Media Activism: WHAT & WHY

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Let me first start with what is Media Activism or simply Activism.

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.

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change, or stasis. Various forms of activism range from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing businesses, rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, and hunger strikes. Research is beginning to explore how activist groups in the United States and Canada are using social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action.

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.

So why do we need it?

One of the difficulties faced by social movements is getting their message reported clearly, accurately and effectively through the lens of mainstream media. A key factor in this work has been the creation of alternative media that both offer a direct channel to fairer representation and can keep the mainstream media honest by critiquing their coverage. In the contemporary, media-saturated world new problems emerge in the form of “protest fatigue” — mainstream failure to cover demonstrations often dismissed as “sixties style protests,” as if protest can be confined to one decade or is a stylistic choice — and the silo effect in which people only get the news that reinforces their ideology. The sites and resources below are working to address these issues with courage and imagination.

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