[T]here’s no such thing as a neutral story. But there is such a thing as an honest story. An honest story is one that makes a good-faith effort to be forthright about the circumstances of its own creation.
#SunshineBloc is a Twitter hashtag Team Oaktown Live (as far as we can tell) coined for our fellow livestreamers/citizen journalists on Twitter.
The Sunshine Bloc is an affinity group for Occupiers, CJs, and anyone who values transparency and accountability. We believe that just as “Sunshine Laws” are aimed at government transparency, and just as Sunshine is a natural disinfectant, cameras documenting important public events are a good thing for us as a people and as citizens.
Some argue that videos, particularly livestreaming, can be used against protesters by the authorities. That if we film protester misconduct, including acts of vandalism or even assault, that we are “doing the cops’ jobs for them”. Only police misconduct should be filmed, never protester misconduct.
When it comes to political activities in the public square, Sunshine Bloc believes in
filming it all, as it happens in public making journalistic decisions that err on the side of truth and transparency. (*see below for a dissection of how this works in the field). While not everything that CAN be filmed is newsworthy/of public interest, someone wanting public activities not to be documented doesn’t automatically mean that those public activites are not newsworthy/of public interest.
Many of us favor livestreaming because the images are harder to challenge on the basis of editing, nor can they be confiscated by the police. And WHEN police abuse happens, Sunshine Bloc absolutely films that.
The act of pointing the camera (or not) is always a choice, and embracing transparency does not absolve one from the responsibility for the journalistic choices one makes. What it does do is form the foundation for approaching documenting as truthfully as possible what’s happening that is newsworthy and of public interest.
If you plan to break the law at public political events, either getting arrested is already part of your nonviolent campaign plan and you very much want the media to document it, or you’re responsible for protecting your own identity while you do it.
Because if property damage or assault are part of your political expression, Sunshine Bloc feels that should be shown as well.
Accountability is about taking responsibility for one’s actions after the fact. TOL accepts accountability for what we document/broadcast.
Transparency is about saying This is what we will do and how we will do it going forward. It is laying out the standards one expects to abide by and be held to.
Both are important. But Transparency more so. Not only for political movements like Occupy, but for our politics in general.
We came up with the term Sunshine Bloc after some twitter discussions about livestreamers and the “Black Bloc” veered towards people suggesting “White Bloc” as the streamer alternative.
A: TOL lives in Oakland. “White Bloc” just ain’t gonna fly in this town.
B: “White Bloc” sets itself up in opposition to the “Black Bloc”. It’s automatically adversarial. “Sunshine Bloc”, otoh, is in favor of truth, transparency, and justice. It is it’s own orientation, defined not by what it is against, but by what it is in favor of.
So often the lack of transparency is what allows the powerful and wealthy to get away with being abusive at the expense of the rest of us. We also, as members of the global Occupy movement, believe that Transparency is our best path to gaining greater popular support to resist corporatist & government abuse.
Currently on the TOL reading shelf are The Elements of Journalism and Blur: How To Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload, both by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel.
Team Oaktown Live is always interested in feedback on the subject of transparency, ethics of citizen journalism, Sunshine Bloc, and how people think we’re doing with relation to them. Please leave a comment on one of our posts, or emails us at TeamOaktownLive@Gmail.com
-*Super Secret Camp 2: The War on Tents Continues on the subject of Sunshine Bloc, ethics of livestreaming, & “media blackouts”.
Note on social stream bannings: TOL is generally against banning people from participating in the social stream. More discussion is better, and opposing/contentious views are welcome to be expressed.
AND… we require that participants maintain civility and basic manners while doing so. Personal insults/attacks, ad hominems, or abusive language directed at fellow participants (or at either member of TOL) will be squelched with extreme prejudice because TOL believes that not to do so degrades the quality of discussion and drives away people who might otherwise contribute to the discussion. Vigorous discussion is encouraged; incivility and inter-personal hostility is not.
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