Sharena Revolucija Nesho (Translated Colorful Revolution Nesho)

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 Sharena Revolucija Nesho (Translated Colorful Revolution Nesho)

This proposal is about how media in North Macedonia was used to fuel mass protests in 2015 and 2016. It intends to justify a study on how media is used as a political tool by the two major parties in North Macedonia and mobilize the citizenry through its inciting, partisan, and selective reporting. It also suggests that the political power of the two political parties in the country is closely contested such that the parties demonstrate their supremacy even when they have formed governments that are ridden with corruption and scandals. To this end, this draft provides the genesis of the civil unrest by identifying the triggers that induced the 2015 and 2016 events. At the center of the political acrimony expressed by the North Macedonians is the conduct of the two protagonists, the country’s former president turned prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, and the current president, Gjorgji Ivanov. First, Nikola Gruevski’s party and government were accused of eavesdropping on private conversations of government officials, politicians and government, causing the 2015 unrest. Second, President Gjorgji Ivanov was accused of pardoning Nikola Gruevski, then a prime minister, for corruption and abuse of office charges, triggering the 2016 protests. The proposal suggests that these protests were reported selectively or not at all by mainstream media, while social media was used to mobilize the protests and spread misinformation. The proposal has also suggested that the opposition towards the conduct of the law enforcers in the country in their regular conduct and as they quelled the protests in both incidences, also triggered the unrests, particularly when they are alleged to have caused the demise of youngsters, because of their overhanded responses and brutality.

Altogether, this first draft provides a pertinent background of the events that led to the proposal about the influence of media on civil unrests and political power struggles in North Macedonia. This background paints a vivid picture that can be used to make a research case, as presented in the first draft. Nonetheless, the next draft needs to demonstrate with evidence the partisan reporting of mass media outlets, such as newspapers and television stations, and their control by the conflicting political parties to advance their causes and power claims, while maligning their opponents. This draft does not provide much detail on which media house is allegedly controlled by which political party; and doing so would embolden the proposal’s thesis. Similarly, the next draft should include more evidence of actual social media clarion calls and conversations that helped mobilize the citizenry in support of their different political parties and against their political opponents. Perhaps interviews with social media users would shed more light on how they were mobilized to support either side of the antagonistic political parties. However, such interviews should protect the identity of the participants because of the hostile environment in the country. In addition, the proposal can be improved by citing other similar events in different countries that have been triggered by political misconduct of politicians and governments and where the media has played a critical role in spreading messages and mobilizing masses to participate in open protests for or against their governments. Evidence from the United States and countries in North Africa and the Middle East would provide pertinent parallels that can be used to embolden this proposal. Specifically, police brutality induced protests in the United States and the Arab Spring are widely studied and therefore available in peer-reviewed journals that could enrich the sources used in this draft.

How Does the Media Impact Unconscious Thought, In Particular Vote Preference, During Elections in the United States?

This proposal intends to study media is used intentionally to influence the voting choices of the undecided electorate in the United States. This study is motivated by the intensive media activities during the campaign period before elections, unlike any other time outside the election season. The justification of the proposed study is that the proliferation of advertisements over mainstream media and social media campaigns during the election season is not in vain but actually succeeds in influencing the voting decision of the undecided voters feeling ambivalent about the choices of the political candidates on offer, or those often regarded to centralists because they do not lean towards the Democrat or Republican persuasion. The proposal hypothesizes that the media appeals to the voters’ subconscious minds without the voters’ awareness and that the campaigners use this gimmick expertly to influence the voting choices of individuals without them realizing that they are making influenced selections.

