BCM322 Assessment 3 Reflection

My aim for this video is to express how young people – especially teenagers – are underrepresented in the news media when there is a debate surrounding gun control in the US. Following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, survivors took to social media, namely Twitter, to organise protests which led to The March for Our Lives movement. This took place across the United States following the shooting in Parkland and was a rally to protest gun violence. It was organised primarily through social media. On 24 March 2018, millions participated in school walkouts across the nation, where students demanded tougher action on gun violence. (Deng 2018) These protests gained strong media interest, as well as interest from police and Congress.

I am linking this assessment loosely to the Week 6 topic – policy intervention. More specifically, I am linking it to a lack of policy intervention in terms of US gun control. I am not necessarily making a pro-gun control statement with this video, as I do respect the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans, however, I am focusing on the shooting at Marjory Stoneman as a prime example of how American youth are not being given an equal opportunity to comment on policy intervention. As a result, they have been forced to establish their own voice on social media – which can be a positive thing in terms of generating interest in their political arguments, such as The March for Our Lives walkouts across the country. Word-of-mouth is also something that is becoming increasingly easier to achieve through social media. Interventionists such as Emma González have rapidly developed an online following and fan base on Twitter, something that would have taken much longer to achieve through traditional media channels such as television.

In the video, I have utilised various editing techniques to show this throughout the clip. I have used split-screen to juxtapose video from March for Our Lives walkouts against videos of various pro-gun personalities making passionate statements on US national television. I have also superimposed several screenshots of Tweets by the surviving students at the end of the video in an effort to show how social media has been imperative to aiding the students taking action. My video is attempting to make the point that despite these students’ voices being small, social media is giving them the ability to share what they want to say without having to go through traditional media channels.

My research process involved watching videos and reading news articles about the shooting in Parkland. This is where I noticed that young people weren’t being given an equal amount of time on television programs to discuss the issues surrounding the gun control debate. There seemed to be an inequality in representation, with TV time reserved mainly for politicians and NRA spokespeople. Due to the digital divide and growing popularity of social media platforms, traditional/legacy media such as television is a medium becoming less important for young people. Younger people tend to be voicing their opinions namely through social media channels now, such as Facebook and Twitter. Fakhoury 2017 says that social media, as a collaborative and participatory tool, plays a key role in delivering public service value to citizens. And this is true in terms of people like Emma González and fellow Parkland shooting survivors taking to social media to organise March for Our Lives.

 

References:

Deng, O 2018, March for Our Lives was Born on Social Media, Crimson Hexagon, accessed 12 August 2018, <https://www.crimsonhexagon.com/blog/march-for-our-lives-was-born-on-social-media/>.

Fakhoury, R 2017, Can social media, loud and inclusive, fix world politics?, The Conversation, accessed 12 August 2018, <https://theconversation.com/can-social-media-loud-and-inclusive-fix-world-politics-74287>.

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#Occupy Everywhere

Occupy Everywhere, also known as The ’99 Percent’ Movement, was an international, socio-political movement against social and economic inequality. In 2011, Adbusters magazine sent out an email to around 90,000 people sharing a Twitter hashtag #OccupyWallStreet. (Schneider 2011) The movement’s main concern was how large corporations, including the global financial system, control the world in a way that disproportionately benefited a minority. Thompson 2011 notes that the first protests took place in Wall Street, and began on 17 September 2011. By 9 October, the protests had taken place in over 951 cities across 82 countries, and received widespread media attention. Schneider 2011 mentions, “In three months, an idea and a hashtag became a worldwide movement.” In Australia, demonstrations as part of this movement took place in major cities such as Canberra, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, and… even our very own Wollongong.

So how has global media served as a tool for social intervention here? Well, through the use of tools like Facebook and Twitter, individuals are able to build networks and take action. Change.org founder Ben Rattray argues that social media is used for “supporting, not supplanting, existing strategies”, and at the same time “spark something that wouldn’t exist”. (Kanalley 2011) Social media was also pivotal in other socio-political events in 2011, such as The Arab Spring. Individuals who gather on social network sites are creating social change and grabbing the attention of the mainstream media. Everything is now connected in this digital age, and social media is the paradigm shift that allows individuals and groups to have instant communication with like-minded peers across almost anywhere in the world.

You may be asking, what are the lasting effects of Occupy Everywhere and what exactly did it achieve? Many of the protestors had substantial levels of student debt (relatable?), and Dr. Theda Skocpol, a sociologist and political scientist at Harvard University who has analysed the movement, says “It’s [an] issue that Occupy spotlighted and as a result has continued to be a focus”. As a result, project Rolling Jubilee was started, which has abolished over $31 million in student debt so far in the United States. (Leonhardt 2016)

At the start of the Occupy Movement, there was a strong reliance on social media for the dispersal of information. There was a heavy production of Occupy-related content during peak activity of the movement, however, it was not sustained over the following year/s, and as a result social media’s importance to the movement has slowly decreased. It is important to note however, that social media was used as a tool for initially generating international interest in a socio-political movement against inequality. And without it, the movement would not have developed so rapidly, and probably would not have make such an impact on news media. That’s one positive effect of social media; it is hard to ignore. Sharma 2013 emphasises that social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn “have become a serious force in the globalized world, making it hard for any company to ignore their power.”

