Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Celebrities, Social Media, and Diversity in Journalism

By: Maggie Lilac 

The tension surrounding diversity and race in the media and journalism is not a new problem. Journalists have and will always be put in tough situations that deal with different race, culture and ethnicity's, we have to consider the best and most ethical way to handle it. 

With the recent situations like the court cases and riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, social media played a huge role in how youth culture felt and related to the rulings. CNN and other news outlets who used social media and "live tweeted" during the riots could not avoid the constant #blacklivesmatter movement; rather the nation couldn't avoid it. 

The Black Lives Matter movement was started to promote the idea that police officers across the nation don't care about black lives as much as they care about white lives due to the multiple recent shooting and killing of when seem to be innocent blacks. While the movement started out as a hash tag, it has grown into a full fledged campaign including a website and Twitter. 

With hash tags and campaigns like "black lives matter", "hands up don't shoot" and "I can't breathe", particularly African American youths were using twitter as an outlet for their frustrations. Many news anchors and reporters followed the hash tags closely and read tweets live on air.  During the riots, many celebrities chimed in their thoughts about what was taking place. 

Black and white celebrities used their fame to express their thoughts on many social media outlets. Celebs like Kobe Bryant who tweeted "The system enables young black men to be killed behind the mask of the law #Ferguson #tippingpoint #change", Macklemore tweeted "The system that instills & protects white supremacy wins again. Humanity loses...No justice. I pray for Mike Brown & his family. So sad," and even Beyoncé herself posted this picture to her Instagram:

A listicle in Cosmopolitan Magazine describes the misconceptions of the Black Lives Matter movement. In one quote, the author talks about the idea of new protest music. "A new generation of protest music has come forth with songs from Janelle Monae, Prince, J. Cole, Lauryn Hill, and Rick Ross. The first national convening in July drew over 1,000 participants. There is a new consciousness and a new spirit seeing justice, and the participants carrying the torch show no signs of slowing down."

Janelle Monae is very vocal about her views and beliefs on the Black Lives Matter movement. She recently performed on the Today show and when she finished her performance, decided to enlighten the crowd. "God bless America. God bless all who've lost lives to police brutality. We want white America to know that we stand tall today. We want black America to know that we stand tall today. We will not be silenced." As she was speaking the camera slowly panned away and screened over the crowd. 

Social media has become one of the largest platforms for celebrities to connect with their fans, not to mention one of the easiest. With people like Janelle Monae having 649.5 thousand followers on twitter and Beyoncé having 46.7 million on Instagram, they have a huge influence on not just the people, including youths, that follow them but also the media. Outlets like E! News report on things celebrities have tweeted and when things get political, they can also get heated. In such a short amount of time celebrities have gone from pop culture figures to political influences and we have social media to thank for it. 

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