Media Strategy: Useful Insights from the 1960s
The next several years will mark the 50th anniversary of a myriad of historic events in America’s fight for civil rights, including the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. In this article, published on the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media blog, Michael Svoboda chronicles the insights climate advocates can gain from 1960s civil rights organizers. One of the organizers’ key strategies, Svoboda writes, was harnessing the media to package, present, and ultimately sell the movement’s ideas. Organizers used the fact that nearly 80 percent of Americans watched the same three network TV broadcasts to their advantage: they timed major events so they would be covered in the nightly news, designed protests to be visually and emotionally powerful, and incorporated media into every aspect of their planning.
While the media landscape today has changed significantly, climate advocates still can and should consider the role that media — both on- and off-line — can play in propagating and shaping how Americans think about and respond to climate solutions. For a thorough report on how one organization harnessed social media to shift the tide in its issue area, click here.
From Social Change to Climate Change: Lessons from the 1960s?
By Michael Svoboda, Contributor at the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media & Assistant Professor of Writing at The George Washington University
This year, the looks-back and looks-ahead that typically accompany the year-to-year transition left out an important ongoing story: the return of the 60s.
Americans have begun a decade of 50th anniversaries of momentous historical events. In 2013 Americans celebrated the anniversary of the March on Washington and remembered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Later this year, after observing the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the War on Poverty, Americans will observe the 50th anniversary of a related event: passage of the Civil Rights Act in July 1964.
Over the next several years, Americans will observe the 50th anniversaries of the assassination of Malcolm X, the Selma protests and march, the creation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the Watts riots, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy and the riots that occurred in their wakes, the Kent State shootings, the first Earth Day, the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Watergate Break-In and, two years later, the resignation of Richard Nixon.
In a time when the United States faces great challenges, including the need to act on climate change, the nation will reflect on one of the most turbulent decades in its history.
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