... the establishment got a kicking

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... the establishment got a kicking

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Why Atlas Director, Charlie Napier, chose this moment...

All seemed normal in the world in early 2015, Obama was struggling as he neared the end of his presidency, desperately casting around for a real legacy. Meanwhile his heir presumptive, a former First Lady no less, was readying herself to make history as the first US female President, with only a trash talking property billionaire likely to provide fleeting resistance.

In the UK, the Coalition was also nearing its end. There was growing expectation that a soft left Labour party could win power over a centrist Tory party, both led by Oxford educated establishment white men. The only seeming fly in the ointment being a vocal and effective rump of politicians wanting to leave the EU. They forced Prime Minister Cameron to promise an EU Referendum if he won the election, which most commentators (and quite possibly he himself) didn't think would happen. Across the channel, French President Hollande was also nearing his political end. His poor poll ratings indicating the increasing likelihood of being succeeded, by further establishment white males.

And then things began to change...

At first, a small surprise. The Tories win the 2015 General Election (the first of a sequence of wrong predictions by the pollsters) and UKIP get 4 million votes. Together this triggers a referendum to leave the EU. With Cameron's decision to hold a quick referendum and negotiate a deal before the Referendum which both he and the EU thought would be enough to win the vote, a bit of concern started to grow. 

Then momentum took hold. Against the odds the UK votes to leave the EU, a huge shock leading to a new PM and government. Aside from the obvious cause of people wanting to leave the EU, it is clear that there is something else going on here. The people are flexing their muscles and telling the Establishment, we are fed up with you and your useless institutions that do nothing for us but enrich those already at the top. We are fed up with getting nothing for something and we want rulers who care about us and our country.

Then across the pond, an even bigger surprise, establishment Hillary is beaten, and beaten pretty well, by Donald 'Make America great again' Trump. He may be a wealthy man who sups with the establishment, but he campaigns as an outsider who wants to shake them up (or "drain the swamp" as he colourfully puts it). He promises the people he wants to kick the ass of the Washington and Wall Street elites and he sets out to do just. Although the Establishment bites back as various reforms are thwarted within his first 100 days.

Back in the UK, we have another General Election and another shock. From an over-confidence inducing poll lead, Prime Minister May is very nearly beaten by the Labour Party, led by Jeremy 'for the many not the few' Corbyn. Again, he comes to the election promising a change to the established order with a people-pleasing manifesto of promises and giveaways. UK voters are enthused, especially the young, and more under-25's than for many generations turn out to vote, almost exclusively for the cult of JC. It is thought his message, of supporting the common man against the elites, resonates well and his fire has not diminished yet.

Finally, the Macron magic hits Europe. Once again against all the odds, someone with fleeting experience of power comes from nowhere, creates a political party within a year recruiting a phalanx of even less experienced election candidates and wins a national election. His final round opponent, despite not having mainstream political views, inherited the Le Penn family legacy and electoral history, making her the alternative establishment. 

So the last two years delivered a series of blows and a seriously bloody nose for the political establishment. Cracks are already appearing in the new orders in France and the US, but the tectonic plates have undoubtedly shifted. It will be fascinating to watch as these unlikely figures try to live up to the strong expectations of the people who voted for them with the decisions they have to make now.

 

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... Raqqa was liberated

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... Raqqa was liberated

Caroline Hurndall Raqqa liberation

The city of Raqqa, Syria, was liberated by Syrian troops backed by US, UK and other Coalition forces.  Following the liberation of Mosul, Iraq, earlier in the year, this marked the beginning of the end of the so-called caliphate declared by Daesh just over three years ago.

The battle to liberate Raqqa took 130 days, leaving 80% of buildings badly damaged and over 270,000 Syrians displaced. Since then the UK has contributed £10million for humanitarian assistance and some Raqqawis are starting to return to their homes.

Caroline Hurndall MBE, Head of Iran-Iraq Dept. Foreign and Commonwealth Office 

Caroline Hurndall MBE, Head of Iran-Iraq Dept. Foreign and Commonwealth Office 

Why Caroline chose this moment...

“The liberation of Raqqa was critical moment in the fight against Daesh.  But now we must sustain focus, commitment and determination in the next phase – helping communities in Iraq and Syria rebuild and establish inclusive local governance.  These next few months will test whether we have learnt the lessons of past interventions.”

