MAINSTREAM MEDIA – forced to tackle the hype

Over the course of one week, the success of the campaign (it terms of going viral) has demonstrated significant forwarding abilities, the point being: the representation of KONY 2012 could no longer be ignored.

The Telegraph is just one example of a leading publication who gave in to the media and social attention the campaign was receiving thus deciding to cover the KONY essentials. 

The Daily Telegraph  only five days after the video was posted, ran a KONY 2012 two page spread that was advertised on the front page. The news feature titled “Murderer on trial by media(Marcus, J & Domjen, B 2012) segmented the article into details about who Kony is, what the video was and information regarding Jason Russell and the Invisible Children foundation. However the main section of the spread was concerned with nature of the campaign and the role of social media.

 Sunday Sunrise that same morning dedicated 40 minutes of its three hour program to the ‘Ugandan warlord’ as well to the man behind the social phenomenon Jason Russell. Sunrise producer Adam Boland said,

“The viewer’s appetite for the story was insatiable”…

with claims of channel 7 receiving “an e-mail every 10 seconds from people demanding that the issue be tackled by mainstream media.” Viewers were also organised by Sunrise for a rally to help “make Kony famous” that took place outside Martin Place. 

It is no surprise channel Nine’s Today Show  also dedicated a lengthy amount of air time in coverage in the same manner as channel Seven’s Sunrise.

But it did not stop there, Ten’s The Project covered the prime time timeslot with a special one hour episode in which the


 official video was shown in full.

But what does this say about the role of mainstream media in the representation of the KONY 2012 campaign?

Each show respectively allowed a panel of hosts and guests to discuss the issue, however in a different manner to that of social networking sites. Interviews were conducted with marketing experts, scholars and directly with Mr Russell himself adding a greater degree of validity and credibility to the sources of opinion.

The ‘gatekeepers’ behind national broadcasting shows sustain a level of regulation and control that social media lacks (Gillman, 2011, pg 254). So although the issue was discussed, it was done so in a more balanced approach allowing both sides of the story to be told as well the differing opinions of well informed individuals. This offers society a chance to look further into the issue and not just take on the face value presented by Russell’s video.

 All three Australian networks by no doubt covered the topic due to its strong currency in the media targeting individuals at all stages of knowledge with the issue. The audience would have included those of the then 80 million viewers of the video and those curious wanting to know what KONY 2012 was all about.

The coverage with mainstream media certainly reached out to the older demographics being a  more traditional media format in correspondence with the findings of the PEW Research Centre. (See post below).

Although the media sphere is ever changing, it is evident there is still a strong place for traditional media due to its role in justifying what perhaps is user-generated content. However, as the issue was covered with an appeal to a different demographic of viewers than of social networking, could these broadcasting mediums be responsible for further commercialising the issue? By all means, it is fair to say they have contributed to the global hype and sparked national conversation.

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