The struggle for marriage equality in the United States has been a long time coming. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) enacted in 1996 prevented gay marriages, even those legal in their home states, from being recognized in other states and as well as from being recognized federally. For example, you could be legally married in California, but move to Tennessee and that marriage would not be recognized, and all of your legal rights as a spouse would be dissolved. DOMA blocked health insurance, pension protections, social security benefits, support and benefits for military spouses, and immigration protections for couples from different nations, among others.  Before 2015, it was up to individual states to rule on whether or not gay marriage was legal. Gay marriage was legal in 38 states plus Guam and the District of Columbia. In thee conservative states of the 38 there were restrictions on recognizing gay marriages.

On June 26, 2015, in a 5-4 vote the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision to make gay marriage legal in all 50 states of the US. They found the laws preventing gay marriage to be discriminatory and the justification for gay marraige, equality, to be a fair argument. Following this ruling, President Obama and the White House tweeted:

The #LoveWins hashtag began to trend immeditaley following President Obama and the White Houses’ tweets, and #LoveWins became a worldwide phenomena. Obviously, being the president of the US, Obama’s tweet and hashtag had the ability to instantly pentetrate the entire world given his several million followers, worldwide fame, and credability as the leader of the free world.  The hashtag along with rainbow colored imagery appeared all over social media sites, advertisements, and on US and forgein streets. Huge brands like Coca Cola even got in on the opportunity to take advantage of this historic moment and promote equality while selling their brand:

Data tracked from the day #LoveWins began to trend shows that at it’s peak the hashtag #LoveWins had 35,000 tweets sent per minute.  As of one day following the ruling, there were 6.2 million tweets related to the passing of the gay marriage ruling.

“To put that in context, 3.5 million tweets mentioning #Ferguson were sent out in less than one day following the jury decision on the Michael Brown case in November 2014. Following the attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, tweets with the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie reached 2.1 million about six hours after the attack.” – International Business Times

#LoveWins was indeed a widely shared and important hashtag to both those in the LGBT community and their allies.

As evidenced above, the hashtag #LoveWins had extreme reach and relevence, due in part to the person with which the hashtag originated, President Barack Obama. It also caught on so quickly because the issue of marriage equality was so important to millions of people all over the world. When a hashtag has credibility and represents an important issue to many, it can gain a lot of traction.


Politics 2.0

The way political information is distributed, the way a politician runs his or her campaign, and the way an election is won have all changed since the dawning of the internet.  While traditional outlets including televised press conferences and town halls were how people interested in politics heard about their potential candidates, now there are a plethora of ways for politicians to reach their constituets, and it is up to those politicians to decide the best way to do so.

Take former president Barack Obama and his 2008 campaign for the presidential seat.  It will go down in history books that Mr. Obama was the first president to win a political election by way of using the web, in addition to traditional, 1.0 methods.  Young voters under age 25 were instrumental in electing this leader, as nearly 70% of registered voted between the ages of 18-25 pulled the level for Obama in 2008.  This is in great part due to this ability to use the web as a tool that young people were literate, and even obsessed with.  The platforms he maintained included  Facebook, Twitter, the MyBarackObama website, Youtube, a blog, and buying online ads rather than only traditional TV and radio spots.

Below is a video used to promote the 2008 election of Barack Obama, it was distributed via Youtube and posted to President Obama’s Twitter and immediately went viral:

The web has also allowed for not only people interested in politics, but those not as involved to become aware of candidates and where they lie on issues important to them.  Rather than having to seek out traditional outlets, which only those with a keen interest in politics would do, the internet as a platform for distributing political information reached American citizen who would have never turned to C-SPAN on their television sets, or PBS on their radios.  In 2008, not only Obama’s message that resonated with youth, but also the ability to research at their finger tips via platforms they were comfortable with, like Twitter, and with just the click of a follow button, ensured Obama would reach more people then a electoral candidate ever had before.

This tweet following the 2012 re-eleciton of President Obama, was the most popular tweet ever at the time of its posting:

I can only imagine that today Obama’s 2008 election strategy is a case study used by people running for all types of office.  Donald Trump has become next politician to really get a handle on social media and the web 2.0 and use it to his advantage, along with traditional outlets.  In fact, Mr. Trump used Twitter pre-election as much as he uses it post-election.  Here is a tweet he posted just yesterday:

Web 2.0 had made Politics 2.0 a reality, and one that can be harnessed to reach the highest office in the land, if used correctly.


Ana López from Estrella Damm

Ana López, former head of digital marketing for Estrella Damm, came and spoke with our class today about building a brand in the internet age, digital marketing, and how she lead the way in increasing Estrella Damm’s brand awareness across Spain, and the world, with Spain’s first viral, long-form video.

