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Media activism is a broad category of activism that utilizes media and communication technologies for social and political movements. Methods of media activism include publishing news on websites, creating video and audio investigations, spreading information about protests, and organizing campaigns relating to media and communications policies.
Media activism can be used for many different purposes. It is often employed by grassroots activists and anarchists to spread information not available via mainstream media or to share censored news stories. Certain forms of politically motivated hacking and net-based campaigns are also considered media activism. Often, the focus of media activism is to change policies relating to media and communications.
Forms of media activism
Social media is often used as a form of media activism. Because of the interactive features and widespread adoption users can quickly disseminate information and rally supporters. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter can reach a much larger audience than traditional media. Although often only a small percentage of people who express interest in a cause online are willing to commit to offline action, social media interaction is viewed as "the first step in a ladder of engagement"."Social media has helped us organize without having leaders," said Victor Damaso, 22, demonstrating on São Paulo's main Paulista Avenue on Thursday night. "Our ideas, our demands are discussed on Facebook. There are no meetings, no rules".
Live streams applications or websites such as Livestream is an other media form which can replace TV when there is a kind of censorship. The protests in Istanbul can be an example of this way of broadcasting in terms of the lack of the objectivity of the actual media and the television. On the other hand, a lot of protestors used Whatsapp or Walkie-Talkie application with their smartphones in order to improve communication between protestors during the manifestations thanks to its quick and instantenious information share. Moreover, the usage of applications such as Whatsapp can increase the organisation of the protestors due to the group messages.
YouTube is another efficient tool of spreading information. It is generally used with other social media forms such as Facebook and Twitter. The most important example to the media activism through YouTube can be the video of Kony which reached to one hundred million views in 6 days. Manifesting by using videos allows protesters to reach the whole world easier than just publishing in a local language.
Culture jamming, another form of media activism, is a subversive strategy of protest that re-appropriates the tropes of mainstream media "in order to take advantage of the resources and venues they afford".
Media activism has expanded its scope to include fields of study such as journalism and news media. Media activism additionally educates the audience to be producers of their own media. Media activism to be expanded to facilitate action through media production and involvement.
Social Media has become a primary organizing tool for political and social movements globally. They serve to strengthen already existing networks of political and social relationships among activists offline. Media activism among youth can be linked to the way youth protest and create communities online over specific issues and social connections.
Most recently, social media has been used politically to achieve success during elections, including the 2012 re-election campaign of President Hugo Chávez and the 2013 presidential campaign between Nicolás Maduro and Henrique Capriles Radonski. Social media was used to organize rallies and political platforms and affected campaign content. Opposition candidate Capriles used social media as an activist approach to "drum up" support and connect with voters politically. This form of media activism connected most dominantly in the Venezuelan youth population—a generation considered to be tech-savvy.
On March 14, 2013, Lourdes Alicia Ortega Pérez was imprisoned by the Scientific Penal and Criminal Investigation Corps of Venezuela for tweeting a message that was considered "destabilizing to the country".
The 2011 Arab Spring uprisings made extensive use of social media activism within the countries of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. These nations concentrated on the ability of the society to operate social media and begin organizing a grassroots initiative for a globalized form of democracy. Arab youth population are described as "opening" societies through social media in places where governments are otherwise repressive.
Egyptian protesters utilized social media to reduce the difficulties and cost associated with organizing rallies and a readily-mobilized political force. This facilitation of assembly through social media allowed the creation of new gateways for civic engagement where Egypt had suppressed such opportunities under emergency power for the last 30 years. This facilitation of assembly through social media allowed the creation of new gateways for civic engagement where Egypt had suppressed such opportunities under emergency power for the last 30 years. This uprising led to violent conflict within each of the nations, and can thus media and media activism can be viewed as a fundamental contributor to the nation's new national identity under a new rule.
China has strong censorship laws in place, where the press freedoms are not considered free, rather oppressive but improving. Youth in China have worked towards stronger press freedoms online and a dedication to utilizing the principles of media activism. Intensive civic conversation occurs online in China. Youth satirized the government through what came to be known as "the River Crab critique," in turn spurring civic conversation on the internet. Media Activists in China used their online presence and freedom to alter images, such as Marilyn Monroe, to have the face of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong. This image was coined as Maorilyn Maoroe, which in the image is juxtaposed next to a homophone for profanity. "Maorilyn Maoroe" was an opponent to the societal River Crab, which is a pun on "harmonious," a principle that Chinese censorship was created to promote, but has failed to do so.
In China, youth and other media activists have discovered and utilized new methods to indirectly criticize the political and societal environments, going around the government censorship. Social media is among the newest method of critique. Activists use "microblogs" to critique the government. Blogging can therefore be seen as a media activist approach to civic participation within the bounds of government censorship.
Occupy Wall Street
The Occupy Wall Street movement, which began during the fall of 2011, is another instance were social media largely contributed to the efforts of the initiative. Occupy Wall Street protesters capitalized on the tools of social media to spread awareness about the movement, to inform participants about organized meetings, rallies, and events, and to ultimately generate national news and mainstream media attention. Social media handles like Facebook and Twitter were used to bring people from all over to one place for an agreed upon cause. It started off with the small number of people who had the idea. Once the events, rallies and protests began, it gained the attention from mass media. This ultimately created a huge platform for the change these participants yearned for.
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter, a campaign against violence and systemic racism towards African Americans, has been influenced strongly by Social Media Activism with leaders, hashtags, and policy proposals brought forward because of Social Media. The hashtag #blacklivesmatter was created in 2013 by Patrice Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder in Florida of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin. Garza wrote a Facebook post titled "A Love Note to Black People" in which she said: "Our Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter.” Once the hashtag was formed, it has been a rallying cry for various organizing efforts across the country centered on Black lives.
African Americans use Twitter at a higher rate than their white counterparts with 22 percent of online blacks using the service in 2014 compared to 16 percent of online whites. Hashtags such as #OscarsSoWhite, #handsupdontshoot, and #icantbreathe have sprung up as offshoots in the social movement and have helped create a subculture on the website that some have called “Black Twitter”. Jelani Cobb, professor of Journalism at Columbia University, has argued that that “Black Twitter” has been as vital to Black Lives Matter as television was for the Civil Rights Movement.
Social Media has also been important in highlighting individual stories of victims in the movement with hashtags #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, #HandsUpDontShoot, #MikeBrown, #BlackLivesMatter, and #Ferguson going viral. Citizen reporting on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook help drive the coverage of traditional media on stories of violence, discrimination, and harassment.
States such as North Korea, Venezuela, and China have attempted to curtail media activism through a variety of tactics. The Chinese state engages in media censorship in the name of national harmony, although the Council on Foreign Relations argues that suppression of online activism is to protect authorities' political or economic interests. In North Korea, the state curtails virtually all forms of digital communication, but a few transnational citizen-journalists have used technology like cell phones and thumb drives to communicate accurate news to citizens and abroad.
- Democracy Now!
- Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
- Free Press (organization)
- Independent Media Center
- Media Alliance
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