Monday, November 21, 2011

Everyone, Everywhere, All The Time

Recently, there was an internal discussion at #OWS that we should all wear press badges from now on. If the police make no distinction between journalists and protesters anyway, why not?  From the beginning we have been our own media when the corporate press either smeared us or blacked us out (whichever they felt was more effective at the time).

The corporate press has been inadvertently training the American public to seek out other forms of journalism because it has been obvious to most that they have not been doing their job.  The American public is desperate to hear about the issues OWS is talking about; in fact, it is one of the main reasons for the movement's success. If the public can't find it on NPR or CNN or NBC, they'll learn to find it elsewhere. (Just like they sought out Al-Jazeera English for coverage of the Arab Spring.)

I ran into the one-and-only Tim Pool, of "the other 99", yesterday at the 24-hour drum circle OWS staged in front of Bloomberg's residence. Tim's done groundbreaking work covering OWS and has become a go-to source for serious followers of the movement.  I was attempting to livestream for the first time myself and I found myself standing next to his very bright light a couple of times when he gave me a bit of a dirty look for stealing his shot. (Sorry Tim! Just practicing!)  I did notice, though, that he was running the very same UStream app I was on my phone.  I was instantly struck by how easy, yet powerful this could be for an army of citizen journalists.

The Occupy Wall Street movement in a sense has become a new model for public service. Many people are drawn to the movement's ability to educate. There is a constant transfer of knowledge happening at OWS obvious to anyone who's spent time at Liberty Square. The movement's ability to engage young people should not be lost on educators. And like education, journalism is another public service that has been under attack for the past several decades.  In the face of a similar breakdown ( or is it attack?) of a public necessity, OWS is in a position to fill that void as well. It is a further extension of the concept of transferring knowledge from those who have it, to those who want it.

Ultimately, the power of this structure, like OWS overall, is a function of the size of the movement. That's why the movement has such momentum: the bigger it gets, the more power it yields. It's scalable in a way only horizontal structures can be.  When protesters become indistinguishable from the rest of the public, as we've seen in Times Square and in bank lobbies, the question shifts to "what exactly are you arresting people for?"  Making journalists indistinguishable from the general public would doubly frustrate the enemies of democracy.

I originally set up this site as a place for media commentary and analysis, which I still plan to offer. But I also plan to begin live streaming and blogging and performing other acts of citizen journalism here and I urge others out there to do the same.  The last thing our corporate plutocracy wants is for people to participate--in any civic function--and it's why there has been such a brutal police state backlash to the Occupy movement. So turn off your TV and take to the street.  It's time to learn. It's time to educate. It's time to report. Everyone can do it.

You, too, can make us one person stronger.

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