J2150 Week 10: Online Activism

On Thursday, March 22, 2012, I read an article at www.prnewsonline.com titled Police Chief steps down, as Trayvon Martin petition builds steam. After reading so many tweets about the Trayvon Martin case while studying for our weekly twitter quiz, I decided to look more into what happened from some other sources and see what they had to say. This particular article caught my attention because it made me realize a trend in the news media: online activism is powerful and influential, enough so to change people’s career choices. 

Tweets for Trayvon Martin

Screenshot taken from a Trayvon Martin twitter feed.

This first article that I found discussed how the Sanford Police Chief removed himself from office on Thursday, March 22, because of the petition set up my Trayvon Martins’ parents. The petition dealt with the fact that Trayvons’ killer, George Zimmerman, was not arrested by the Sanford Police. I find it really interesting that this petition has received soo much attention and even harnessed enough power to cause the police chief to make such a drastic decision with his life, in terms of his career. 

As you can see above, this online petition is not the only place where the public has been able to demonstrate their outrage about the incident. The picture above is just a snapshot of a few comments individuals and news media corporations have tweeted in reference to Trayvon Martin. It’s amazing that just a few years ago, a story like this would never have received the same amount of coverage because online activism and social media usage was not the same. These days, we have the potential to hear about and read many more reactions and comments from everyday people. 

And this online activism doesn’t just stop at what people type on their computer and post to the web. It’s causing people to quit their jobs.

In the PRNews article, Steve Goldstein, the author of the article, mentioned how this isn’t the only news this year that has aroused a lot of online activism. He sited three other examples, which were:

  • working conditions at Apple supplier Foxconn
  • Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” comment
  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Planned Parent Hood funding cut
Susan G. Komen - Planned Parenthood

Picture from rebelmc.com

I looked further into the Susan G. Komen for the Cure example and found this article titled Several Executives leave Komen after controversy, on the Associated Press website. The first paragraph says, “At least five high-ranking executives with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer charity have resigned in the aftermath of the organization’s decision to eliminate its funding for Planned Parenthood.” For this example, social media and demonstrations went crazy against the foundations decision to reverse funding to Planned Parenthood. And once again we see important, high-ranking people from the organizations mostly involved in the news stepping down, just as the police chief did…and mostly because of the “social media wildfires.” 

I wonder what everybody else thinks about this phenomenon…is this what the future of journalism looks like? Issues in the news arising, social media taking control and making comments, and then leaders stepping down from their positions because of harassment or embarrassment, or whatever this should be categorized as? 

I look forward to reading more about online activism in the news. 

This entry was published on March 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm and is filed under J2150. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “J2150 Week 10: Online Activism

  1. I too wonder if journalism is going to be a big Twitter monster in the future. I’m a fan of the service, but it’s not the easiest to watch and digest, unless you’re on it 24/7 or follow just a few select sources. Twitter does have a huge potential for social change though. How long do you think it will be before social media becomes the norm for politicians (and not just something a college aide does to help out)?

    Great job on the post!

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