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MEDIA FARM: JOURNACTIVISTS

Boston bore the brunt of two separate activist movements last week, but it’s the occupation of Dewey Square that has journalists very confused.

Occupy Boston, in case you hadn’t heard, is inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, and has set up in Boston’s financial district, complete with embedded journalists. Its chaotic grass roots nature had some journalists jumping in to help organize and to assist in their efforts to reach the media in general.

The most embedded of the local press is Steve Annear of Boston Metro who has been on the ground since the very first meet-ups regarding the Dewey Square occupation. Central to the coverage, like all revolutions these days, is the use of Twitter to disseminate information.

But when does dissemination become instigation?

Annear (@steveannear) has been careful to toe the line between reporting and endorsement. Typically, his tweets read “speaker says” or “someone says.” But occasionally he joins in the conversation. As in: “Medical is on some stuff but can’t do everything. They need more people w medical experience.” Or: “They need volunteers for people who can be here doing [sic] the weekday.”

The Boston Phoenix (@bostonphoenix) is in the same boat, coming through with the occasional retweet of the organizations actions. When @Occupy_Boston planned to march on Fox 25 News Monday morning, the Phoenix relayed the information without comment to their 18,000 followers. Dig Boston is not without fault either (@digboston), putting out the call to occupy Friday at 6pm.

Does this constitute an endorsement?

Does the relay of information from editors like Carly Carioli of the Phoenix or RT’s from my own David Day of the Dig pump up the fringe protest?

It’s a tricky question.

Naturally, the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe have kept out of the fray until the kindling started to burn. That’s when the Herald sent reporter Christine McConville over to Dewey Square with a tent and a sleeping bag on Sunday night. Needless to say, she regretted her embedding.

As I headed to my tent at 3 a.m., I noticed a number of homeless people had joined the camp. They looked delighted to have the new donated pillows and blankets, but they didn’t appear to support the strict no-drugs, no-alcohol policy.

Later, I was woken by the sound of a man hurling violently outside my tent. I remembered all that talk about the big-city rats.

The revolution stopped being much fun. I was never so glad to see dawn break over Southie.

Kevin Cullen, columnist for the Globe focused on two 40-year-old women who had take up the cause. “What’s going on in Dewey Square,” he writes, “is more complicated, more nuanced, than some would have you believe.”

The occupying movement is the natural counterpart to the Tea Party. It is populist. It is genuine. And it is not entirely focused. There is no one issue other than a consensus that something has gone terribly wrong with the country’s direction.

Certainly it was a question raised by journalists in the ‘60s, where the line was crossed between objectivity and activism. We at Media Farm are more fond of the time when “broadsheets” were obviously in one camp or another. Yet in our era of Twitter, dead privacy and insta-info, journalists can’t help but be on a side.

Or perhaps it’s that the so-called “99 percent” includes journalists. Occupy Boston pointed to this right from the get-go, quoting an official statement from a Boston’s police union. “The Boston Police Department are our friends and allies,” they said in their first post at occupyboston.com:

We think this statement about BPD pensions and wrongful media blame on officers instead of Wall Street where it belongs, put out by the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation (a BPD labor union), puts a lot of our feelings into words pretty perfectly. A quote:

“The blame for increased costs needs to lie with the Wall Street robber barons who invested our hard earned pension dollars in phony equities and securities which led to a world-wide economic meltdown.”

We are all cops now.

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BACK to all of the Dig’s #occupyboston coverage.

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3 Responses to MEDIA FARM: JOURNACTIVISTS

  1. hey whyd you take out the double huge photo of Steve Annear? I thought that was hilarious.

  2. DAVID DAY DAVID DAY says:

    Too much Steve for one blog.

  3. Pingback: #OCCUPYBOSTON NOW! | DigBoston