References:

Kanalley, C 2011, Occupy Wall Street: Social Media’s Role In Social Change, Huffington Post, accessed 07 September 2018, <https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/occupy-wall-street-social-media_n_999178>.

Leonhardt, M 2016, The Lasting Effects of Occupy Wall Street, Five Years Later, Time, accessed 07 September 2018, <http://time.com/money/4495707/occupy-wall-street-anniversary-effects/>.

Schneider, N 2011, From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Everywhere, The Nation, accessed 07 September 2018, <https://www.thenation.com/article/occupy-wall-street-occupy-everywhere/>.

Sharma, M 2013, Social media’s power difficult to ignore, Iskon Times, accessed 07 September 2018, <http://www.iskcontimes.com/archive/social-medias-power-difficult-to-ignore%20>.

Thompson, D 2011, Occupy the World: The ’99 Percent’ Movement Goes Global, The Atlantic, accessed 07 September 2018, <https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/10/occupy-the-world-the-99-percent-movement-goes-global/246757/>.

How Social Media Is Being Used To Shape Discussion around Gun Control

Social media is now imperative as a platform used to initiate conversation surrounding issues of political and social importance. The March for Our Lives movement, which took place across the United States following the shooting in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was a rally to protest gun violence and was organised primarily through social media. On 24 March, 2018, millions participated in school walkouts across the nation, where students demanded tougher action on gun violence. (Deng 2018) These protests gained strong media interest, as well as interest from police groups and Congress.

Students from the school have utilised social media regularly since the shooting occurred. Jaclyn Corin, who is a student at Marjory Stoneman, and an organiser of March for Our Lives says, “Social media is our weapon… Without it, the movement wouldn’t have spread this fast.” (Salamon 2018) Social media was also actively present during the shooting, with student David Hogg, filming and interviewing classmates as he was hiding while the gunman walked the halls. Salamon 2018 further notes how students have used the media for activism since the 1960s, however, now they have more tools to quickly spread their messages widely and, in doing so, help shape national conversations. For the students involved in March for Our Lives, social media is a powerful tool that allows them to gain greater exposure, in an effort to advocate for gun reform, and rally more young people to vote.

The March for Our Lives movement has gained a positive response from the White House. White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement, “We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today”, referring to the school walk-outs. (Ahmed 2018) Additionally, senators from both parties, are now pushing a bill to improve reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

It is also important to note in this discussion how social media is being used negatively to discredit these student activists and spread fake news. Horton 2018 cites how during the rally, a doctored image of Emma González (a student at Stoneman Douglas who survived the shooting) tearing the U.S. Constitution in half circulated on social media. However, in the real image, González is ripping apart a gun-range target. The Parkland students are being scrutinized on social media to either bolster or tear down arguments surrounding gun control. The author further mentions how Donald Moynihan, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, debunked the altered image, saying in a tweet: “Just a sample of what NRA supporters are doing to teenagers who survived a massacre.”

Fakhoury 2017 says that social media, as a collaborative and participatory tool, plays a key role in delivering public service value to citizens. The author further talks about how social media helps people engage in politics and policy-making. Will the March for Our Lives movement lead to gun reform in the US? Probably not. However, here, the use of social media as a tool for shaping discussion, is important. It marks a paradigm shift in the public forum, where instead of having a system controlled by traditional media and gatekeepers, we now have easy access to a many-to-many communication tool, where all voices have a chance to be heard. And it’s an important place to start.

References:

Ahmed, S 2018, Here is the White House response to March for Our Lives, CNN, accessed 12 August 2018, <https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/24/politics/white-house-response-to-march-trnd/index.html>.

Deng, O 2018, March for Our Lives was Born on Social Media, Crimson Hexagon, accessed 12 August 2018, <https://www.crimsonhexagon.com/blog/march-for-our-lives-was-born-on-social-media/>.

Fakhoury, R 2017, Can social media, loud and inclusive, fix world politics?, The Conversation, accessed 12 August 2018, <https://theconversation.com/can-social-media-loud-and-inclusive-fix-world-politics-74287>.

Horton, A 2018, A fake photo of Emma González went viral on the far right, where Parkland teens are villains, Washington Post, accessed 12 August 2018, <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2018/03/25/a-fake-photo-of-emma-gonzalez-went-viral-on-the-far-right-where-parkland-teens-are-villains/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4d19a398744b>.

Salamon, E 2018, March for Our Lives awakens the spirit of student and media activism of the 1960s, The Conversation, accessed 12 August 2018, <http://theconversation.com/march-for-our-lives-awakens-the-spirit-of-student-and-media-activism-of-the-1960s-93713>.