The Grammar of Our Demands: The Zuccotti Park General Assembly and the Media

Gilbert Vanburen Wilkes IV, PhD, Professor, Royal Road University & Andrea Klassen, Program Associate, Royal Roads University
On October 16, 2011 a U.S. centre-right website titled 'Big Government' released a cache of email correspondences purported to consist of a discussion between Occupy Wall Street organizers and journalists about how to develop a coherent message to connect with wider U.S. audiences and interests groups on the model of the U.S. Tea Party movement. The email cache is available here: <a target="blank" href=""></a>. The writers at 'Big Government' intended to discredit both the journalists and the Occupy Wall Street Organizers by showing evidence of collusion. For the purposes of this study the email cache becomes the data to develop a description of the value predicates, which means the way that either side in the discussion develops its understanding of the issues at hand, and address the question of how those issues should be presented to the public. Textual analysis of key words and word collocations using computer concordancer tools provide the empirical basis of the study. The object of the study is to provide insight into the professional practice of journalists confronted with the special case of reporting on a community that resists, on its face, the propagation of a coherent message as this contradicts Occupier practices of direct action through bottom-up direct democracy.
For PDF of related poster click here.
Gilbert Vanburen Wilkes IV, PhD is an assistant professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Royal Roads University, and former holder of the Ralph Klein Chair in Media Studies at Mt. Royal University in Calgary. You can reach him at

Andrea Klassen is a Masters Student in Communication in Royal Roads University's Intercultural Communication program. Andrea may be reached at