 

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... AI got chatty

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... AI got chatty

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Artificial intelligence has the potential to simplify, accelerate, and improve many aspects of our lives. But there’s more (or less) to these moments than met the eye. Computers processing massive quantities of data can extract patterns at a rate exponentially faster than humans. The potential is both exciting and scary.

Scientists and tech luminaries, including Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Steve Wozniak have warned AI could lead to tragic unforeseen consequences. You may vividly remember WOPR from WarGames, Skynet from Terminator or VIKI from irobot, but Alexa and Siri aren’t coming to get you just yet. Although, they may be after your job.

 
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Why Vanessa chose this moment... 

“The potential impact of automation and, eventually, AI in our workplaces is huge, but what set this moment alight was fear, pop cultural references and limited fact checking. It’s a lesson in how dense research, earnestly published, can go viral months later, sparking serious discussion and amusing memes about the impending AI apocalypse.”

 

 

The scale of the moment... 

The 'facebook shuts down rogue AI bots' story was shared millions of times, from hundreds of different publishers’ perspectives, around the world. Although not quite fake news, it is a reminder that 6 in 10 users regularly share links on social media they haven’t actually read.

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...cricket came home

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...cricket came home

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Official portrait by Chris McAndrew

Official portrait by Chris McAndrew

This country has traditionally focused on the sporting achievements of its male participants. This moment highlighted a change. It catapulted women’s sport to the top of the agenda. For cricket enthusiasts this contest will live long in the memory. The game had everything; drama, a close finish and cracking cricket. It was also a significant shift in the status of women’s sport. 

Sporting stereotypes are common place across the industry; stereotypes about women not belonging in the sporting arena; about the qualities of their games being inferior to male only contests. This moment challenged those stereotypes.

Why Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP chose this moment...

“Having long been an avid cricket fan, it was a heart-warming moment when the women's team inched a dramatic victory. Newspapers and broadcasters alike gave it prominence on front pages and bulletins. It marked a fine summer for women's sport and long may the progress continue at international level.” 

 

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... Andy Murray called out #everydaysexism

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... Andy Murray called out #everydaysexism

Andy Murray everyday sexism

Sam [Querrey] is the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009," asserted a tennis writer at Wimbledon this year in a press conference with Querrey's defeated quarter-final opponent, Andy Murray. “Male player,” the Scot interjected. He won praise aplenty across social and editorial media for his correction.

Why Sam Burne James chose this moment...

"Andy Murray - the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years, unless of course you consider women people - provided an unpretentious reminder of the prevalence of casual sexism. That felt poignant in the era of Trump; even more so now given the social issues being discussed following the Weinstein scandal."

 

Sam Burne James is the News Editor of PR Week

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... Grenfell exposed social injustice

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... Grenfell exposed social injustice

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Grenfell Tower laid bare the disconnect between the so-called ‘elites’ and ordinary people. From local councillors all the way to senior ministers, the policies that led to the fire and the response were inadequate, with charities and local volunteers left to step into the vacuum.

It is not only the politicians who were revealed as out-of-touch, but the media too. Jon Snow, the Channel 4 News presenter, in his MacTaggart lecture said “we, the media, are comfortably with the elite, with little awareness, contact, or connection with those not of the elite.” As media becomes centralised, and local papers close down, the voices of oppressed communities are lost with them.

 
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Why ATLAs RESEARCHER, Ollie PHELAN, chose this moment...

“Grenfell Tower thrust into the limelight an uncomfortable truth: that poor people’s concerns are too often marginalised in modern society. For the media, politicians and society in general, it is a shockwave that should force us to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable members of our country are not ignored on this scale again.”

 

 

The scale of the moment

  • £8.6 million: cost of installing the new cladding, which is believed to have contributed to the speed at which the fire spread.
  • £2,000,000 – average price of properties in the borough.
  • £123,000 – average salary in the borough.
  • £32,700 – the median salary in the borough, the largest gap in the UK.
  • 10% - Grenfell Tower was in the bottom 10% of poorest areas in England.
  • 151 – homes destroyed in the tower and surrounding area.
  • 8 months before the fire that residents wrote a blog warning that only a serious fire would prompt safety changes that had been demanded for years.

 

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... Corbyn caused electoral shock

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... Corbyn caused electoral shock

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Why Anushka Asthana chose this moment...

The exit poll showed the Tories as the largest single party, but with no overall majority. Theresa May had squandered her party’s high hopes. A Labour surge across the country forced a reappraisal of its Leader within the ‘Westminster village’ and changed the fault lines of British politics.

