Hashtag Dissent: How The #IdleNoMore Protests Took On Mainstream Media Narratives Through Twitter

26 November, 2013
5:30pm - 6:30pm

Associate Professor Alfred Hermida (Graduate School of Journalism, University of British Columbia).

 Media@Sydney Research Seminar.


A growing body of research points to how social media, and specifically Twitter, is emerging as a hybrid space for the cultural production of journalism, where citizens are involved in the flow, framing and interpretation of news. Studies into recent social movements such as Occupy Wall Street indicate how committed individuals are appropriating social media as one of the tools to articulate a counter narrative, and contest dismissive framing by mainstream media. These movements do not have specific, concise demands that can be easily explained by the media, but present an open-ended, unspecified meta-narrative where participants create their own meaning.

One such movement is Idle No More. This presentation will discuss how activists in Canada mobilised around the #Idlenomore hashtag and used Twitter to advance their message of dissent. What started as an Aboriginal protest in December 2012 developed into a loosely knit political movement. Twitter served as an alternative platform of public communication that facilitated the visibility of a marginalized social reality. This talk will discuss how engaged elites on Twitter shaped the message, often at odds with the narratives in mainstream media. The research provides insights into how engagement with networked technologies by people outside news organisations neutralise, challenge or reinforce the power of media institutions to construct social reality and how it reconfigures journalism’s role to foster a broadly informed and engaged public.


Professor Alfred Hermida is an award-winning British online news pioneer, digital media scholar and journalism educator. An Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, his research on the intersection of communication technologies, journalism and the networked society has been published in Journalism Studies, Journalism Practice and the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media. He is co-author of Participatory Journalism: Guarding Open Gates at Online Newspapers, (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), and is working on his new book, Tell Everyone: How the Stories We Share Shape What We Know and Why It Matters, due to be published by Doubleday Canada. Professor Hermida is a 16-year veteran of the BBC and was a founding news editor of the BBC News website in 1997.


Media@Sydney is presented by the Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney.

Location: New Law Annexe Seminar Room 346, New Law Building (F10)

Contact:Madeleine King

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