At the time of writing this post, Australia is fairly content with the size of its burgers, especially in the wake of portion control and the awareness of obesity rates. Such was not the case back in 2010 however, and one YouTuber would inadvertently set off a powder-keg of opinions and revelations.
People were more concerned about the staggering downsizing affecting a majority of food products on the Australian market, with the fast food industry standing as the main target for shaming. This focus by the populace was only intensified when Leo Henry uploaded the following video to his YouTube account leokimvideo.
The video went viral immediately after its upload on April 23rd 2010, and currently sits on 280,000 views. In less than 2 months of being uploaded to YouTube, the video was featured by Today Tonight on a report on the downsizing of fast food.
Mr Henry became the poster boy for proof that McDonald’s at least were cheating customers with secretly downsized products, although his original video makes no accusation against the McDonald’s Corporation, but rather presents facts and reconstructed footage in order to inform an audience and allow them to make their own educated conclusions on the matter.
The video’s publication on YouTube’s platform was paramount in ensuring that it was publicly available for people to view. Despite being experienced in the Australian and international film industries, Leo Henry had no connections or prior credibility in regards to journalism. His only option when investigating and publicising his work was to make it available on the internet, with YouTube the optimal video platform to choose, due to Mr Henry’s pre-existing following and the sites substantial general audience.
While he cannot be solely classified as a citizen journalist, there are many examples on Mr Henry’s channel of Citizen Journalism, defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “The collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the Internet” and it is inarguable that Leo Henry has contributed to this trend with his work. His BIG MAC Super Shrink Me video was the first comprehensive investigation into the size of Big Mac burgers made publicly available to inform the population and was the catalyst into further investigations by mainstream media. Consequently, he has continued to uploaded similar videos as recently as 3 weeks prior to the publication of this post.
The Concept of Citizen Journalism cannot be discussed without also discussing Media Convergence, which is defined by the Australian Government as The interlinking of computing and ICTs, communication networks, and media content that has occurred with the development and popularisation of the Internet, and the convergent products, services and activities that have emerged in the digital media space. This concept is at the heart of the video, and all of Leo Henry’s other investigative videos, and is vital in understanding why this video became so popular. Through the lens of Media Convergence we can understand that the video served not only as the catalyst to a wider investigation, but initiated and participated in a dialogue between the greater populace.