We look at three examples of what we consider people powered news.
At NewsWhip, we believe in the potential of ‘People Powered News’.
We think that social media allows people to choose stories that interest them like never before. Our site is unique in that the stories are solely chosen by their ‘Social Velocity‘, or how fast they’re spreading on Facebook and Twitter. We have no editorial guidelines or personal opinion, the stories are chosen entirely by the billion plus users of those two networks alone.
As we recently illustrated with our ‘people powered front pages‘, the top stories in the media don’t always match up with the most shared stories on social media. Some stories never get covered in the media because of vested interests but due to the will of the people, these stories find their voice on social media and spread their influence.
Here are some of our favourite examples.
Gezi Park Protests, 2013
In the Spring of 2013, the Turkish government wanted to tear down Gezi Park in Istanbul, one of the few remaining green spaces in the city, to build a new shopping mall. Outraged, citizens took to the streets and displayed their anger at the corruption involved.
The Gezi Park protests grew to encapsulate a movement of dissatisfaction with the government, gathering more than 100,000 people into opposition. During this moment of national importance when the world was watching, the Turkish media did not show the news on the protests and the political reaction but instead decided to show a penguin documentary.
The events inspired one Turk to start a ‘Standing Man’ protest, where he stood completely still and didn’t move for 8 hours. This act of passive resistance was the most talked about and shared news story in Turkey while the media didn’t touch it.
The online furore led to the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan denouncing Twitter as “a menace to society” and claiming that “the best lies of society can be found here”.
No More Page 3
Nomorepage3.org was created in order to start a petition to challenge page 3 of the Sun. Founder Lucy-Anne Holmes realised that Page 3 was sending a message to women everywhere that beauty will be praised over than sporting prowess and hard work. The campaign couldn’t tell its story through print media, but took to social media, where people started talking and sharing about this galling inequality for women.
The numbers grew from one motivated woman to a team of 20 people to 54,000 followers on social media. This method of bubbling up the story over a period of time translated into 190,000 people (to date) signing the petition, suddenly people started paying attention and the People Powered News worked.
A debate was ignited and pieces in the Guardian, Telegraph and the Huffington Post showed passion as they stirred up the conversation. Television interviews, panel debates on Sky News and the political support swelled up in ground support and forced the Sun to face the problem.
The campaign is now recognised worldwide and while the Sun may still continue page 3, the fight continues. None of this would have been possible though without using the vehicle of social media to spread the message.
Israel loves Iran
In March 2012, Iran-Israel relations were at a particular low. The two countries had been constantly sparring and had reached a point where all diplomatic dialogue had ended. Quotes like “The Iranian nation is standing for its cause and that is the full annihilation of Israel” (Iranian Military chief of staff) and “Iran is the biggest supporter of terrorism.” (Israel ambassador to US) only served to heighten the hostility between the nations.
But underneath the government declarations and the media fear-mongering, there was a longing for reconciliation and avoiding destructive war. This is where Ronny Edry steps in. On the night when the media was blasting everyone with threats about Israel getting attacked by Iran and having to strike first, he decided on a different course of action and posted the following picture on social media:
He attached a note with it saying: “To the Iranian people To all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters. For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I’m not afraid of you, I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you.
No Iranian ever did me harm…
We mean you no harm. On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports. To all those who feel the same, share this message and help it reach the Iranian people”.
Despite suspicious naysayers, the picture resonated with many. It started clocking up likes, shares, tweets, comments and began a conversation that contradicted the line seen in the popular press.
Suddenly the image was going viral and Iranians started to interact with it. In the beginning they had a fear of publishing on social media or showing public support as it was against Iranian laws. But they saw the power of social media and the effect it could have in liberating them and realising the truth. They responded in kind:
The phrase, “the peace has to be viral” became associated with the movement and their Facebook page received over 121,000 likes. They garnered support from all over the world, helped by a very successful Ted Talk. Ronny Edry challenged the accepted wisdom that only fear and hate of each other were the common traits between Israel and Iran and opened up the possibility that the two countries could live in harmony.
None of this would have been possible without getting social media to play its part. It was the only avenue of communication that was open between the peoples of the nations and showed the similarities between the races. This is the best example we have ever seen at NewsWhip of a story not getting traction with the mainstream media due to outside control, but because of the demand of the people, the story spreads, is aired, discussed and changes opinions. This is the beauty of people powered news.
See also - The Story of Rory O’Neill and Pantigate
To see what people powered news looks like in real time, head to Spike.