12 October 2011

#OccupyDameStreet - Thoughts on Encountering the Media

Evening General Assembly
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Tuesday 11th October
Despite the siren's call of what I believe was a major sporting event across town this evening, tonight's General Assembly was one of the best attended thus far. It is clear that awareness of the Camp and the #OccupyDameStreet movement in the general populace has been raised somewhat by the steady stream of media visitors over the last twenty-four hours and I have been surprised by how even-handed or outrightly positive some of the media reports have been.

Despite sharing more information in my posts than most people are comfortable reading, throughout these four days I have shied away from talking directly to reporters, not because I have something to hide or fear that they will twist my words, sadly no such malicious intent is needed for I am perfectly capable of generating a linguistic car crash all on my very own. Yesterday morning a very nice reporter from IrishTimes.com came over to ask if I would say a few words on camera, but no sooner had she switched on the microphone than from out of the hidden depths somewhere near where my gall bladder once lay there spewed forth an incomprehensible torrent of nonsense that started with "organic and leaderless" and ended with "hurrrungh-capitalism-bad", only less coherent. She literally backed away slowly.

Evening General Assembly
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Tuesday 11th October
Today's encounter with Newstalk was even less enriching as I was called over to present an exotic back-story for the origin of our tent, donated to the camp on Saturday night but occupied by someone else who was in the process of being interviewed. "So I hear this tent has a story behind it?" I was asked, "Um, its a tent, "I replied, "for sleeping. But I don't, sleep in it I mean, someone else does, I have a bed, not here but somewhere else, its also for sleep, hurrrungh-capitalism-bad". Unfortunately the reporter was trapped by a guy-rope and couldn't back away, he just leaned in closer and made a point of catching the sound of the tent zip moving up and down a few times on his sound-recorder, up and down, up and down, slowly up and down until I took the hint and moved away myself. Unkie Dave, officially less interesting than a zipper. I should have lied and said I was conceived in it, in a castle, on the moon, but these are the things you always think of after the fact.

I mention my own media disasters to highlight the amazing job that everyone else is doing under much more demanding circumstances. If you've turned on morning radio over the last two days you probably will have heard an interview or two from the Camp; nobody here has media training and many of the folks interviewed have never been to a demonstration before, let alone found themselves camping out for three nights on a busy city thoroughfare and suddenly being asked to voice the concerns of an entire movement. I watched a recording of tonight's RTE Nine O'Clock News and subsequent Prime Time report on the arrival of the Trokia representatives to Dublin today in which footage of the camp was added for a little colour, and I was mightily impressed with how the interviewees came across. I found my head nodding in agreement while cursing their coherence.

Evening General Assembly
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Tuesday 11th October
The reports coming in from sister occupations across the US tell a tale of media blackouts or negative manipulation of the story by the press, of Fox News reporters wandering up and down Wall Street doing gotcha Vox Pops, trying to find the one 'eccentric' person who will rant and foam and froth with angry ignorance, tarring an entire movement with the inanities of single individual. Here, however, we have seen none of these tactics and thus far relations with the media, as with the Gardai, have been impressively positive, with reports being fair if not particularly extensive or comprehensive. It could just be that they have tried to find 'eccentric' people to interview, and failed, for I certainly haven't encountered anyone that 'eccentric', but then I am reminded of the adage that if you can't tell who the 'eccentric' person in the group is, its you.


I am now living in fear of picking up the Sindo and finding splashed across the cover, "hurrrungh-capitalism-bad".

At least I hope they spell my name right.

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