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Media Pit Peril: En Medias Res

Media Pit Perils: En Media Res

By Joseph Wade

Rumors of buses of protesters from other cities; people bringing food; drums and acoustics; the occasional nudist: give us one final touch—a girl with a flower in her hair. We had to settle for Michael Moore on Monday Evening at the Occupy the Wall (OW) movement. The mass media had cordoned him off from the grass-roots groups to such a distance that most could not hear him speak.

Getting in the media pit was tougher than usual as more grass-roots media have made their way to the protests bringing more protesters with them.

As I sat in the rat’s nest—a corner of the media pit where the generator and extension cords tangle endlessly—the journalists, documentarians, photographers, and tech gurus chattered excitedly. From behind me Harrison Schultz, a 28 year old tech and protest supporter said, “It’s not Spain, we don’t have a revolution everyday,” as an excited 20 year old ran up and handed over two discs of video data to a guy who goes by FluxRostrum; he was sitting next to me, uploading video on the web for mobilebroadcastnews.com. The young man yelled, “Push that for me. Thanks man.” Then, he ran back into the crowd.

A few minutes later, the generator shut down, FluxRostrum’s hot spot died, and the video he was trying to upload for an hour was cut abruptly, forcing him to announce that he was leaving the protest to go load the Michael Moore video which was recently shot. Video uploads are the most time-sensitive of media—especially the recent Moore video—given that the video was just covered by roughly fifty video cameras, numerous photographers, and innumerous journalists; it would go viral in minutes.

Within minutes of hearing that a fellow independent journalist was being forced to leave due to power issues, the other media crew in the pit jumped to the rescue along with volunteer techs of the pit. The techs gave FluxRostrum a power pack for his mobile hotspot. The power pack died immediately, and he was forced to leave.

These are the constant struggles of independent media in the pit who work together through a hodgepodge network of shared hotspots, power sources, runners, drives, servers and other Star Wars gadgets.  For new or novice members of the media, this is journalism 101 to PHD, the all-inclusive program.

It seems that to be a modern day journalist, one must become adept at technology and remain current. The journalist who is the most mobile and can sustain that mobility the longest will succeed—it’s like the modern military. But the war for the press is waged against the ever growing tide of new technology.

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