Thursday, September 29, 2011

#OccupyWallStreet: Hung up on Peripherals

I've been following the news surrounding the protest as closely as anyone, I suppose and I've noticed that most articles come in two distinct flavors. Not pro and con, but content vs. spectacle.

Even news coverage that appears to be in favor of what the protesters are doing gets lost in all the peripheral noise surrounding the movement. When I read a story about the movement, I don't want to hear media people talking about how other media people talked about the protesters. I'm not tuning in because I want to know what is happening with Yoga classes on site or how NYPD is going to handle investigations of violence towards the protesters. I'm sorry... I just don't care.

I'm turning to media because I'm interested in the content of what is going on. I want to know what sort of conversations these people are having with regard to changing the problems the country is facing. I want to hear the dialog that real people are having about how to make the world a better place.

Clever signs, freakish appearances, celebrity endorsements... those are the trappings of an entertaining diversion. It completely misses the point. America is fed up with the diversion. We don't want bread and circus. We are sick to death of "pretty and pointless" and tired of being given the bare minimum to survive. #OccupyWallStreet doesn't need a paparazzi contingent or a sartorial commentary. It doesn't advance the dialog we should be having about substantive issues... and yet a huge amount of "coverage" seems focused on that.

Here is a suggestion for all you media types out there: spend time with the people. Get to know them. find out what the real concerns they have as individuals are. Don't make sweeping generalizations based on spending 30 minutes wandering around the site. The most insightful information I've read has come from the men and women on the ground who are there because they believe its a step towards changing the process.

Journalism in this country is in sad shape. Most major outlets rely on plagiarism of press releases published by the very people the story is about or are ripped from a wire story and hacked until they reflect the view of the entity publishing them. Investigative journalism? Good luck.

So how about we stop describing the appearance of the protesters and start addressing their values. I want to know what happened to these men and women that put them in a position to be there. I want to know what aspects of the movement they agree with, and what they disagree with. There are factions present... what divides them and what unites them. Ask some real goddamn questions for a change, instead of looking for fluffy details about drum circles and masks.

These people didn't show up because they believed it was going to be the biggest party of the century. They showed up because they believe the system is broken and needs a good bunch of mechanics. Give me some insight into whether I should trust this group of people to put their hands on my government. Find out what their vision for America is, both individually and collectively. Stop giving me soundbites and hysterical commentary and INFORM me.

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