What’s Up with Oakland?

Of all the “Occupy” protests, Oakland keeps popping up with video footage that makes it look like some distopian movie (or at least like a different country).

The Washington Post recently defended their choice to publish a picture of a cop petting a kitten instead of a picture of the demonstration after it turned violent. Carol McKay, the Post’s photo editor, claimed that photos of the confrontation had not arrived at the time when the article was printed, even though news of the violent protest had arrived and was included in the article. McKay said she chose the kitten photo in particular because it showed a “moment” in time, and not just a cop walking around trash cans or other debris left behind after the protest.

However, choosing to use this “moment” as the main photograph for the story, combined with the title of the article, “Protesters Wearing Out Their Welcome Nationwide,” sends the message that the protesters are a negative force in this country while the police are ultimately positive, kitten-loving keepers of the peace. There is no way to call this choice of photo unbiased or fair.

This is not to say that the Washington Post doesn’t have plenty of photos showing the violence between protesters and police that occurred- they do, but it was irresponsible for them to choose this particular photo to accompany the article, especially being such a widely read newspaper.

The “Occupy” protests have also shown the dark side of media and the police more than anything in the United States in recent memory. There was the video of the man in Nashville being arrested, even though he stated at least three times that he was a member of the media.

Now there is this video, again from Occupy Oakland:

You can hear the man asking if it is okay for him to be video taping the long line of policemen. It is obvious that he is not partaking in any sort of violent or outrageous activity, he is merely video taping when, without warning, he is shot with a rubber bullet. The lack of build-up to the cameraman being shot is wildly unsettling. He no doubt thought that what he was doing was a safe activity, and repeatedly asked for permission to be doing so. This man was not causing trouble, he was documenting what was happening at the protest, which is the job of a journalist. With the definition of who is and who is not a journalist changing, and citizen journalism on the rise, the actions of the policeman that shot the journalist are cause for concern.

Right now, in media classes, journalism students like myself are being taught to document, that it is good to be able to upload history from a video camera, or your smartphone, to the internet. The power of Youtube has ramifications; this is not debatable. The sad thing is, this sort of police behavior has been going on for decades and does not appear as though it is going to stop, but the police forces should be trained to deal with citizens who want to document their history, to share what is going on in their own world with the internet, because not only will that not stop, but it will continue to grow as new technology continues to emerge and become more affordable for the general public.


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