Far from being unelectable; un-spun, jam-making, allotment-loving, old school socialist, Jeremy Corbyn defied expectations and struck a chord with the voters. With (M)omentum behind him and the Conservatives running scared of another election, he looked for the first time like a potential Prime Minister.

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... women's equality was threatened

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... women's equality was threatened

Women's Equality Party

The daily reality of being a female politician is gradually dawning on the rest of society. From the apparently mundane, relentless trolling of Jess Phillips, Anna Soubry, Jo Swinson, Joanna Cherry, Stella Creasy and the disproportionately extreme treatment of Diane Abbott, to death threats against Nimco Ali and the murder of Jo Cox. It's ugly. 

To step up and speak out is to attract intimidation and abuse that far outweighs anything experienced by male peers. Regardless of party loyalty and gender this should concern us all. It prevents diversity in our parliament, in public policy debates and in the media. It feeds off underlying, pervasive and persistent levels of violence against women and girls who are not in the limelight. The two are connected by the same desire to control and silence.  

 
Leader of the Women's Equality Party, Sophie Walker with FGM campaigner and WEP candidate, Nimco Ali.

Leader of the Women's Equality Party, Sophie Walker with FGM campaigner and WEP candidate, Nimco Ali.

Why did Sophie chose this moment?

"Our challenge is to overcome the abuse of female and feminist politicians, attempts to silence us through fear, and the perpetual framing of women as primarily victims. Once the story was over, our day to day work on equality for Britain's poorest and most disenfranchised people slid to the bottom of the media's priorities once again. So, we fight on.”

 

The scale of the moment...

In the six months leading up to the last general election, more than 25,000 abusive tweets were sent to women MPs (2.85% out of 900,223 total tweets in a study by Amnesty international)

In the six weeks prior to 8 June, Diane Abbott received almost half (45%) of all abusive tweets against women MPs. Not only did she top the list of MPs for most abusive tweets but she received 10 times more abuse than any other woman MP.

 

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... wind powered past coal

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... wind powered past coal

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Why Hugh chose this moment...

“I could have chosen the moment in September 2017 when offshore wind costs dropped by 50% in just two and a half years. Or when onshore wind became the cheapest source of new power bar none. Or the moment In December 2016 when I witnessed the opening of Siemens’ state-of-the-art offshore wind blade factory creating a thousand jobs at Green Port Hull in Yorkshire. Innovative, large-scale manufacturing for the UK’s offshore wind industry is a key part of our modern industrial strategy.

But I chose landmark statistics showing the UK’s onshore and offshore wind farms generated more electricity than coal-fired power stations for the first time ever over an entire calendar year in 2016. This encapsulates a fundamental change that the UK and the rest of the world is going through, as we move for the previous Industrial Revolution to a new one. The speed with which renewables have risen, increasingly becoming the backbone of more and more countries’ modern electricity systems, is one of the greatest transformations of our era. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in supporting the UK’s renewable energy sector for almost a decade, and I can’t imagine working anywhere else now. I consider myself lucky to be leading the team at RenewableUK making the case for wind and marine energy, and I’m hugely proud that the industries we represent are creating fresh opportunities around the country in their ever-expanding supply chains”.  

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... Prince Harry defended Meghan Markle

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... Prince Harry defended Meghan Markle

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HRH Prince Harry issued a statement in defence of his girlfriend, Meghan Markle. It condemned the wave of abuse and harassment both public and private - on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.

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Why Afua chose this moment...

“Too often subtle, insidious racism is disguised as something else, making it harder to call out. The dog-whistle language used about Meghan Markle was exactly that. By denouncing it as racially loaded, Harry spoke powerfully about the need to stand up to prejudice. He showed abuse is not something to bear shamefully, but to identify and condemn. An unprecedented stance for a senior royal! And a very, very welcome one.”

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... misogyny TRUMPed feminism

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... misogyny TRUMPed feminism

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Official portrait by Chris McAndrew 

Official portrait by Chris McAndrew 

Donald Trump called women “fat pigs” and “dogs” and just a month before the election was recorded bragging about making uninvited sexual advances. Yet his promise, to Make America Great Again, triumphed over the hopes of those who voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton, to be first female US president.

Why Sir Vince Cable MP chose this moment... 

Politicians and voters of the centre need to unite to fight against extremism and inequality in all their forms, from racism and sexism, to populists blaming “others” for a lack of social mobility. This US president is volatile, dangerous and an apologist for religious and racial hatred, we cannot cosy up and condone his divisiveness.

