Media and the American Environmental Movement

Benjamin von Duyke

For the environmental movement, a website is a way to mobilize supporters and to deliver information. The Internet is an extremely useful tool for ensuring that the environment is maintained and that businesses operate ethically. Movements against the Dakota access pipeline were organized through internet activism and BP was held responsible for multiple spills using Twitter and websites focused on environmental advocacy. On many environmentalist organizations webpages, they speak out for not only environmental activism, but political activism, encouraging voters to support the politicians who support the environment and to oust Donald Trump and his climate change denying cabinet. These movements use photographs to show how companies misuse public lands and to show images of protestors mobilizing and affecting change.

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              For my own website, I will be using images and videos for two distinct purposes. The first will be to show the natural beauty of the United States and the areas within which we must protect and defend. This will encourage people to act as proper stewards for the natural beauty we all share. The second use of videos and images will be to show people the consequences which arise when regulations are loosened or become lax, and to reveal how private interest group can abuse our shared Earth when left unchecked. These two purposes act to show what we have to gain from the protection of the natural American environment, and how people and the Earth at large suffer when we fail to regulate businesses.

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I would also like to incorporate poetry as a medium in my website. I think that poetry is inextricably linked to the American Environmental movement. In my opinion, American Transcendentalism is one of the most important artistic movements in America and its writers chose to capture the natural beauty of the American landscape through lyrical lenses.

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Pro-Life Online

The pro-life movement utilizes online platforms to gain support and inform viewers. Online resources keep the cause in the public eye and elevate its significance. With much of mainstream culture and legislation currently in conflict with the movement, online media counteracts this perception and highlights the movement’s vitality.

One way movements attain a greater audience is through publicized large-scale protests and marches. March for Life is a great example. Its website and social media platforms keep supporters apprised of news while inspiring newcomers to become involved through pictures and videos of the march. f8bee-midwestSmaller gatherings around the country also use online sources to spread information and garner a greater following.

Movements also use online media to build sub-communities within local areas that foster smaller gatherings. An example of this is the Pro-Life Vanguard group at UD. They use their blog to invite the student body to attend their meetings while simultaneously informing them of pro-life current events.banner

The movement also shares online petitions to build legislative leverage. Supporters are able to see others who stand in solidarity with them and can feel a sense of inclusion despite lacking a physical connection.

The pro-life movement often posts emotional appeals such as pictures of babies or women releasing balloons to demonstrate their regret of having an abortion. I want to capture this sentiment through video clips of protests, specifically March for Life, and illustrate how people are mobilizing to take action. I’ll also include graphics that show statistics of different state abortion legislation, old planned parenthood pamphlets, and more. I plan to explain how the pro-life movement changed slowly over time through shifts in public perception and chronicle its historical significance.100_8558

Lastly, I want to organize my website in a manner that is easy to follow, so viewers can see the movement’s evolution, as well as the reason behind it. By providing a balanced history of the movement, including the opposition’s stance, viewers will be invited to form their own opinions.

Fight Against the Travel Ban

Obviously, movements that developed and spanned earlier in history did not have equivalent access to the Internet and television that current ones have. Movements and activist groups in the recent years are fortunate in the ability to spread their message through the use of websites, social media, and the news. Lucky for me, I am looking into the Travel Ban imposed by President Trump that quite literally dates back to last month. The internet is amazing in that it can connect millions of people without having to leave the comfort of home, but it also displays numerous sources of information for the public. Most of the news about the ban have to do with the onsite protests against the ban at airports, but the internet plays a major role in channeling the negative energy towards the ban into articles, stands, and even memes. The ‘millennials’ have a huge voice now and through social media they voice their issues. All of the negative backlash on social media for the travel ban most likely had a major impact on the decision by the court to put a hold on the ban. Additionally,  Videos and pictures caught at some of the protests circulate around the internet and this cause more and more people to join in the movement because they get to see what is occurring without actually being there to witness.

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A specific webpage should be enticing and really stand out to the viewer. The homepage should immediately grab people’s attention and the page should not let go until the viewer is convinced of the message. Use of videos, audio, and pictures is almost necessary because large spans of text turn the average observer away. For my webpage, I want the visitor to be moved right as the click to the page, so large text saying “No Ban No Wall” would immediately press the concern. Videos of people protesting at airports, I feel, would also really stand out and give the page an initial jump.

