Mexican students that organized massive protests against the country's biggest broadcaster earlier this month may not have seen their favored candidate win, but they did spotlight how online media can seize the political agenda in a country with little media competition.
Using the Twitter hashtag #YoSoy132, these students created YouTube videos and used social media to rally against what they saw as the potential return of an autocratic, corrupt regime that controlled the country for much of the 20th century. Mexican bloggers and political web sites emerged in opposition to Enrique Pena Nieto, the presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI.
The heated controversy over the election turned into the perfect launchpad for new online media outlets like Animal Politico, Sinembargo.com and ADN Politico. Even my own global video journalism company, Storyhunter, took advantage of the absence of diverse media coverage in the country to produce several web documentaries on the movement for Yahoo Mexico.
The massive marches and online buzz inspired young students from universities across the country to become active in the political process (although #yosoy132 so-called spokespeople say the movement has no leaders nor political affiliation). One of our video journalists in Mexico City documented in the video below one of the most eloquent of these activists, Antonio Atollini from ITAM university.
Further inciting the students outrage with the media was a report by the Guardian (UK) that published internal documents showing payment to Televisa from the PRI party for favorable election coverage.
The #YoSoy132, or #IAm132, movement began as a Twitter hashtag, almost by chance. Rodrigo Serrano and 130 schoolmates at the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City, created a Youtube video denouncing accusations that they were thugs and paid-off cheerleaders after protesting a presidential debate at their school on May 11. Serrano's video now has over 1 million views on YouTube and students from other schools began pronouncing their support for the 131 students on Twitter. Another one of our producers focused on Rodrigo's story in the video below.
Many of the students we interviewed explained that Nieto winning is a function of most Mexicans not having access to the Internet.
But as more and more people in Mexico get their news from online outlets and student protests tarnish the credibility of traditional broadcasters, the value of Televisa's stronghold on TV airwaves may begin to depreciate. With more options emerging to get news on the internet and broadband access projected to expand across the world (although not as fast as these students would hope), the future is on their side.
Follow Alexander Ragir on Twitter: www.twitter.com/storyhunter