Archive | October 2013

Midterm Exam is a perfect example of a civic media outlet.  This is a website that takes action on civic issues through participatory media. Once getting onto the site, we immediately know what the website stands for, how many members take part in the movement worldwide, and even how to become part of it.  Not only do we immediately know how to sign up to be a member of the cause, but we also immediately know how to create our own cause through starting our own petition.

avaaz2                           avaaz5

With over 27 million members worldwide, an attribute to the large following could be ease of membership through low transaction costs.  It is not only free to join, but it also is a very simple process and does not take much thought or effort to become part of it.  In fact, I actually just signed up for the website myself and it took me approximately 2 minutes.  Right on the homepage under the amount of members, is a spot to enter your e-mail address, and once you do that, all you need to do is enter your name, country, and zip code and you are all signed up. There are no monetary and minimal cognitive transaction costs to become involved with this website. However even without membership, a person is able to read through the issues the website highlights to inform themselves on political matters around the world.

A particular circumstance that caught my attention was a story highlighted on the home page on a woman from Brazil, Ana Paula who felt she was unfairly imprisoned in Russia.  Avaaz explains her story, gives an option to sign the petition, and explains what signing the petition could accomplish.  There are statistics that show us how many people have already signed and from what countries, and how many total signatures is their goal, which gives her petition credibility.  This woman is your average citizen, that was simply just peacefully protesting the drilling of the arctic for oil.  She isn’t a popular political figure or celebrity, yet she was able to get get over 940,000 signatures so far, and the number keeps increasing as I’m typing up this midterm.  This website has given this woman an opportunity to have her story heard.

Avaaz displays disruptive characteristics of old traditional civic action organizations that are similar to that of MoveOn.  Like MoveOn, and unlike older traditional civic action organizations, Avaaz has a very easy membership process, and has a specific cause fundraising process.  It is free and it is simple to join.  Any money you may donate, or time you may spend for this organization is only on the specific topics that you choose.  Also like MoveOn, Avaaz may not neccesarily need your money, but would need your support.  In the case of Ana Paula, the woman who believes she is unfairly imprisoned, the only thing that Avaaz is asking from you is your support of signing a petition if you feel that it is a just cause, and you can do that at the click of a mouse.  What differs from MoveOn with Avaaz is the fact that Avaaz deals with political issues on an international scale. Avaaz bridges any gaps between countries with a very easy way to change the language of the site at the very top.


Avaaz is a great way to gain social capital through bridging ties. It not only gives you the opportunity to share your petition through their website and to their following, but also gives you a chance to share your petition, or any Avaaz petitions for that matter with your own following on your personal social media sites.  If you or anybody for that matter shares a petition on their own facebook or twitter site, it gives their followers and friends the opportunity to share it with their followers and friends. In order to even be able to start a petition through Avaaz you must give background information on the cause, the purpose, and why it is important to you.  This gives the petition at least some credibility to back up what you are petitioning for.


Overall, this website is a great example of participatory media used for civic change.  It has low transaction costs, boosts social capital through bridging ties, gives the opportunity for ordinary people to have their voice heard, and has great simplicity and usability for users worldwide with things such as the ease of changing the language of the website.


Research Project Formal Proposal

For my research project, I will be addressing the question “How has the increased access of digital media tools affected the criminal justice system?”  This involves digging into the new rising issue of citizens recording other citizen’s arrests, and following up with any consequences that follow all parties involved.  The rise of digital media has made it possible to record any person’s every given move.  Given that the basis of our society’s law and justice procedures were written before cell phones even existed there seems to be a hard adjustment to integrating what is and is not legal while also finding a balance as to what is and is not ethical in these recording processes. 

The current justice system has enough criticism from society as it is, and with police officers every move being caught on camera just opens up more opportunity for attack.  Ultimately the justice system serves to provide us with a society that is as safe and fair as possible, and if the police officials use media outlets to their advantage, then a perfect balance of fear and respect can be gained throughout society.  However rare cases of police officers behaving, in not-so-respectable ways have encouraged others to record arrests for as much proof as possible.  In cases such as sexual assault by officers, being unnecessarily rough or situations in which it would be the citizens word against the officers word, having video evidence can be in favor of the citizen who is under arrest, which is what could inspire video recording.  

The website   is a great example on how citizens are utilizing participatory media in order to affect civic issues.  It is a website documenting what is believed to be the unfair treatment of those arrested for video recording another persons arrest, and any follow up details.  This website raises money to bring awareness to the issue, and opens the opportunity for those who feel that they have been treated unfairly to share their negative experience with recording a police officer.

Loopholes in the justice system, lapse of judgment, and irritating minor offenses such as parking tickets can bring on much frustration in regards to the face of our criminal justice system, our police force.  What a lot of the annoyed citizens do not realize is that more often than not police officers do positive things that saves lives.  They risk their own lives to protect ours, and it ultimately create the best possible living conditions for Americans as a whole. 

With all this being said hopefully I will be able to find any patterns that accompany the thought process behind recording arrests as well as the processes leading up to any legal consequences that follow. I will do this through reading court documents on trials, watching videos posted and will examine a variety of cases to the best of my ability to follow any patterns in how the court system has handled the situations to come to any conclusion on how the criminal justice system has been affected/how they are handling the rise in access to social media tools.





Reynolds, Glenn H., and John A. Steakley. “A Due Process Right to Record the Police.” The University of Tennessee Knoxvill, College of Law Legal Research Paper Series (2012): n. pag. Web. <;.

This source is a research paper that examines our Constitutional rights to record the police. Also briefly covers the various laws that came about from particular court cases on the matter.


Dina Mishra, “Undermining Excessive Privacy for Police: Citizen Tape Recording to Check Police Officers’ Power”

The Yale Law Journal , Vol. 117, No. 7 (May, 2008), pp. 1549-1558

Published by: The Yale Law Journal Company, Inc.

Article Stable URL:


Explains reasons why the recording of the police is necessary/important, and explores our rights to do so through various court cases.


Potere, Michael, Who Will Watch the Watchers?: Citizens Recording Police Conduct (May 3, 2012). Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 106, 2012. Available at SSRN:

An in-depth analysis on the evolution of the rising issue of recording police officers and examines various cases.


Steven Chermak, Alexander Weiss

Maintaining legitimacy using external communication strategies: An analysis of police-media relations

Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 33, Issue 5, September–October 2005, Pages 501–512


An analysis on the importance for the police force to keep positive relationships with media outlets such as newspapers and television, accompanied by statistics on how the media affects our judicial system.

Jefferis, Eric S., Robert J. Kaminski, Stephen Holmes, and Dena E. Hanley. “The Effect of a Videotaped Arrest on Public Perceptions of Police Use of Force.” Journal of Criminal Justice 25.5 (1997): 381-95. Web.

Published over 10 years ago, gives incite on how the fascination with recording police activity came to be, along with how cases were handled back then.


Dowler, Kenneth, and Valerie Zawilski. “Public Perceptions of Police Misconduct and Discrimination: Examining the Impact of Media Consuption.” Journal of Criminal Justice 35 (2007): 193-203. Web.


Explores the favorable and unfavorable viewpoints various media outlets portray the criminal justice system.