Popular websites turn off to encourage voter registration

Between 5-8 PM today, Australian youth media VICE, Broadsheet, PEDESTRIAN.TV, Junkee & FBi Radio will combine in a massive registration drive around the government’s postal plebiscite and marriage equality.

During the three hour window, VICE and FBi Radio will blackout their sites, blocking access to their content and running a simple message urging readers to spend their time registering and/or checking their voting details instead of with their content.

PEDESTRIAN.TV and Junkee readers who click through to the sites will be met with blacked out ad units and full-screen, over-the-top placements, again directing them to the AEC.

All content uploaded during the three hour period will relate to LGBTQIA issues. Broadsheet will run a takeover across its five city websites directing readers to the AEC before all pages. The VICE blackout will not include its overseas channels, blocking its Australian page (and content) only.

The five media outlets will also dedicate their influential social platforms (with a combined Facebook follower count of over a million) to the support of the message, flooding timeline feeds and creating an unmissable moment for young Australians. Profile avatars across the channels will be uniformly updated, with the publishers driving conversation around the issue with shared, bespoke content.

Maddison Connaughton, the Features Editor at VICE Australia said this was the first time the publishers had collaborated one a single issue.

“This is the first time Australia’s youth publishers have all banded together for the one issue. We think this marriage equality vote is that important. We know the vote has been purposefully designed to disenfranchise young people.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people under 30 who aren’t enrolled to vote, and many more who don’t have a permanent address, or are travelling, or are overseas. But we don’t accept that as the end of the story.

“These young people can make or break this marriage equality postal survey. So our goal with this blackout is to get every young person in Australia signed up to vote.” Connaughton said.

Nick Shelton, the publisher of Broadsheet said his company was proud to be a supporter of marriage equality.

“We feel privileged to be in a position to support something we passionately believe in. Marriage is something all Australians should be able to share equally, and this week is an opportunity to support and celebrate that.”

The campaign will be supported by youth mental health organisation headspace, Perth’s RTRFM, The Ethics Centre, and Amnesty International Australia.

The popular media sites are not alone in highlighting the need for younger voters to make sure they are enrolled. Foxtel’s MTV music channel will go off air for 123 hours on Thursday.

From 6am to 6pm the channel will show a message encouraging people to update their details on the Australian Electoral Commission website and their online services will focus on LGBTI content.

Simon Bates, the head of MTV Asia Pacific, said shutting down their broadcast was important because young people deserve to have their say on marriage equality.

“As a leading youth entertainment brand that supports inclusiveness and equal rights for all Australians, MTV wants to encourage young Australians to get out and do their part in ensuring their voices are heard in the Australian Marriage Law postal vote,” Bates said.

Australians, young and old, have until midnight on Thursday 24 August to register or update their voting details.

OIP Staff

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