To support its proposals, the draft includes evidence from previous presidential elections in which the role of mass and social media has been used extensively during the presidential election campaigns. The 2008 and 2016 elections are used as examples to exemplify how the large numbers of undecided voters faced with ambivalence were nudged to make certain selection choices that delivered the elections to Presidents Obama and Trump. The proposal is that media use a combination of misinformation, advertising, and political prejudice to make subtle appeals to the subconscious mind, influencing the voting choices of numerous undecided Americans. The proposal also suggests that of the three levels of advertisements found in political campaigns, including awareness raising, direct targeting, and Trojan horse, the Trojan horse kind of advertising is most used for subconscious persuasion. Consequently, the proposal suggests that the approaches commonly used in commercial advertising apply in political campaigning. Using the marketing strategies used by product promoters, the proposal explains the stages of buying decision-making made by consumers after encountering an advertisement, and how each type of advert influences the buying decision. The conclusion arrived at in the proposal indicates that advertisements appeal to the unconscious mind without the awareness of the buyer and are the most influential when the buyers are confronted with unfamiliar products. In the same vein, the same persuasion strategy is employed by campaigners when the electorate is faced with ambiguous or unfamiliar selections at the ballot.   

This draft is well structured because it outlines the pertinent questions the proposed study will answer early in its structure. It also justifies the selected questions from the phenomenon experienced previously in presidential campaigns in the United States, where media was used extensively during the presidential campaigns when two unusual and largely unfamiliar presidential candidates were presented to the electorate. The use of sources to justify the background information is commendable because it authenticates the purpose of the study. Similarly, the proposal builds its study case gradually and logically, with the methodology, notably the variables to be studied, being elucidated succinctly. Interestingly, the proposal draws parallels between presidential campaigns and product advertisements to explain how the subtle appeals to the subconscious mind are critical for influencing decisions among undecided individuals. While this draft has done a sterling job at setting the stage for the proposed study, it can be enriched by including specific evidence of television advertisements and social media messages that were used during presidential campaigns to demonstrate their persuasion strategies aimed at appealing to the subconscious mind. In addition, the methodology of the proposed study should be elaborated further by identifying the study approach, sample to be used, and the like.

Cancel Culture as a Form of Popular Censorship

This proposal seeks to justify ‘cancel culture’ as a form of media censorship in democratic settings. It notes that democratic settings differ from autocratic ones because of the level of media freedoms, with the authoritarian settings allowing less media freedom than the democratic ones. The proposal reasons that authoritarian regimes can easily clamp down on media and censor its content without consultation or deliberation. However, such approaches are not afforded to democratic regimes, where media freedom is guaranteed and is a hallmark of democracy itself. However, the proposal hypothesizes that civil society takes up the role of governments in censoring media in democracies. Therefore, the proposal draws parallels between authoritarian regimes and civil society in controlling the messages from the media to the public. However, it explains the uniqueness of civil society in media censorship by noting that it is guided by political correctness standards set by the media houses or the public. In turn, the public decides what is palatable and what is not based on the political correctness standards set in society and industry. The media industry and public selection of appropriate and acceptable messages are christened ‘cancel culture’, which is synonymous with the message propagated by the media being cancelled, thus rejected by the media fraternity in its self-regulation, and by the public, as a form of public censorship. However, to bring out the differences between the two types of censorship or the two different circumstances in which media censorship occurs, the draft questions what censorship is and provides examples of countries and regimes renowned for their strict media restrictions. It also poses questions about the nature of cancel culture as a phenomenon found in democratic settings.

This proposal sets the stage for conducting a study by identifying the pertinent issue of interest to be investigated. Although the research question is not succinctly spelt out, it is implied in the draft, which suggests that cancel culture could be taken as a form of media censorship akin to that undertaken by governments in authoritarian regimes.  The draft also gives a justification that raises the curiosity about how media content is controlled in democratic settings by explaining what cancel culture is. However, this proposal is underdeveloped to a large extent and can be significantly improved when certain information is included and arranged systematically, considering that this draft appears to be a presentation of thoughts placed in bullet points. In this regard, the proposal can be improved by drawing from the background of media censorship in the suggested countries, using evidence found from credible sources. Notably, this draft has not included any sources to support the assertions made. Similarly, the proposal should clarify the research questions and provide a methodology for pursuing the answers to those questions. The research questions would give the proposal a study direction and help bind the information together. This would considerably improve the coherence of the proposal, which is lacking in the draft. In addition, the setting in which the study would be conducted should be included so that the source of data is justified.

This draft identifies the issues requiring further inquiry, although they are not well developed yet. Much work should go into organizing the thoughts presented in the draft into a proposal format with the identified research question, justification, and methodology.

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