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Many influential Australian media organisations have been working towards ways in which they can utilise social media tools. By combining online innovations with old political processes, democracy becomes contemporised and more accessible to young Australians. For example, during the 2013 federal election in Australia, Channel 9 News and Ninemsn advertised the hashtag, ‘#YouDecide9’, for Australians to voice their opinions (Britt 2013). Tweets using the hashtag on the 9th September, 2013, were featured on Channel 9’s election page YouDecie9 in an attempt to “take the pulse of Australia instantly and share it with our national audience.” (Britt 2013)
This initiative was put in place for viewers to use when commenting on the show’s content and making statements about their political stance. Furthermore, upon searching the hashtag on Twitter, one can come across a hub of Australian political discourse and discussion. When accessing these environments, people can engage with content on various levels by posting original tweets, retweeting other people’s posts and commenting on tweets with which they either agree or disagree. Regardless of the extent of the engagement and the positive or negative nature of the content being published, this kind of participation and interactivity enabled by social media reflects a microcosm of democratic behaviour.
— #YouDecide9 (@YouDecide9) September 7, 2013
Does Rudd have any policies, seems intent on attacking Abbott rather than answering any questions #YouDecide9
— james hs (@jimmy_spin) August 28, 2013
— Lauren Gianoli (@LaurenGianoli) August 28, 2013
— #YouDecide9 (@YouDecide9) August 26, 2013
Another example of the role of media convergence in engaging youth politically is the Guardian’s online initiative, ‘Guardian Witness’. This is a website which encourages readers of the Guardian to contribute to online content by publishing images, videos and stories about a chosen ‘assignment’ topic which is opened by the publication. This innovative way of publicising society’s views on certain topics of interest was quite appropriately advertised via a viral video.
The advert for The Guardian’s open journalism follows the well known story of the Three Little Pigs. It frames the story from a journalistic perspective and publishes it in the media both via print and online media.
Similarly, this is what the Guardian aims to do with real life stories. An example of this in practice is the current open assignment, Adelaide’s ‘March in May’ protest against the Federal Budget, 2014. Protesters have taken photos from the demonstration in front of Parliament House and submitted them to the Guardian Witness website in order to be moderated and published. Click here to see the assignment.
This traditional media publication has employed an innovative way of integrating online media to successfully engage democratic citizens in political journalism.