Do It Yourself Media: Online Community Organizing Comes of Age
|Across America during the pre-2004 election months, hundreds of people were planning for a December 7th house parties to screen simultaneous showings of veteran Hollywood filmmaker Robert Greenwald's compelling new documentary, "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War." Organized efficiently by MoveOn, the innovative online activist group, there were more than 2,700 parties scheduled across the country.* Participants were also invited to participate in a giant conference call with Greenwald and MoveOn leadership after the film was seen.
MoveOn's strong support of Greenwald's documentary is its biggest experiment as a media-maker and viral marketer. MoveOn, which helped fund the film, distributed more than 30,000 copies to its members as part of a fundraising campaign.
MoveOn had several other creative pre-election media initiatives. The group launched a PR campaign to make sure the ads they bought got free news coverage across the country by engaging hundreds of local volunteers to hold press conferences and talk to reporters about the effect of President Bush's policies. MoveOn also created a Fox Watch project after observing that there is little separation between Fox reporters and executives and the Republican party.
In another example of DIY (Do It Yourself) media, the MoveOn.org Voter Fund launched Bush in 30 Seconds, a political TV ad contest to help find the most creative and memorable ideas for ads that tell the truth about George Bush's policies.
Beyond MoveOn, the Dean presidential campaign leaped ahead of its competitors in fundraising by building a vast pool of small donors who contributed on the Internet, attended face-to-face meet-ups via social networking software, and became powerful campaign organizers by using email for viral marketing.
The growth of the Internet has spawned a whole new class of super-communicators; individuals who have listservs (for mass distribution of news and information) and blogs (personal opinion and discussion Web sites), and are the "viral" revolutionaries carrying the message of MoveOn and many progressive web sites.
*Please see the Full Text below for specific party ideas that people in the San Francisco area used.
|Thinking outside the mainline media box is a revolutionizing tool of today's modern media and Internet savvy activists. It is one example of the fundamental precept of online organizing referred to sometimes as the Five C's: Connecting Computers Can Create Community.
The weakened power of broadcast politics - with its now numbing affect of standardized and impersonal presentations - creates a strong incentive to develop an alternative. Listservs create a wide circle of like-minded people to receive news and information of common interest. Blogs create a space where people can discuss issues important to them - beyond the sometimes mindless level of chat rooms. When done right - as the Howard Dean campaign apparently did - a blog is a tool for building community. A well-structured blog inspires both reading and writing. Additionally, by getting the audience to interact through the particular Website, candidates or community organizers get the audience committed. Engagement replaces reception, which in turn leads to action.
Many MoveOn members are influential in their communities. In the new communications parlance they are "connectors" (a term coined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, "The Tipping Point"). They know that communication from a trusted friend or colleague is far more influential than an advertisement or a direct market appeal.
MoveOn's revolutionary potential lies not in buying advertising space from media corporations, but rather its ability to circumvent the corporate media with quality content that could potentially turn many of its nearly 2 million members (and the larger group they influence, potentially 10 million or more) into viral marketers, and perhaps more.
MoveOn has set the standard for a new form of interactive politics in which the computer and the Internet are tools in a new approach to engaging people to action. Most importantly, this tool is applicable anywhere in the world where Internet access exists.
|Action:||Political, Education/P.R., Organizing|
|Extent of Action:||National|
|Source:||AlterNet, December 2, 2003|
|www.AlterNet.org and http://www.moveon.org/|
|Prepared By:||sl, 12/04|