Ms. López received her bachelor’s degree from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in journalism and social/cultural anthropology.  She went on to receive a masters at ESIC in communication and advertising management, studying traditional media strategies.  Following her schooling, Ana began working in the PR and advertising fields in Barcelona.  Her big break came when a year after joining Estrella Damm as a brand manager, she became the head of digital marketing; in fact, she was the only person on the digital team.  Ms. López started worked from the ground up in 2009, building from scratch all of the beer brand’s social media accounts, including a Youtube channel, Twitter account, Facebook profile, and Instagram feed.

She insisted the brand should be about a lifestyle, not just a target segment.  Instead of reaching women 25-60 in Western Europe who make 50,000+ a year,  Estrella would instead reach people by providing a connection to culture and feeling, the mediterranean lifestyle.  Estrella’s Instagram feed reads like an Instagram influencer’s travel blog

As a team of one, she decided digital was the place Estrella should be investing  time and money, and curated Estrella’s first long-form, Youtube video.  The four minute-long video depicted the essence of the Estrella Damm brand- the mediterranean way of life- which includes music, friendship and culture.  The ad went viral, the first commercial of its kind to do so in Spain, and brand awareness increased over 200% percent immediately following the release of the video.  The commercial’s tune, sung by a relatively unknown Swedish band, became the most downloaded song of the summer in Spain.  The location where the video took place, Formentera, became the most traveled to destination in Spain.  Ana López took a brand with a niche audience in Catalunya worldwide and expanded its popularity in Spain tenfold.  Her early adoption of digital marketing strategies was integral to Estrella Damm achieving a cult following and a broader audience worldwide.  It led not only beer and beverage companies in the online advertising game, but all brands nationwide in Spain.

Ana followed up this successful campaign with another in 2015, starring Dakota Johnson of 50 Shades of Gray.  This 12 minute film titled “Vale”, looks at barriers between two people with very little knowledge of each other’s language and culture.  Estrella is used as the gateway to knowledge and common understanding.  This short film as of today has earned 7 million views and increased Estrella’s brand awareness by another 5% in Spain and 30% in the United Kingdom.  By the time of the release of “Vale”, Ana had 30 people working for her digital marketing, a big boost since the team of one in 2009.

Ms. López and Estrella Damm seized the moment and used a powerful, not widely yet used advertising tool to the advantage of their brand.  Their swift adoption of social media and online strategies truly worked to the advantage of Estrella Damm.

Valentí Sanjuan

Valentí Sanjuan

When I came to class on Wednesday with questions prepared for our guest speaker Valentí Sanjuan, I was not aware of the scope of his brand, despite my extensive research on the internet.  My limited Spanish vocabulary kept me from reading much of the literature on Valentí, so I assumed he was a professional athlete who ran Ironmans and posted videos of his adventures to Youtube.  Additionally, I knew he must be a journalist because after all, he was attending our class titled Journalism 2.0.  What I found once he came to class was he was so much more than any of those things.  He is a personality, a brand, a Youtube star, an athlete, a creative director, an entrepreneur, and an influencer.

Valentí Sanjuan started off 15 years ago as a traditional journalist and radio personality, before social networking and online video platforms became such an integral part of journalism.  As Youtube came on the scene as a major space for people to consume media, Valentí posted his first video on the channel vistolovistoTV.  This channel featured talk show-style formatted videos with guest interviews, comedians, and recurring characters on stage with a live audience, which he later edited and uploaded to Youtube.  This channel now has 150k subscribers and the top viewed video clip has over 2 million hits.  After gaining a big following on the original channel, Valentí expanded his Youtube presence to include 5 separate channels:  Entreno Del Día, ValentiEstaLoco, Mercé Sanjuan, Valentí Sanjuan, and vistolovistoTV.  Each channel has something different for a different viewer base, be it extreme sports videos or comedic skits.

After solidifying a fan base, the Ironman began to receive sponsorship opportunities and offers for partnerships with other successful Youtubers.  This is when the money began to roll in for Valentí; his sponsors now include Estrella Damm, Nestle, DIR, Sony, and Mango.  With money flowing and the need to produce more content for these sponsors and partnerships, he founded and became the creative director of Gordon Seen, a branded content media company.  Via this company, Valentí was able to invest his money into hiring a team of collaborators, purchasing higher quality equipment, and growing his online presence even further.   The investment paid off, as he is able to successfully create frequent, high quality, widely viewed content on all of his channels.

Valentí has his own idea of who he is and the business model he created for himself.  He told our class he has several bosses: Youtube, his sponsors, viewers, and himself.  Youtube is the medium through which he distributes his content, and without it he would not have a way to share his videos with the world.  Sponsors give him the capital and credibility to keep creating and sharing his videos with his audience.  Without viewers, Valentí would have no one to watch his content and would be out of a job.  And he is his own boss as he created his own online influencer persona and has the authority to do with that what he chooses.

Valentí Sanjuan

Valentí is what I call an internet-age entrepreneur.  Meet Valentí Sanjuan here.

