In the context of media activism media can be defined as a medium to communicate, interact and promulgate as well as to create meaning whereas activism is the ability to change or make history. Activism is the practice to strive for change from reactionary as well as progressive aims and ambitions. New media activism differs from traditional activism since being more reliant on technology and being more geographically dispersed.
Media activism is said to have risen from several social sources. Most commonly it is used by people in and around the media industries such as journalists and media workers. People who in their work rise awareness of exploitation, alienation and restrictions on public information rights. Other groups who sometimes tend to use media activism as a way to fight their goals are subordinate social groups whose lack of social, cultural, economic or political capital is equivalent in media’s representation and whose interests on occasion get them in conflict with the social order. Then there are people that on occasion mobilize around perceived threats that media may pose on values and believes. This group is more scattered and usually do not find communication policy and practices to be a social concern.
It is not only the people involved with the activism that differs but the strategies as well. Some groups use agendas to address the government for institutional reforms, some produce media or try to cultivate others, and some critique, monitor or intervene in effort to change media frames.
“Media activism: a compliment to other activism or another tool for development?”
It is argued that most often media activism is not the goal but a tool used to fight for other causes. Social movements can pursue their objectives without requiring media activism. The question then becomes if media activism should only be seen as a compliment to other activism or simply as another tool for development. However, social media is becoming more and more important, and is one of the best tools to use in order to spread information. But as Carroll and Hackett (2006) put it: “media activism thrives, and can only thrive, in conjunction with other democratic movements. As it thrives, it facilitates those movements”.