The Grog Blogger

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‘Kony-Wan-Kenobi’ (an overview)

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In the final episode from ‘The Grog Blogger’ for this season, we will be looking at the KONY 2012 campaign as a media mecca, and an overview of its representation in the media.

Be warned, that Invisible Children works like any other business. They run off a profit, and in order to make a profit, the nature of humanitarian organisations like this require that you invest your money with them.

Previous to the viral campaign, a great percentage of the world’s population would have been unaware to the matter. But A problem is only a problem if there is a solution. And Invisible Children have created just that. A problem (Jospeh Kony and the LRA) and a solution (sign the pledge, buy the gift pack, invest).

Aside from your contribution to the cause, Invisible Children needs to figure out the most effective way to make this happen, and they have used a variation of visual techniques to make it appealing to the target audience, but in particular, their use of sensationalism and moral panic.

Sensationalism concerns the bias in mass media in which an event is over-hyped to increase the viewership and audience following of an issue. The issue has been sensationalised for the profitable gain of Invisible Children. For the viral campaign to be effective, the audience needs to not only believe the nature of what is being said, but believe it is happening right now!

Common tactics in sensationalism, all of which have been employed by Invisible Children in their KONY 2012 campaign, include: obtuse reporting, appealing to emotions, trivialising key factors for the benefit of the case, intentionally omitting facts and information, use of unrelatable content.

the KONY 2012 campaign has sensationalised the content of the issue to instill moral panic within its following. And moral panic is a necessary device in retaining interest from a public.

Moral panic is a sociological term used to describe the social reaction to an exaggerated threat to social values by moral deviants. This is exactly what has gained the grand audience of KONY 2012: hook, line & sinker. One major issue to arouse moral panic is the welfare of children.

Moral panics in the media can be broken down into 3 stages: occurrence, implications, & control. An event must first occur, and it is up to media outlets to decide the significance or dramatic value of the issue. The nature of ‘me media’ means that traditional media platforms need to keep up with ‘trends’ that are arising amongst self-made journalists.  And this has been the first step of KONY 2012’s campaign. by creating a stir on social media sites, and the rate of which the message was spreading, it i turn forced traditional media outlets to follow on the topic.

Second step in creating moral panic is adding fuel to the fire. Relying on ‘expert opinion makers’ to extend the story, and present the issue in a matter that makes it appear as the beginning of a more complex group of problems, eg. crime rates are on the rise. This holds a public’s attention on the matter, and is part of an overall pattern which constitutes a major social menace.

The third element is providing a source for social control. Moral panics seek a form of resolution which is often provide through laws or referendums, to penalise those established as the threatening deviants at the source of panic. Invisible Children gave you two options in responding, and it gave it’s audience a sense of political uprising. You could sign the pledge and invite meetings with influential powerhouse figures in the US, or provide money, which in turn would ensure the reach of the message.

Any man and his dog can use these techniques, and most of the time we can watch it in action on the 6pm nightly news or current affair programs. But there is one key element that has set Invisible Children ahead of the rest. It was their thorough media integration with the use of social media. Invisible Children have bypassed various communication barriers in the reach of their message, and have utilised a cost effective tool for the business (social networking) and have chosen a target audience willing to do all the hard work for them (young, university educated members of society).

THE BIGGEST LET DOWN IN HISTORY: Kony – Cover the Night

It was the most anticipated day of the year, bigger than elections, bigger than Obama supporting the gays, it was even BIGGER THAN A PUBLIC HOLIDAY!!!!

Of course until the day actually came and no-one really cared anymore and had much better things to do than sticky tape posters that would use the entire contents of their inkjet printers to walls that no ever looked at anyway.

Ahh, the cover the night saga, that amounted to nothing.

The cities where not blanketed like promised, the towns were not painted with the warlords face, the campaign did not plaster “every city, on every block”. I WANT MY MONEY BACK INVISIBLE CHILDREN, YOU HAVE NOT DELIVERED!

It left me pondering the many great questions of life, such as: WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO KONY!

Most definitely,  it was the public relations mishap with Invisible Children founder Jason Russell and his personal dilemmas. The organisation had failed to regain the initial strong following, after Jason’s efforts in stripping down and yelling at bypassing traffic.

The overwhelming nature of reports of cover the night were dismal, to say the least. KONY 2012 had gone from prime time slot, front page news, to page 48, next to the personal ad for ‘man seeks man for casual company’. Yes, very dismal indeed.

The initial campaign was a great success, but Invisible Children will have a hard time from here on out getting the support they once had. As one person tweeted (yeah, that’s right, only 1 person tweeted about KONY):

“Find the silence around #KONY12 interesting. It’s muted embarrassment on prior supporters, mixed from quiet smugness from detractors”

‘Being bad ayse is a full-time job’

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Amongst all the KONY 2012 ‘hoo-haa’ that went on, there was one organisation who was seemingly quiet on the matter. Invisible Children shared their views with most of the world, and in each country this viral marketing campaign spread through, there was an accompanying opinion on whether this was a legitimate cause.

Until… the devil speaks!

Invisible Children had been successful in making KONY famous, and every man and his dog had something to add, but the LRA had their side of the story too, and nobody imagined the lengths they could tell it in.

As it turns out, it took them 19 pages.

In this space they branded and shamed not only Invisible Children, but the entire population of the United States of America.

