Lecture raises awareness and the importance of social media

Alexandra Taylor

Journalists and professors shared information about how social media are used in politics and communication in the United States and other countries at Social Media and Democracy: Giving a Voice to the Silenced on Tuesday night.

“We have this alternative (social media) to give people a voice,” said Paul Haridakis, director of the school of communication studies and one of the speaker’s at the event held in the First Energy Auditorium in Franklin Hall.

The Pulitzer Center, the School of Communication Studies and the political science department at Kent State sponsored the event. It was part of the Gerald H. Read Distinguished Lecture Series and also a part of International Education Week.

The event began with facilitator Caroline D’Angelo, social media editor for the Pulitzer Center, showing a documentary entitled “No Fire Zone,” documenting the civil war in Sri Lanka.

“One of the reasons you may not know about the civil war… is because the government actually squashed free media. So, nobody really knew what was happening,” said D’Angelo. “It’s found footage. It’s actually people inside the war, taping what was happening with their cell phones… This just shows what social media can really do.”

Pulitzer Center journalist Jenna Krajeski Skyped in for the event via Istanbul, Turkey. Krajeski talked about how the media has not been focusing on the protests in Turkey, protesters have been using social media as a platform to communicate where to meet, who has been arrested and who has been killed or injured during the protests.

“From Egypt to Turkey, you sort of don’t realize how much of an influence social media has until you’re in a place where the traditional media sort of completely and totally fails,” said Krajeski.

Krajeski currently lives in Turkey focusing on reporting about the Kurdish (people of Turkey and Iraq) minorities. Her job is dangerous because Turkey is number one in the world for jailing journalists, said D’Angelo.

Other discussions at the event included “Social Media in an established democracy,” by Haridakis, who talked about in his research about how little the average American (ages 18-56) uses social networking websites for political news and “Diplomacy and Social Media,” by political science professor Steven W. Hook, who discussed how the U.S. government agencies are using Twitter and how it affects public image. Senior writer for the publication Foreign Policy, Yochi Dreazen was unable to speak at the event due to covering a story.

Contact Alexandra Taylor at [email protected].