Citizen Journalism

In class the past few weeks we have discussed citizen journalism and it’s place today in the media landscape.  Citizen journalism has been on the rise in the last 10 years and one of the precursors to the shift to citizen journalism was the “Miracle on the Hudson” in early 2009.  As most know, pilot Chesley Sullenberger attempted an emergency landing of a passenger aircraft US Airways Flight 1549 by landing in the Hudson river in New York City on January 15th, 2009.  He was successful in his attempt and all passengers safely deboarded the plane and made it to land.  The outlet to break news of this story was not a news channel or media group, but an everyday American citizen who posted about the Miracle to Twitter.

Krums’ photo, uploaded to TwitPic and tweeted to the public, broke the story nearly 15 minutes before any news outlets had the opportunity to do so. Though he only had roughly 170 followers, the picture went viral. Due to the volume of hits as the picture spread, TwitPic servers crashed.  This moment sparked a new wave of journalism that we are talking about in the classroom today; journalism where the everyday civilian has the ear and eyes of the public.


Tools for Journalists

Modern journalists employ many tools to spread news.  Some of those include social media, SEO/SEM, tagging, and various Google tools.  A tool I use in my social media class here at CEA and many other journalists use to connect social media to their reporting is Storify.  Storify’s platform is set up so that you can write your copy and then inside the site search Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Giphy, Flickr, Getty Images, Google, or attach an embedded URL to add content to the post.  This makes a journalist’s writing much more visual and creates an easy way for them to get people onto their social media profile, by providing easy to click links.  You can read about the refugee crisis, see a twitter post from someone inside Syria, click on a Facebook article about how congress is handling policy about Syrian refugees, and see an image of the Syrian border all in one post.  It is the ultimate aggregator of content for a journalist.  Some pros of Storify include that it is simple to navigate, similar to a blog, great for storytelling, visual, is connected to many tools, and is less work then having to go to each platform to attach content.


Other tools that are in helpful to journalists are the use of tags, search engine optimization, and search engine marketing.  It is important to stress how essential the use of tags are, as that is how people find and share your content on the web.  Using key words that you know people will type into each engines will give you a better chance of having your posts seen and your voice heard.  So for example, I will categorize this post on my blog under social media and journalism, and the tags I will include are Storify, SEO/SEM, and Journalism Tools. These tags make my blog easily searchable and more likely to come up in a browser search.  Search engine optimization or SEO is the idea of maximizing the number of visitors to a site by making sure your site appears on the top of the list of results put out by a search engine.  Strategies to do this include making SEO friendly URLs, starting a blog and participating in other blogs, and making sure the page title is easily searchable, as this is the single most important factor to good SEO.  Search engine marketing or SEM is the paid version of SEO, using advertisements to get your site to the top of search engine results.  SEM is only a real possibility for bigger companies or people with substantial funds that can pay Google and other search engine sites to prioritize their site over others.

Mobile Journalism

Citizen Journalist in Syria
Citizen/Mobile Journalist in Syria

Imagine living in a war zone in Syria.  Now imagine living in a war zone where the media is barred from reporting events to the outside world.  Mobile Journalism is a new wave of journalism that has come to fill in the gaps where members of the media cannot reach.  In Aleppo, mobile journalists can be everyday people who are dedicated to reporting events about the war that Assad and his government try to cover by barring establishment journalists from entering the country and reporting.  These “citizen journalists” take to the streets with their phones to take photo, video, and write accounts of the horror happening in their country, usually anonymously as not to be targeted by the pro-Assad regime.  Thanks to mobile telephones, which are easily transported and hidden, people in war-torn areas have the opportunity to tell their story to the world when the media does not have the ability to speak for them.

Citizen/ Mobile Journalists in New York City at Occupy Wall Street Movement
Citizen/ Mobile Journalists in New York City at Occupy Wall Street Movement

Mobile journalism does not have to take place in a war-torn country like Syria, we have also seen it in the United States.  As seen in social/digital activism cases like the Occupy Wall Street movement, social media catapults social movements onto a stage like never before. While the movement was seen on television and in the papers as New York City 99 percenters protesting outside Wall Street, “another crowd assembled in a range of online spaces. Moving between the physical and the virtual… appropriating its platforms and creating new structures within it. As they posted links, updates, photos and videos on social media sites; as they deliberated in chat rooms and collaborated on crowdmaps; as they took to the streets with smartphones, occupiers tested the parameters of this multiply mediated world.” Social media and mobile devices are invaluable tools that activists today have at their fingertips. The ability to reach millions with the touch of a “post” button and organize a demonstration or create an online petition lets people around the world become a part of a movement that before the internet would have stayed centralized, or have taken much longer to reach a global footing. Media journalists can use social media to get the word out about any cause they are passionate about and to mobilize the masses as well.