The BBC recently announced that, after two series and an impenetrable cliffhanger, 50s Newsroom drama, The Hour, is to be axed. This news created waves amongst the fans of the show, which have rippled across the internet since, culminating in a series of campaigns, petitions, twitter tags and attention grabbing articles objecting to the decision and imploring the BBC to rethink. Seeing the fervent backlash (this example, in particular, resonates) led me to interesting questions about how the internet has been harnessed as a tool for pressure campaigning.
It is unlikely that The Hour will return; press reports from the BBC make it clear that the show will be replaced with new and upcoming dramas, but this has not deterred fans from expressing their support of the show in a multitude of ways. Tumblr, a sharing based micro-blogging site, provides the perfect backdrop for viral campaigning. As on Facebook, users like and reblog from their dashboards, but unlike Facebook, which focusses on social networking functions, Tumblr has become a centre of culture (TV fans, book fans, film fans unite!) and, most importantly, creativity. If something becomes a meme on Tumblr, it can be shared between tens of thousands of people at a few clicks; the potential of this for campaigning stretches beyond fandom, most notably having been employed by Barack Obama’s presidential committee.
Within minutes of the show’s cancellation, The Hour’s tumblr stream exploded with artworks, articles and outrage. Within a day the Save The Hour campaign started to go viral, linking Tumblr with the twitter tag (#SaveTheHour), a Facebook group of the same name and an online petition (now toting over 20,000 signatures and rising). The key to this was making the campaign accessible to fans: blog posts advertising the links to each of these things, sporting graphics that would not have looked out of place in a government propaganda campaign, and above all information about the campaign itself. This allowed fans who might not have been aware that they could write to the BBC the means to do exactly that, and become actively involved in the campaign.
It is no secret that any site with a member count as high as Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr quickly becomes a powerful force; instant access to others with the same, strong opinions on anything from political views to favourite TV shows provides the perfect backdrop for these ideas to snowball and for movements to come together. By spreading a campaign such as Save The Hour across multiple platforms, the fans have increased the campaigns exposure; furthermore - whether the BBC decide to commission another series or not - they have come in together a force of which I believe the show’s main character, the integrity-driven, news-hungry reporter Freddie Lyon, would have been proud.