Organization is also key to a successful webpage. Similar to the Campaign Zero website, my website needs to have clearly labeled section such as problem, solution, research, articles, etc. I think this user-friendly setup could actually sway people towards the argument at hand because of the fluidity of navigation. All in all, I really want my website to contain  vivid pictures and colors, energizing video clips, and a simple and thought out method of maneuvering throughout the site. End users, or viewers, would hopefully see that and be drawn in and maybe end up supporting the cause.

Student Debt Platform

For the issue of student debt, an online platform proves vital and encouraging to helping quell the problem.  The internet stands a great means to reach almost everyone in today’s world, especially college students and college graduates, who the issue has the greatest impact on.  Although this issue affects many people decades after graduation, it poses the greatest impact in the short term, so the young age of those affected the most propels for greater spread through social media.  As younger individuals are more inclined to use social media, the ability to reach a larger audience, by the means of twitter, etc., proves easier.  Likewise, the staggering statistics set forth in various website platforms proves vital in spreading the extent of such an issue.  One website that I feel does a great job of doing so is debtcollective.org.  Upon entering the website, the visitor sees the amount of reported debt on the website in the United States.  Even though many people will not have reported their debt, the number presented is still astounding, standing well into the one hundred millions.  Additionally, the website provides links to several articles that speak to the injustice of student debt that many people face and proves easy to navigate.  Moreover, it provides a platform for people to debate on ways to promote advocacy and direct action on how to combat the issue, and as a result, gathers people into a more cohesive unit and allows for greater spread of the problem.  The website also launched Rolling Jubilee, a project that intends to abolish student debt.  This website furthers awareness on the topic, allowing for users to spread the word through twitter and by providing videos ranging from information on the issue to actual student protests that have occurred as a result of student debt.

Much like the websites above, I intend to make my website easy to navigate from topic to topic.  I also hope to present the information and statistics in the most efficient way possible as the two websites have done, highlighting the stats that validate the great extent of the issue.  Furthermore, the use of various pictures and videos aided in the experience of the websites as it created a greater emotional response to the students who are impacted, so I hope to incorporate such visuals in order to create a similar effect.  Overall, the most important aspect of my website will be to help the reader understand how truly comparable the issue of student debt is, and that there are several ways to combat the issue and lessen the burden it places on countless people throughout the nation.

Providing Another Angle

As of right now, there are only two websites that I know of that are dedicated toward suicide and bullying prevention. Ironically, the first is a WordPress site created by the founder of P.S. I Love You Day. The second is a networking site created by the same person in more recent years. They are both set up rather similarly. The home page is a powerful video recorded and featuring the founder herself. It simply conveys the message, the purpose, and how to minimally be involved. Additionally, there are tabs where a viewer can find out more about how the event began, information about the upcoming event, information about how to get involved or contact the directors, and pictures of past events. I plan to structure my website a little bit differently. My website’s purpose will be to explore self-harm and suicide as broader terms. I plan to have the home page give statistics about self-harm and suicide globally. The purpose of this is to draw readers in who may be on the fence about this movement. This heart-wrenching opening will hopefully grip a person’s emotions enough to continue exploring the website. I then plan to have the bottom of the home page show the video of the founder of the event that is a part of the movement, and the video of my coworker. Both are social proof that this movement is effective, but it also shows any viewer who may be struggling with issues of self-harm that there are people out there willing to help, and he/ she is not alone in this struggle. There will be a tab that explains the purpose of the movement and the story of the founder of the event. I plan for the second part of my webpage to include a section on the reasons why people self-harm and how to identify warning signs. I believe this will inform viewers and help them understand the illness itself. It may spark thoughts of people in their own lives who may be struggling with these issues, now that the individual is aware of the warning signs. In terms of media, I think the most effective type would be the videos. I believe the more social proof this website shows, the better it will be. It will hopefully convince people who may be victims of this illness that there is still hope, and there are people out there who are ready to help. I also believe the videos show the positive impact this movement has had, and can continue to have on the world. I believe this will help convince people who are skeptical at first to become more involved.

