Media and Social Movements

Social movements have made a rapid increase in today’s society. According to sociologist Charles Tilly, these movements were rare before the 1800s. Social movements are always active and will continue to grow, just as much as the media and new technologies continue to grow. People have the right to express their opinions on certain topics freely. Every human being has the first amendment right to the freedom of speech and press. Tilly goes further and explains that before the media we all know today, in order to express ones feelings about a topic or a movement in politics, or to get votes, politicians used to make phone calls to raise money or recruit volunteers, or type flyers that would be put in the mail or handed out in the streets.

Today, with the media today, we know everything that’s going on every second of the day.

Social movements follow the democratic system, which makes them accessible to all. With everyone having access and the ability to speak their opinion, it is much easier to instigate a movement (Waisbord).

The article by The Washington Post, discusses that it’s not as easy as it looks to make a social movement. No matter how big or small, the movement must have organization, or it is just going to full apart. “That highlights the crucial difference between old social campaigns and new ones. Scale, even in the form of a huge protest, does not equal success” (Tsukayama). In order for the success of social movements, it is important to focus on the media sources that are available at the time.

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Today, there are an endless amount of media platforms used to broadcast information, such as newspaper articles, television, and most importantly, social media ie Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Looking at the Visual Story posted by The Huffington Post, it really shows how much everyone uses their phones and technology in order to broadcast information. Mark Clennon photographs “protestors at demonstrations in New York City using their phones to broadcast to the world what was happening” (Dawson). Clennon produced a very powerful visual story and displayed that we are all human, trying to live on this Earth, even though we may have different views. Each and every one of us are just trying to fight for what we believe in. Evidently, the media is a great tactic for social change, but it is important for there to be a plan and constant organization in order for the movement to progress.

There are so many different movements today, for all different causes. The #blacklivesmatter movement, BLM, has had a major impact on individuals all around the world, including myself. This movement started in 2013 by a woman named Alicia Garza. BLM was sparked by the killing of Trayvon Martin. Martin had been making his way home from a local 7-11 in his neighborhood. He was shot and killed at seventeen years old. The shooter was George Zimmerman, a watchman for the neighborhood, who assumed Martin was doing something wrong. Finally, the jury made their decision, Zimmerman was innocent. “The six female jurors found the state had not made a strong enough case to prove that Zimmerman had committed second-degree murder” (Bates). How could Zimmerman just assume Martin was doing something wrong? Because of his skin color? This isn’t the only case this has happened, but the Black Lives Matter movement is attempting to make cases like this stop, for good.

Alicia Garza was unsettled by the jury’s decision of the case of Trayvon Martin. No one could believe the news. Garza used social media as her outlet to speak up about how she felt. She wrote a heartwarming message stating her love for her fellow black people, especially after hearing this devastating news. She ended her post with: “Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter” (Day). After this post, the #blacklivesmatter began being shared on every single social media platform. Garza teamed up with some of her friends to begin this movement, in order to make sure that the hashtag was proven to be true. Let it be known, this movement is not saying that only black lives matter, everyone’s lives matter, no matter what race. “They want to get the point across that black lives are more in danger when it comes to police interaction than, say, white lives” (“Four Facts”).

Just like any other movement there are people for and against BLM. This movement is supposed to be a non-violent social movement, fighting for the lives of black people. Some people argue that this movement is just a stunt for some attention, for example, David French. French speaks up in an article on The National Review and states his opinion about the movement. “When it comes to leftist extremists, however, the media will work overtime to distance Black Lives Matter from violence even though its supporters routinely call for it, sometimes attacking police directly” (French). He goes further to discuss how the BLM movement is trying to begin a political revolution, but he says the media doesn’t show anyone that side of it.

A different article, from Wired, discusses the more positive aspects of BLM and the media, bringing up its impacts and ability to focus on civil rights. “Still, this movement, as diffuse and protean as it may seem, has mounted some of the most potent civil rights activism since the ’60s” (Stephan). The BLM movement has caused an uproar and has attracted plenty of media coverage over the years. Many genuinely care about this movement and follow each platform, and even order their merchandise. This may have started as a small movement, but it has become something so much more than that. A movement like this has not been and will never be forgotten, and the world will be constantly reminded of BLM via media. “A huge reason for all this success is that, perhaps more than any other modern American protest movement, they’ve figured out how to marshal today’s tools” (Stephan)… the media.

In conclusion, the world revolves around media and social movements. Social movements wouldn’t be as well-known without the media and new technologies that have developed and continue to. Both social movements and the media provide a platform for individuals to express their feelings and speak without restrictions. As the different forms of media continue to grow, it will become easier for people to follow their first amendment right and speak their minds freely. With that being said, social movements will thrive.

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Media and Social Movements. (2021, Apr 22). Retrieved from

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