June 30, 2003


“Uni students get fired up over Greiner's smoking role,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald:

The appointment of former NSW premier and tobacco industry representative Nick Greiner to a position at Sydney University was untenable, protesters said today.

Wow! A protest! Young people speaking out! More than 170 words later, we learn just how many of these impassioned idealists had confronted the nicotine pusher.

About 40.

Wonder what the cutoff point is at which a “protest” is considered non-newsworthy ... 30? 20? Six? One activist and a puppet?

Posted by Tim Blair at June 30, 2003 09:48 PM

If it fits the cause, puppet is optional. Just a mannequin with a hand painted sign will do. But having at least one 'activist' does keep a human dimension to it.

Posted by: Wind Rider at June 30, 2003 at 09:52 PM

Mannequin would have a higher IQ than post activists though... and better hygiene .

Posted by: Tim A at June 30, 2003 at 11:10 PM

I agree, just the puppet should usually be adequate. Although according to protest organisers, the attendance would have been in the thousands.

Posted by: Korgmeister at July 1, 2003 at 12:49 AM

In Seattle during the 1980's the unofficial rules were made public under which one of the local stations (KING, channel 5) would cover your protest. (KING 5 is the more lefty of the three local stations.)

1. Saturdays were best. This is usually the slowest newsday, and stations need filler.

2. You needed to have at least 20 people show up at your protest. Easily read signs were helpful in getting your point across.

3. You needed to have a designated "spokesperson" who could give a 20-30 second sound-bite. No loony rants, profanity, racial slurs allowed.

4. Do it all so that KING 5 could get it on the 5:00 pm saturday news.

5. Please, please, please try and tie your "protest" into some current BIG local or national news-story.

6. Do the above and KING 5 News would do only tight shots (20 protesters would easily fill the screen), no wide shots (showing just how tiny a group of 20 protesters look), and no attempt to debate or refute what your "spokesperson" says.

So, every saturday you'd see the "protest of the week" on the 5:00 pm news. While the "spokesperson" role would get rotated among different people, you eventually came to realize it was always the same half-dozen people. For racial matters, as an example, you'd see perennial state legislature candidate Jesse Wineberry as "spokesperson".

And people wonder why protests, of any size, do absolutely nothing in moving public opinion.

Posted by: David Crawford at July 1, 2003 at 07:29 AM

Aren't a lot of the "protests" in Australia featuring just one person? Either Hettie Johnston or Kerryn Phelps?

Posted by: Patrick at July 1, 2003 at 11:02 AM

Come of it Tim. I suppose having a company pushing its products to a group of Uni students (product palcement bags with heavily logoed CDs, mouse pads and stickers, amongst other things) is a good thing?

Posted by: Andy at July 1, 2003 at 01:04 PM

Only if you think that those students are mindless drones who are easily swayed by bright colors and promises that the product so pushed will enhance their sex appeal. Then again, many college students have posters of Ché Guevara in their dorm rooms. One product (tobacco) has contributed to the deaths of thousands. Another product (as if Ché isn't a product) followed a philosophy that led to... the deaths of millions. Is it that you are opposed to groups "pushing" their "products" onto university students, or only certain particular products?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 1, 2003 at 03:50 PM

A Million Mom March (promoting gun control) got (local) coverage. It had 4 protestors.

Palm Beach Million Mom March

Posted by: Courtney at July 1, 2003 at 03:50 PM