Conservation of Elephants

An online platform for the movement of conserving elephants will add another voice to the community of conservationists who are already working to save these animals, along with all of the other wildlife conservation efforts. Save the Elephants, an UK organization based in Kenya, was founded in 1993 and is one of the leaders for conserving elephants and their habitats. Their website has details of all of their past, current, and future projects to reach their goal, and contains information that is easy to interpret by anyone who reads it. It contains logical information presented in a way that shows their passion toward preserving elephants. In addition to Save the Elephants, there are other organizations working to protect elephants, African wildlife, and wildlife in general that use online platforms to provide information. Some of these include the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), Save Elephants, and Ninety-Six Elephants. Many of these organizations and websites encourage the conservation of elephants and ending the ivory trade that is pushing them to the brink of extinction. 

Another way this movement uses the online community to build their platform is by selling products. For example, Ivory Ella is a clothing and accessory brand that donates 10% of their net profits to Save the Elephants. With the slogan: “Good Clothes for a Good Cause,” Ivory Ella, in less than two years, has donated over $1,000,000 to Save the Elephants to help them in their projects to conserve elephants. Their products also reach people in their every-day lives and raise awareness for preserving elephants when their customers wear their products. Walking around our own campus, I usually spot a few people every week wearing an Ivory Ella shirt. Ivory Ella creates a branch between the online community of conservationists and people in their daily lives. It also helps because selling a product makes people more likely to donate money. The donation is incorporated into the price of the clothing, so customers don’t really feel like they are spending extra. Because many people are hesitant to hit the “donate now” button, offering a product in exchange makes people more willing to put some of their money toward the organization. Plus, considering some people buy Ivory Ella products as gifts for people they know love elephants, it reaches another audience of people who may actually just be neutral on the subject.

For my own website, I want to portray the information I gather as effectively as some of the other websites I found related to this cause. A lot of the websites incorporate images that support the text on the websites, or that will grab the reader’s attention to make them read that part of the website. For example, Ninety-Six Elephants uses an origami image of an elephant to say, “Join the fold,” making a clever pun for people to join others who already support the cause. They also use an image with police tape to emphasize that wildlife trafficking is a crime, and that we should work to end it. I also want to remind readers that they do not have to make a direct donation to a charity to help this movement, but that they can help by purchasing products that will raise awareness and contribute some of the profits to the cause. I want viewers of my website to have enough information on the issues facing elephants and their habitats, and to know that there is more than one way to help conservation efforts. 

 

Using the internet to advocate for change

An online platform is absolutely vital for the movement that I am following (climate change awareness and reducing its impact). The topic can be rather complicated in some ways, and the internet is a great medium to convey the movement’s message in a more simplified way. For example, fully understanding the depletion of the ozone layer can be difficult, as some scientific background and lots of scientific terminology is needed to conceptually understand why it is happening. This video features Bill Nye, a very recognizable face, explaining in layman’s terms what climate change is and why it is happening. He uses everyday vocabulary, and the video includes many diagrams and graphics which make the information he is giving much more digestible. I intend to include forms of media very much like this. For example, I may include an infographic that is easy to understand for the general viewer and visually pleasing, like this picture:health-care-and-climate-change_5565db5177ae2_w1500

I want the layout of my website to be very easy to navigate. A particular movement regarding climate change that I will try to model my site after is 350.org. They utilize social media to advocate their beliefs. For example, their website has a section dedicated to all of their Facebook posts, and on the front page they include a feed of their Twitter account, which posts about news and updates regarding climate change awareness and clean energy. Overall, the layout of a web page means a lot to the viewer because if the web page is not visually pleasing or not easily navigated, the viewer will leave, and the information intended for viewers will never actually reach them.

A Mass Movement Before the Rise of Social Media

Since my movement took place in the 1960s (Anti-Vietnam War), the online platform was not a part of this movement. The internet was being invented around the same time that this movement was gaining support and strength, so the supporters of the movement had to find another way to spread their message. As I was doing research, I discovered that a big way that this anti-war movement spread and caught attention was through music. Since online platforms like Twitter, Facebook, news sites, etc. didn’t exist to spread a mass message quickly and to a lot of people, many popular artists spread the word through their songs. Some examples of these artists are Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe and the Fish, Bob Dylan, and John Lennon. Many of these artists were prominent figures and constantly had attention from the press as well, which also helped to spread their message.

