Tracking local news: a case study
I passed a burning Bolt Bus this morning. I wanted to learn more about it, so I trolled some local news sites.
Then some hyperlocal news sites.
Then The Internetz, via various search engines.
Twitter? Came through after a fashion: people passing it, like me, on the NJ Turnpike. Some had cameras to match their rubber necks. (HT to LilianeHaub)
Someone also tweeted from another Bolt Bus that whose driver commented on the fire to them.
But no word from people on the bus, or involved with the event; and no actual coverage.
It’s locally newsworthy;
Are there any alternatives to find out more?
Alternatives that focus on certain subgenres?
If you really can’t find any information online, writing down your own interest and what information you’ve gathered is a poor second option. That at least gives others interested in the same topic a place to talk about it.
Wall Street protests swell, close Brooklyn Bridge for two hours
Occupy Wall Street, a protest calling for “human rights over corporate rights“, and stating that “the 99% are fed up with the greed and corruption of the 1%”, has been in force for three weeks now. After drawing roughly 1000 people in its first week, well under expectations, last weekend police around Union Square used tear gas on a group of female protestors – during the process of arresting 80 people. The use of such force has led to a surge of coverage, support, and participation. The movement has since built momentum, and today
400 700 people were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, after they took over one side of the bridge, to the supportive honking and waving of many drivers.
Coverage of these protests has been slim until today. The protests are loosely organized, and the organizers such a they are did not have particularly strong cnonections to independent or mainstream media reporters. Some suggest that mainstream media had reasons to bury the story. Others suggest the lack of an obvious message and target for the protest made it hard to grasp what was going on. There have been no clear spokespeople for the protest, actual marches have been chaotic and much smaller than projected, and the only places occupied were parks and other public spaces, limiting the notability of the effort.
But all that has changed in the past two days. Earlier this week, a movement web site was set up, including a blog, calendar of events, press contacts, and a donation link – which goes (controversially) to movement supporter AFCJ. They area also publishing minutse of all meetings of the movement General Assembly, which is the governing mechanism for movement-wide decisions. Yesterday the protest (“the movement”) published its first official statement, coming out of a general assembly. In it they promised three related statements to come – listing demands, principles, and guidelines for starting your own local occupation.
Today, they took over Brooklyn Bridge, something of a first, and the 700 ensuing arrests is the largest police response to a protest in a very long time. The last time something similar happened in DC, it ended in a successful class lawsuit.
Community reporters have also been honing their work and getting picked up in Intenet memes and in mainstream media reposts. For instance, Wikipedia shutterbug David Shankbone snapped a popular photo of the protestor vibe on Thursday.
This weekend, the total crowd was up to 6000 protestors – and other smaller protests (like an anti-rape protest elsewhere in NYC) have started to claim affiliation or at least kinship with OWS. Mid-afternoon, the main protest unexpectedly moved towards the Brooklyn Bridge, and observers reported a mile-long line march of protestors.
Hundreds made it onto the bridge and occupied the car lanes in one direction, before being split from the rest of the crowd by police. (The bulk of the crowd then moved to Liberty Plaza.) They shut down traffic for at least two hours. The police were not prepared for this, nor were the mainstream city media. It took them a while to bring in paddy wagons and buses, to make hundreds of arrests, and to get more than trivial coverage of what was happening on the blogs of New York papers. Despite the ambient fears of excessive force, I had the impression that many police were not unsympathetic to the protestors — something reminiscent of the WTO protests over a decade ago.
Some good reads to get a feel for the march and protest:
- The NY Daily News had solid ongoing coverage, and recently reported there were a smaller number of protestors on the Manhattan Bridge as well.
- Army vet Ward Reilly has been curating messages and actions of support from US military personnel from all branches of the armed forces. After last weekend’s tear gas incident, groups have been attending the rallies to protect the protestors. A message that a group of 15 Marines said they were heading down to today’s NYC protests was picked up from him and spread as a rallying cry that the whole country was behind the protest. Similar shows of support and protection have been shown for smaller satellite rallies being planned or held in DC, Boston, LA, and other cities across the country.
- Evan Fleischer, representing from Boston, curated some of the best Twitter pics and comments on his blog. Via Newyorkist, who was on the scene:
- No attempt to prevent taking of bridge; no units to do so. #occupywallstreet. Matter of fact, one officer laughing at the absurdity…
- There was a surprising amount of honking, yelling and waving from vehicular traffic on BK Bridge as marchers marched…
- And Micah Sifry put this into context in a timely article this morning, just before the day’s protest got underway. (Micah: Encore!)
I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s coverage and followup, and to being back home in Boston soon.
It has been claimed that twitterpedia will one day replace Wikipedia, at the point where everyone needs no more than a tweet about any given topic.
FT2 astutely comments:
the predictable twitterpedia sequel follows:
- user#217869: pov warring!!
- @83476238 not so!
- @217869 is so!!
- @83476238 not so!
- @both: u blocked 24 hrs 3rr
- @admin plz no?
- @217869 o ok
- @admin kthxbai
- @83476238 u block I not u suxxor pov war!!!
- @admin u involved,, @arbcom plzdesysopkthx?
- @user no wai!!
A tip of the hat to all involved for scrying the essential parts of our post-singularity knowledge landscape.