Social Media and Trudeau’s 2015 Campaign

By mobilizing potential voters and personalizing his campaign via social media, Justin Trudeau used digital technologies to his advantage in Canada’s federal election last year.

Trudeau appeared relatable on social media in his openness to having selfies taken with potential voters. Photo: Canadian Press

 

When Justin Trudeau won the leadership position of Canada’s Liberal Party in 2013, social media was widely viewed as a key element of his success (Gruzd and Roy 2014). The use of social media in political processes and debates, however, was not new at the time. While few candidates were committed to using social media to its full potential in the UK’s 2010 general election (Southern and Ward 2011), Barack Obama’s exploitation of social media in America’s 2008 primary and presidential election continues to be heralded as the model for the full potential of digital technology in an election campaign (Strömer-Galley 2014).

Today, the use of social media in political campaigning has become seemingly prevalent; it is valuable to examine how – if at all – it is changing the nature of election campaigning. In order to explore this topic in-depth, I have chosen one political campaign to analyze.  

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The Refugee Crisis in Canadian News Media

A closer look at how the refugee crisis has been represented in Canadian news reveals how powerful the media can be in the reporting of global crises.

Since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, millions of people in Syria and surrounding war zones have fled their homes. They have sought asylum in neighbouring countries, nations in Europe, and countries as far away as Australia and Brazil. This mass displacement of people to different parts of the world can be considered not only a refugee crisis, but a global crisis.

A global crisis occurs when internationally legitimate humanitarian, political or military intervention is needed to resolve it (Shaw 1996). However, it can be asserted that crises today are principally defined and dramatized in and through media and communications (Pantti et al. 2012) and “it is mainly through media reports that the world perceives international crises” (Joye 2009: 3). Therefore, when analyzing global crises, it is crucial to look at how they are reported in the media.

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