Week of April 14-20


Maria Perez

Google Trends shows the popularity of the search term “Steve Stephens” within a day of Stevens posting a murder onto his Facebook account, April 16. As people watched the disturbing murder video and used the internet to find more information on Stephens, the popularity of his name as a search term quickly grew. The quick and widespread reach of this event shows how powerful the internet is when spreading information.


Know: After winning the St. Louis mayoral election, April 4, Lyda Krewson was sworn in, April 18.

Inform: Krewson, the first woman to hold this office, won the Democratic primary by just two percentage points (32 to 30 percent) against Tishaura Jones, March 15.  She then won the general election in a landslide (67 to 17 percent) against Andrew Jones, a Republican, April 4.

According to her campaign website, Krewson wants to focus on neighborhood safety, economic development, youth, and transportation as mayor. She has introduced plans to make progress in each of these categories.

Krewson has already picked Julian Bush, circuit court judge; to be her city councilor, Tim O’Connell, Board of Alderman clerk; to be her chief of staff and Koran Addo, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter; to be her spokesman.

Care: During Mayor Francis Slay’s tenure, St. Louis received a new Busch Stadium but lost a football team. The new stadium has drawn more baseball fans to downtown. The average game attendance increased from 37,634 in 2004 to 43,712 in 2014. The loss of the Rams not only let St. Louis with only two major professional sports teams, it also meant a loss of as high as $226 million in revenue for the city

During Slay’s tenure, St. Louis  saw an increase in low-income housing and a decrease in crime. However, St. Louis is still considered one of the most dangerous and racially-segregated cities in the country, which has contributed to perceived notions about the area.

Citizens of both St. Louis City and St. Louis County must wait to see if Krewson keeps her promises of neighborhood safety and economic development to try to improve on where Slay left off and improve the area’s reputation.


Know: After being the target of a nationwide search, Steve Stephens, who broadcasted a murder on social media, shot and killed himself in Erie, Pennsylvania, April 18.

Inform: Two facebook videos of Steve Stephens went viral on all social media platforms, April 16.

In the first video, Stephens shot and killed Robert Godwin Sr., a retired foundry worker who was walking around to collect aluminum cans in his plastic bag. The disturbing video was available for three hours before facebook disabled access to it.

In the second video, a live video, Stephens said he killed a total of 13 people. According to Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams, Godwin is the only known death from what Stephens called an “Easter Day slaughter.”

“This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson said to the Associated Press. “We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety.”

Cleveland Police issued an aggravated murder warrant for Stephens’ arrest and offered a $50,000 reward for finding him. While he was ordering a McNuggets meal from a McDonald’s in Erie County, Pennsylvania, April 18, workers identified him and stalled his order to call the police.

Care: These pages from Google Trends shows how the search terms “steve stephens” and “cleveland shooting video” trended within the first 24 hours of the story breaking online. It did not take long for either term to reach peak popularity.

Whether for negative reasons, like Godwin’s murder video going viral, or for positive reasons, like identifying characteristics of Stephens in hopes of finding him, this story is an example of how powerful the internet can be in spreading information.


Know: As many as 2.5 million votes could have been manipulated in a Turkish referendum, April 16.

Inform: The referendum, held, April 16, let voters decide on major constitutional changes.

The “Yes” votes overtook the “No” votes by a slim margin, 51 to 49 percent. By voting yes, Turkish voters approved of the following changes:

  • Turning the country into a presidential system
  • Giving the President a five-year term with a maximum of two terms
  • Shifting executor powers from the prime Minister and parliament to the president therefore eliminating the prime minister position
  • Shifting the power to publish decrees from the cabinet to the president
  • Giving the president the power to appoint ministers and vice presidents
  • Allowing presidents to affiliate themselves with a political party

A “no” vote deprived one person from having so much power and maintained the country’s democratic structure.

Aljazeera reported that Sezgin Tanrikulu, opposition party member and “no” campaign supporter, said, “There are many structural problems in Turkey.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been criticized for acting in an authoritarian manner, which inspired a failed military coup to try to unseat him, July 18, 2016.

The Council of Europe had already deemed the referendum to be unfair in favor of the “Yes” side. In Turkey, the government shut down media outlets and arrested journalists for covering the “no” side that opposed the sitting government.

Care: The United States government have checks and balances on all three branches of government. For example, the executive branch can veto laws approved by the legislative branch, the legislative branch can override vetoes made by the executive branch and the judicial branch can rule laws unconstitutional.

The results of the Turkish referendum gave so many new powers to the sitting president that the government now resembles an authoritarian regime.

The fall of any democratic government is a concern for all remaining democratic governments. A country with an authoritarian regime, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, concentrates power on a leader that is ”not constitutionally responsible to the people.”

If a country is not responsible to the people, then the people in it aren’t free. This is an example of why it’s important, with democracy in place, to hold this country’s government accountable for the well-being of its citizens.