gun control

Engagement Through Emotion on Social Media

Social media was flooded with posts following President Barak Obama’s announcement of an executive order on gun control Tuesday morning. Rather than the posts being littered with information about the proposed laws, the conversations focused on Obama’s demeanor during his speech. Most posts contained a short video clip of the President wiping away tears as he spoke of the victims of mass shootings.

obama fb post

An image of a social media post shared Tuesday on MSN’s Facebook page

The most captivating thing about these reports was that the executive order played second fiddle to the President’s emotional moment. Our Commander-in-Chief, the embodiment of strength and power, displaying vulnerability took the lead while the proposed laws were buried in the copy. This structure indicates it was considered information of lesser importance. Information that could or could not be included depending on the space and time available to deliver the report. The five W’s (who, what, when, why, where), a fundamental of journalism, did not refer to guns or executive orders. The five W’s instead emphasized that the President of the United States cried on Tuesday during a speech about murdered first graders.

Social media is about connection and engagement. Therefore, social journalism should not only educate and inform, but invoke sentiment of some kind. This video humanized a world leader and made this government action something that could be related to by many. It was reported that many people in the audience cried right along with the President, including comedian, Amy Schumer, who has actively supported stronger gun laws since a mass shooting at a movie theater showing her film, Trainwreck, last summer. Likewise, the video audience could also share in this experience and connect with the content in a meaningful way.

President Barack Obama cries during speech on gun control

Multimedia content, such as this video, allows people to consume journalism in many different forms.  Videos are particularly shareable because they can tell a story in a fraction of the time it takes to read a written article.  Through video, viewers can experience an event firsthand rather than have it described to them.  While video is not a new concept, using social media as a delivery system to broadcast visual journalism, is rapidly evolving on a daily basis.

Check out this recent CBC interview on how social media videos changed the biggest news stories of 2015.