This particular movement has ended, but there have been many other peace protests and anti-war protests since then, such as the anti-Iraq War demonstrations. Since this movement has ended, I think the purpose of my website will be more to provide information about this historical movement more than trying to get people to join a particular movement/belief. In order to portray a comprehensive view of this movement, I want to incorporate a lot of media into my website. I’m planning to embed multiple videos of popular anti-war songs so the audience can see how music was used heavily as a political tool at the time. It’s quite different to the way music is now. I’m also going to map out this movement in a timeline with pictures so the audience can easily visualize the process of the anti-Vietnam War movement. My website will also include multiple pages focusing on different parts of the movement (Purpose, About, Cause, etc.) so that the information is well-organized and easy to browse through. WordPress also has a helpful tool called Text Widget which allows you to add text or HTML to the sidebar of your site. I was thinking I could use this tool to add links to related resources or links to my other pages.

Although the online platforms were not used at the time of this movement, I can use the accessibility and interactivity of online platforms in order to inform my audience of this particular movement in history.

Student Loan Debt’s Online Platform

An online platform is vital for the movement I am looking at, Student Loan Debt. Given that the most affected group of people are students or recent graduates, the internet is a great way to reach them. Since the statistics surrounding student loan debt are so shocking, pictures that show how much debt people are accumulating based on region or on average are a quick and easy to get the message across. The numbers are undeniable, which is why when you google the movement that is the first thing you see. Another part of their platform is very informal but reaches a large audience: memes and twitter. There are pages upon pages of SpongeBob and Arthur and Disney themed student loan memes that highlight the frustration and pain caused by student loans through humor. The movement reaches their audience in many unconventional ways, but they also use a traditional website. One website is called Rolling Jubilee and it has a very appealing layout. The first thing you see is a current counter that advertises the current amount of money they have raised towards their cause and how much debt they have “abolished” total. They present statistics with easy to interpret drawings that make it more interesting. As already mentioned they take advantage of twitter’s influence on people’s lives, for instance they have a section that allows the viewer to simply click on a premade tweet and post it directly. Another form of media that they use a lot is videos. They have videos that span the range of polished professional recording explaining their plans and stance to home videos of protests and marches to boost morale and encourage action. Something I find really effective is the personal story videos that Student Debt Crisis has on their website. I think it makes the movement more relevant and relatable. I plan to include a variety of the types of media that the movement uses. I think it would be useful to use the more lighthearted memes to grab the viewer’s attention, but then also include the more moving personal story videos to really have the message hit home. I think it is also important to include statistical pictures/diagrams on my website because it helps to show the relevance of the issue. I will also include some audio clips to help show another way people get their information about the issues and the movement. I think NPR does a good job of showing how people seek advice about their student loans and decisions people have to make about savings and loans. I plan to include this variety of media because different viewers learn in different ways and by having different types of media presented in an appealing and easy to use way will reach the whole audience the best.

 

Protect Each Other

I am focusing on the movement involving sexual assault on college campuses. This is a very sensitive topic for many, which makes it a taboo to talk about in some cases. Using online platforms is a powerful way of talking about sexual assault and putting it out there without asking if it’s okay. I think that in order to get the movement out there, it has to be seen and cause some emotional response. Pictures do a lot in this sense, when you see images of broken and battered people it speaks a lot more than words. Powerful images speak to people through words that are hard to put together but make sense of the issue in a new light. To bring the issue to attention, I want to make it real and not censor anything. The more truth involved, the more people will want to help and get involved. My layout will include different sections that talk about what sexual assault it, how you can help others, and how you can help yourself.  I am going to include real life stories that are tear-jerking and serious, but need to be known. I want it to be eye-catching, look important, and be professional to symbolize this being an actual problem that needs to be taken seriously. With statistics, definitions, stories, and help offered, I think potential viewers will either be swayed to join the movement or be thankful that there are people to help them. Either way, I think this topic is very crucial to college campuses and should be talked about- whether people want to talk about it or not.anti-rape-on-campus-protest-64397f020a25fc07sa1