Underground news

Three days ago Jonathan MacDonald witnessed an altercation in the London Underground at the Holborn Station, between — as Jonathan reports it — a uniformed Underground staffer an elderly man whose arm had just been released from doors that had closed on it while he was leaving.  The staffer was loud and rude, while the passenger was calm and gentlemanly. Jonathan also recorded the last of the event on video — and blogged the event, video and all.

Next blog post:

Fast forward 24 hours and the story has run as the leader on Sky, BBC, LBC, ITN (see sample news coverage here) and on the front page of the Evening Standard. This followed thousands of Tweets and Re-Tweets (including the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, getting involved), 65,000 video views yesterday alone on YouTube and hundreds of comments on this and many other blogs. Plus, the guard has been suspended and is under investigation.

All I did was see something that shouldn’t be tolerated and used the ammunition we have in our hands – video/blogs/network.

I blog almost every day so this wasn’t any different. The content of this one seemed to grab attention though, and it was this attention that made things spiral. Hence, the main reason this story has flown is due to what happened on camera. We must remember that. It’s not me. I didn’t ‘invent the story’. I just blogged, like I do, and the Twitterverse powered the rest. Although charming to be the focus of the viral activity – I actually had the smallest part.

In that post Jonathan shows, with photos, how the story was played by the mainstream media. His summary:

The Twitterers, Bloggers and commentators were the only people who played this right. The stories were shared and eventually the press picked it up.

What we need is for Industry to learn the key techniques of Involvism that the Twitterers, Bloggers and commentators already implement.

So far there are seventy comments, including pros and cons about what Jonathan (jMac there) did, and his replies.

Most interesting to me about this are the stories being told, because those have always been the stock-in-trade of journalism, especially in newspapers. As I put it here,

The basic job of newspaper reporters is to write stories. In simplest terms, stories are interesting arrangements of facts. What makes stories interesting are: 1) protagonists (persons, groups, teams, “issues” or causes); 2) a struggle, problem or conflict of some sort; and 3) movement forward (hopefully, by not necessarily, toward a conclusion). Whether or not you agree with that formulation, what cannot be denied is the imperative.

Jonathan did his best as a witness. He also had a story to show and tell: the abuse of a passenger. That’s what he reported. As it happened, Jonathan caught the name (Ian) and the face of the Underground staffer, but only the back of the passenger (a man with gray hair in a business jacket carrying a leather bag). There are other stories to be told, of course. Read them in Jonathan’s comment thread

In the old media world, freedom of speech belonged to companies that bought ink by the barrel. In the new media world, it belongs to everybody with a cell phone or a keyboard. Get used to it. Or, as Jonathan did, put it to use.

Tags: , , , , ,


  1. Mike Warot’s avatar

    I’ve read quite a few of the comments, and there seems to be quite a bit of concern about the possibility of any one of us being tried in the press… which we all seem to know is very capable of slanting reality.

    Yet.. we don’t question that slant when it comes to reporting done by the corporate media?


  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Mike, everything has a slant.

    And what’s left of the corporate media?

    We need to read everything with some grains of salt. Alas.

  3. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    You can’t get tried in the press if you aren’t on video abusing your putative customers. This issue has come up in The Amazing Race with Jonathan (or Jonathug as we call him). He claims that he’s really quite kind and gentle and that the TAR producers made him look worse by only including the times that he blew up. Well … if you don’t blow up, they have no video to “misrepresent” you.

    We gun owners have a saying: an armed society is a polite society. Well, that’s still true even if people are only armed with a video camera.

  4. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Wonder if the bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms would want to add one more noun…

  5. Jonathan’s avatar

    The case study of this incident is now published here: http://www.jonathanmacdonald.com/?p=4330

    Many thanks to Doc for covering it originally. I presented the above to a room full of people in London yesterday and I think we are starting to get traction with companies realising that this isn’t some ‘fad’.

    Whether they will do anything is another question…and one I think we all know the immediate answer….

    Slow gears.

Comments are now closed.