Journo Solidarity: Beyond Building a Personal Empire – For A Bit More Context
By, Bryan Westfall
Ustream: ustream.tv/user/bobsterrrob Twitter: @bobsterrrob
Back in November 2011, I got off BART at Embarcadero, and within minutes started filming my first OccupySF march. Within 5 minutes a man I only knew of from his twitter handle (@punkboyinsf) ran up to me (smartphone in hand) and said “THANK YOU for being here!” as he hugged me…then sped off back into filming the march himself. (The photo above is myself [@bobsterrrob - middle], @punkboyinsf [right], and @mikedelic [left] just before the march to 888 Turk on April 1st 2012 – Taken by @tigerbeat – his flickr is full of wonder)
That was my first taste of the wonderful solidarity among journalists (citizen, indie etc.) in the Bay Area.
Today I was reminded of this ideal (through not so ideal circumstances), and was reminded that it should go well beyond just the idea of ‘good networking’. I was never comfortable with or good at networking, which was a big issue for me while living in Los Angeles, pursuing an acting career. Networking there was people with an agenda. I hate having an agenda. I want to just be helpful and make buds with people. Everyone there wanted to build an empire…with a few exceptions sprinkled about that you had to work very hard to find, and when you did they were likely to be just as defensive and twitchy as you after being exposed to the same rivers of selfish agendas. However, even the positive networking you could have under those circumstances falls short of the idea of solidarity I speak of.
Solidarity (and here I speak of the journalistic variety, as this is what I know) is firstly personal, and is compelled to defer to the benefit of others. It goes beyond networking because it must. The work we do in these circles is up against something violent, self serving, and relentless…not to mention very very well funded. It does not want us to do this work. It wants to operate in a vacuum, and MSM has done a great job of allowing it to do so. To do better we need each other in a way that must be personal in a way no version of simple ‘networking’ could ever be.
I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a wonderful solidarity with many journalists from all around the Bay Area and beyond (my ‘beyond’ mainly consists of @jcstearns, and some of the many who have traveled here from beyond, but I look forward to connecting with more of you!). For those in it to build an empire, I wish you well. But there is something greater that I encourage you to experience…and you are most welcome (I know of one man who’d *stream* right up and hug you for just showing up). For those who already know what I’m talking about, thank you so much for having my back. I will do everything I can to do the same.
PS. If we’re ever at the same action and you’re low on energy, I almost always have some taurine stashed away in my backpack. It’s all yours if you need it.