 

The scale of the moment...

On 21 January, after Trump took office, the Washington March drew 500,000 people, and 1.4m viewers via facebook live. Worldwide 673 marches took place, on all seven continents, with participation estimated at five million.

Arguably, the election of a president whom many view as misogynistic and backward-thinking has sparked a wholesale resurgence of feminism. His defeat of the first woman who might have been president - coupled with his incendiary comments about women and his divisive policies on reproductive rights and other issues - lit a fire under a movement that had failed to excite younger generations of women who benefited from the battles of the last century and saw no need to keep fighting. Inadvertently and singlehandedly, Trump has galvanized women like no president before him.

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... Brownlee brotherly love triumphed

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... Brownlee brotherly love triumphed

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Official portrait by Chris McAndrew

Official portrait by Chris McAndrew

Why Brandon Lewis MP chose this moment...

In a dramatic end to the World Triathlon Series in Cozumel, Mexico, a dazed Jonny Brownlee was helped over the line by his elder brother Alistair. Jonny was a few hundred metres from the finish when he began to stagger. Coming from behind, Alistair stopped to support him.

Who could fail to be inspired by this heroic display of sportsmanship? Watching Jonny near to collapse and Alistair giving up his chance of winning the race, taking hold of him, running alongside and pushing his brother across the finishing line was amazing. It inspired me to get back out there and continue to push myself in triathlons.

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... GB women won hockey gold

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... GB women won hockey gold

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Why Sir Matt chose this moment...

Have you heard the one about a hockey match pushing back the BBC 10 o clock news?

Sound unlikely? But this happened on August 19th 2016 when the Great Britain women’s hockey team defeated defending champions Netherlands to win Gold at the Rio Olympics in a nail-biting penalty shootout.

The Gold Medal was Great Britain’s first in the history of the women’s team and came 28 years after the men’s team took gold at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and the first in history for the women’s team. The Gold Medal was also achieved against extraordinarily good opponents!

The Netherlands were ranked number one in the world, had won 21 games on the spin and had won successive gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. They had won their last seven games against Great Britain in the Olympics.

A pulsating game where Great Britain begun as underdogs, saw Great Britain take the lead, before the Netherlands hit back to lead 2-1. Great Britain then equalised, only for the Netherlands to re-take the lead with eight minutes to go. However, in a late twist, Great Britain struck back with minutes to go, to level the game at 3-3, and take the Olympic Final to penalties.

The penalty shoot-out was as dramatic as the match that had preceded it. Successful penalties from Helen Richardson-Walsh and Hollie Webb were intertwined with penalty saves from goalkeeper Maddie Hinch resulting in a 2-0 penalty shoot-out victory.

Hollie Webb’s decisive penalty coupled with the sheer release of joy from the team and managerial staff was a moment none watching will ever forget!

This victory captured the hearts and minds of the British population. Hockey was propelled onto the front and back pages of the newspapers. New role-models and heroes were created and Great British women hockey players became household names, with hockey becoming the talk of the town.

This was a team who showed resilience, heart, ability, courage and togetherness. Furthermore, a team the public could relate to and be proud of. And, this was a team that embodied the true meaning of togetherness, all skills that resonate far beyond the world of sport.

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... PokemonGo created a worldwide craze

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... PokemonGo created a worldwide craze

The Nintendo name was thrust back into the spotlight as augmented reality went mainstream with the launch of PokémonGo. The spectacle of Millennials congregating in random places looking blankly into their phones became a common sight over the summer. But like all good crazes it fizzled out after a while.

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Why Gemma chose this moment...

“Does PokémonGo matter in a world where we seem to be teetering on the brink of nuclear war from one day to the next? Probably not, but it did bring a sprinkling of fun to the very strange year that was 2016 and showed how augmented reality could gain mass appeal.”

Gemma Charles is Deputy Editor of Campaign Magazine

The scale of the moment...

In seven days, PokémonGo had more users than Twitter in the US, peaking at 45 million daily users. One year on it still has 65 million monthly active players.  

 

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... Brexiteers faced the consequences

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... Brexiteers faced the consequences

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Why Tom Newton Dunn chose this moment...

“Boris Johnson and Michael Gove gave a press conference from Vote Leave's HQ, on the morning of June 24; 10am, two hours after Prime Minister David Cameron gave his resignation statement.

