How “Occupy Wall Street” Needs Indy Media

by Isabel Braverman

Channeling protestors of the 60’s, a large group of citizens has come together to protest greed and corruption in the U.S. government, calling their movement “Occupy Wall Street”.

The movement began on September 17 and was a call to arms by the magazine AdBusters. What started out as a protest in Union Square last weekend is spreading across the country and has now come to a head as protestors took over the Brooklyn Bridge. Watch a live feed of what is happening this very minute right here. You can watch as the video gains more and more viewers by the second.

The protestors had gained prior permission to occupy the bridge, but police have now disregarded that and have sanctioned off the bridge with nets, capturing and arresting the protestors, causing some to dangerously climb on the bridges wires. No word yet on how many people are there, but there seems to be a lot, somewhere in the high 100’s. They are chanting things like “Who’s street? Our street” and a 60’s favorite: “the people united will never be divided.”

But it’s not just the protestors who are taking a stand and making an impact. With a movement that questions the very institutions of government, of course many mainstream media outlets are not on board with covering it (in a full and accurate representation). So how will people across the world find out about this? Probably the very way I did— Facebook. Two people posted a link to the live stream and I watched it in bewilderment. How could I be sitting in my bedroom watching this? Feeling pride and anxiousness at the same time—happy that this is being covered and I can watch it from my bedroom, and yet a yearning to be there and an inadequacy that I’m not. Suddenly, the other things popping up on my Facebook news feed seemed so secondary, so unimportant.

So how can you make a difference if you can’t join those on the Brooklyn Bridge? The next best thing I can think of is what I’m doing right now- blogging about it. Isn’t the very point of journalism to give a voice to voiceless and change the way things are (the very thing the protestors are doing)?

However, the question is still lingering in the air with a somewhat sour smell- what does protesting accomplish? It’s just a group of people running away with their emotions and feeling the adrenaline rush, right? Not exactly. The point of protesting is to call attention to a problem that a large group of people see, in this case corporate greed. Calling out the government might not make the government change, but it will make them pay attention. So who does the government listen to? If not citizens, then the media. There is a chain reaction in our country—citizen->media->government.

Bringing me to media. With a protest against government institutions, of course mainstream media outlets aren’t going to cover it fully and accurately since they are funded by the very organizations they are protesting. This is where independent media and citizen journalism step in. Without corporate control of what they publish, independent media organizations can cover the protests thoroughly. The live feed I linked to earlier is from Global Revolution, a group of citizen journalists from around the world. In a little box on the screen of their live feed it says, “citizen media is not a crime”.

Other journalists are also taking a stand, like Arun Gupta and Jed Brandt of the Indypendent, who started the Occupied Wall Street Journal. They began a Kickstarter fundraiser on Thursday and received $12,000 within eight hours. People are now distributing the 50,000 copies at the protestors “headquarters” in Zuccuti Park.

Their four page journal is similar to “Common Sense” the pamphlet by Thomas Paine, a founder of independent and citizen journalism during the colonial time (yes it has been around that long). “Common Sense” reached one million people, and not only united them but helped them bring about change in their monarch-controlled and financially corrupt state. Hmmm, sounds familiar.

The only difference now is that we have the World Wide Web. We get information by the minute, especially from the secular protest on Twitter— #Occupy Wall Street. There was no #CommonSense then, but it is only common sense to have one now (excuse the bad pun).