June 27, 2010

G20: Behind the Scenes of Grassroots Journalism

For those you outside of Canada who have no idea what's going on right now: The G20 Summit is taking place in Toronto with protestors from all walks of life filling the streets, along with local Torontonians, media outlets, and about 5000 Police Officers in armour. It is both awesome/scary.

Photo Credit: Daniel Villate 

As someone who works in the television industry, I have many friends and colleagues out there on the streets covering Toronto from all perspectives (both for news stations and independent film productions).

I have been sitting here for over two days taking it all in via Twitter, TV, and phone conversations with friends watching it all go down. What bothers me most is the amount of tourists and curious Toronto residents that are flocking to these burning cars etc with their cameras.

My photographer friend Brendan Meadows put it well in his caption for this photo that said: 
"1 idiot, 20 fools with cameras and 0 Progress"

I feel like in times of conflict or tragedy, everyone wants to be a goddamn journalist. There is nothing totally wrong with that (I'm a vlogger myself) and I feel civilian journalism is incredibly important...but there is a difference between capturing and offering productive commentary and just capturing it for the sake of saying 'you were there'.  If you are one of those people... were you there for the Cause? or just BEcause? More cameras only fuel the fire and make it difficult for police officers to sort through the crowds. Unfortunately the purpose of protests (warranted or not) was completely lost on the vast majority of bystanders this weekend.

There is something to be said for the people who were out there working for news stations/blogs/magazines for endless hours upon hours. Take CP24 and CBC for example who had reporters/tweeters all over Toronto interviewing civilians and doing what they do best; breaking news as it happens (BIG shout-out to CP24 for bringing Craig Kielburger on board as a special correspondent). Both stations also had people like Maurice and Kim monitoring the activity online and reporting live what people weren't seeing on TV.

I've noticed a lot of people complaining that the same images get shown over and over again (usually the most horrifying) but you have to understand that people tune into TV at different times and 're-capping' what happens should be expected. News production 101.

With that, I would like to share with you things you won't find on TV: (see more here)

This first one is by a young filmmaker who captures some very moving images including reporters from various newstations amongst the madness:

And the second is from a friend, P.J. who is also a video blogger. He hopped on his skateboard and checked out what was happening at different parts of the city. From the riots, to the peaceful protests, offering up hilarious yet intelligent commentary along the way.
But what I liked most about this video blog? PJ doesn't get too wrapped up in it and most importantly knows when to call it quits and head home. What he says and shows at the 6:10 mark is exactly what I'm trying to hit on:

At the end of day, it's difficult to understand what people are protesting. But there are many people out there doing it peacefully (see also Derek's photo album of the true faces of the G20):

As a resident of Toronto, I thank you and trust me when I say your voices are being heard :)

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