I have never seen two senior politicians who had just won a nationwide vote against all expectations look so dumbfounded and ashen-faced. In that moment, it became brilliantly clear that they neither expected to win the referendum, nor had any plan at all for when they did.

My God, I thought, we're in for chaos. So it proved.

Within a week, they had destroyed each other's Tory leadership hopes, and 18 months on the country is still far from clear what type of Brexit it wants or how it will achieve it.

 

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... the Panama Papers leaked

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... the Panama Papers leaked

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The Panama Papers incident saw the leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared them with a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC. The documents show the myriad ways in which the rich exploit secretive offshore tax regimes

The story had a global impact, not only in media terms - with the story winning the Pulitzer Prize earlier this year - but also politically. Iceland’s prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, resigned and demonstrations were held in Argentina. 

In China, censors blocked the words “Panama Papers” and in Russia, Putin’s oldest friend, the cellist Sergei Roldugin, had about $2bn flowing into a network of British Virgin Islands companies. The founders of the Panamanian law firm, Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, were arrested in February 2017.

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Why Atlas Consultant, Ed Gavaghan, chose this moment...

The Panama Papers revealed the extent to which offshore tax havens are used by the top 1% to evade national and international tax regimes. Over 143 politicians, including Vladimir Putin and David Cameron, and 214,500 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions were found to have used these services.

The significance of the Papers and the timing of their publication cannot be underestimated. The leak crystallised and embedded a growing disconnect between a global elite and a disenfranchised underclass.

 

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... Beyoncé got political

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... Beyoncé got political

The poignancy of Beyoncé's political statement is that, only once she reached the stature she has, did she dare to deviate from softer, politically agnostic music. It is perhaps the first time a black woman has not had to fear damaging her career, already safely acknowledged as one of 'the greats'. As a result, she was bold enough to harshly express her experiences and those of the women around her, bringing them to everyone's attention.

Lemonade reminds you that there are still sections of society who are underrepresented and treated unequally. It shouldn't take fame to highlight this. Many people reacted to Beyoncé's message of black pride as if it was an attack on white pride. They're failing to see the underlying message. Beyoncé's visual album hopefully began a conversation among those open-minded enough to listen.

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Why Emma chose this moment...

"It is hard to always understand another section of society's struggles, as most knowledge is learned from experience.

I think it's amazing that one album could draw so much attention to the experience of and societal attitudes towards black women."

 

The scale of the moment...

In the 48hrs following the release of the Lemonade album, there were 4.1 million tweets about Beyoncé and Lemonade, including over 2 million tweets which included a lemon emoji.

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... crowdsourcing chose Boaty McBoatface

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... crowdsourcing chose Boaty McBoatface

Boaty McBoatface
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Why Atlas Director, Vanessa Pine, chose this moment...

In April 2016, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) discovered the wisdom of crowds is not always reliable as the #nameourship poll suggested Boaty McBoatface. The name was later given to the auto-submarine that now operates from RSS David Attenborough, the newly more “appropriately” christened £200m arctic research ship.

This is a cautionary tale for any PR person suggesting crowdsourcing user generated content for their campaigns. NERC got more than they bargained for as did walkers and National Lottery recently.

 

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... online overtook print

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... online overtook print

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In the months and years before the Independent shut up shop, it was clear the industry was struggling, with The Guardian and Telegraph announcing a number of redundancies. However, the Independent was the first print newspaper to go under and the magnitude of the event was felt across the industry.

With the sale of The Independent’s sister publication, i paper – which was launched in 2010 - to Johnston Press, a clear message was sent to fellow print media that, to succeed they would need to change. So, it was a shock when The New Day launched - but was much less of one when it shut down just two months later due to poor sales!

The Independent online currently boasts more than 4 million daily unique browsers and has a strong social media presence. This is a stark contrast to its June 2015 readership which was just below 58,000 – 85% down from its 1990 peak. Based on these numbers, it would seem going digital only, was a move made for the better, so perhaps more publications will make the leap.

The industry is struggling to keep up with an increasingly digital world, and remains true almost two years later. In October this year, Glamour magazine announced it would become a ‘digital first’ publication, and would only produce two print ‘collector's editions’ each year. Time will tell how successful this move will be, but it’s likely it won’t be the last publication to make the move.

 
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Why Sarah chose this moment...

“The media industry is having to fight an uphill battle, and it’s interesting to see how the different outlets choose to fight it. The Independent made a bold decision and it worked out for the best, but the Trinity Mirror missed the mark. So perhaps others should follow in the footsteps of the Independent?”

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