The response from the LRA states that this humanitarian front by Invisible Children is part of a grand scheme by the US to control the Nile and Congo basins/valleys in Central Africa, as they are threatened by other serious economic powers such as China. The primary message to take away from the statement reads that Barack Obama and the US administration have used this media militia to sanitise and justify a US military presence in Central Africa. The ideas they raise hold similar weight to the moral panic that was created around the ‘War on Weapons of Mass Destruction’ by George Bush.

“The Invisible Children’s recent electronic/social media offensive not only insults the intelligence of the people’s of the world, but is intended to divert the attention of the victims of repression of the regime of the army republic of Uganda from the evil US game plan in the Nile/Congo River valleys and basins/Central Africa Zone”

The grandeur of Kony

“Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”

The Invisible children have created what is to be known as the fastest spreading video to date. Through social media, the KONY 2012 campaign has spread like wildfire. But what role has social media played in the success of this circulation.

There are particular reasons that are attributed to how well the campaign was received, and the simplification of the issue has caused not only the success, but too the critique of the approach to solving the problem at hand.

Social media has been used as in informal platform, to turn its audience from passive consumers to active campaigners. The Invisible Children have successfully made it seem as though this is not only a problem worth fighting for, but also a problem with a solution. And their solution is not long hard months of groundwork, but it follows a three-step program of informing, fundraising and action.

Two of these three steps they have made accessible to not only specialist in politics and activism, but to everyday folk from the comfort of their home. How?: A simple click of a button. The KONY 2012 campaign asks you to sign the pledge, and share the story (at the very least, and then in addition send them thirty bucks).

Social media, in this instance and as it acts everyday, plays the role of the jocks and hotties in high school.  Just like you wore a skirt above your knees so as not to be the target of segregation, social media requires of you to know the latest trend (and let people know you’re on top of it) in a digital world, where your virtual footprint has become inerasable, but your visibility within your online presence is essential.

And hasn’t it worked well.

Thinking of the concept philosophically, the KONY 2012 campaign has made ‘not doing anything’ as equally influential in terms of change as ‘making a choice’. By not ‘making a choice’ to share the extravaganza that they have made oh-so-accessible, you in turn become an accessory to the crimes being committed.

The ABC – upstanding media journalism in a concentrated ownership world

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has a longstanding credibility as    the politically uninterrupted programmer for free content into the homes of all Australians, nationwide. They have a long list of mission statements, reports, charter policy documents, and are seemingly willing and prepared for all forms of criticism, feedback and complaints into managing their public profile accordingly.

But when a revolution of great heights appears out of nowhere, even the ABC cannot resist riding the coattails of the media insurgence that came about from KONY 2012.

Of the two networks that are free to air in Australia and aim to provide a thorough journalistic approach to world news and current affairs, the ABC and SBS, on the whole, seem to do a fairly successful job in getting things done without ‘slagging’ competitive networks.

The ABC only managed to produce 3 out of the 38 stories that had mention to Joseph Kony or the Lord’s Resistance Army pre-March 2012, and despite the fact that they advertise their ‘Editorial Independence’ it would seem as though the personal journalistic gain of mentioning ‘KONY 2012’ would prove too tempting for the ABC journalistic team.

One may even assume, that reporting on the topical issue would run up a nomination for the coveted journalistic prize, The Walkleys.

Most certainly, SBS journalist Aaron Lewis deserved his nomination for the award, with SBS providing only 18 stories mentioning either Jospeh Kony or the Lord’s Resistance Army, and of this 18, 5 of them were pre-KONY campaign. Not to mention, the thirteen stories that were reported post-KONY 2012 5 were the same stories available in English, Fillipino, Turkish, Chinese, German or AFRICAN! Good on you SBS, for providing a world news event in AFRICAN, relating to AFRICA, and relevant to the 7.3% of our population that was born in Africa, keeping in mind this figure does not account for our migrants.

10 things i hate about ‘Hugh’

“I brought it back to A Current Affair, they looked at all this stuff, and in the end they never ran the story”.

The Kony 2012 campaign has become a revolution, where not only can you spread the message of justice through the convenience of your social networking accounts, but you can well and truly make a difference by putting your money where your mouth is. On the home page of ‘The Invisible Children’s” Kony 2012 page, 3 of the 5 site directional tabs lead you to donate, buy merchandise, or obtain the resources to be part of the revolution; so this means buy the merchandise in a roundabout way.

And this brings me to:

The Project.

And i’m not talking about the housing blocks in the Bronx.

When Channel 10’s ‘The Project’ put together their uninterrupted Kony 2012 program, how could they resist calling in a specialised team to make the most out of the whirlwind campaign that is marketing mastermind Jason Russel’s brain child. Channel 10 had already chosen to employ a prime-time emergency special to draw in a larger audience purely on curiosity surrounding Kony, rather than ratings interest in The Projects program itself.

Who else to comment on the extravaganza, than the freshly recruited Ten News Political Editor and Bureau Chief, Hugh Riminton.

Upon his professional comment and dissection of the phenomenon, Riminton couldn’t resist the mention of his personal efforts for the cause. Despite the fact over a decade has passed since he had been on project in Uganda, the key note of his address states that it is rival network Channel 9’s fault that this story hasn’t come to light earlier:

“I brought it back to A Current Affair, they looked at all this stuff, and in the end they never ran the story”.

A prime-time, news-breaking, real-life, dissection by Channel 10 & The Project.