Occupy Wall Street made it all the way to Sheffield, England over the weekend when Tim Pool — the online videographer who became a phenomenon the night Occupy was first evicted from Zuccotti Park, attracting more than 250,000 unique visitors to his live stream throughout the course of the day — dropped by the city’s Doc/Fest for a session titled, “Occupy Wall Street: Live Steam This!”
Using a smart phone with a taped sign reading “livestream,” Pool streamed unfiltered, unedited footage to the global public, making them privy to what was really going on down in lower Manhattan. His coverage was syndicated by outlets such as NBC and Reuters during his time spent with the movement, and he’s since been named one of Time‘s People Who Mattered in 2011.
In a candid coversation moderated by Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, Pool recounted his experience spent with OWS and dished on how to be a successful live streamer.
What He Considers Himself
“I consider myself an activist, but I’m never a protestor. Protests have their place, but I’d rather spend my time formalizing a plan, and taking action.
Why He Took Action
“Thinking? I wasn’t. At the time I was filming my own skate footage for my own sake, using my phone. I wanted to see what was happening. I knew if I stayed at home and watched on the news, I wouldn’t know what was happening.
“The only defense you have against police violence is to film it and share it so people are aware of what’s happening. I figured it they target me and tried to destroy my footage, joke’s on them because that’s film has already aired.”
He Has Nothing Against Mainstream News
“I don’t blame the news for not covering it. Within my second day there, ABC news was just sitting alongside the road. This middle-aged guy started yelling how the mainstream media wasn’t covering the rising up. It depends on what you think is a story. My thing isn’t to pass judgment. My stance is to communicate and understand. So I asked the journalist if there was a media blackout. They just told me there is nothing to tell.
“News outlets need to consider having their reporters on the ground for the story. What I think is appropriate is to come down, meet some of the people, get their stories and be able to share that. What we get too much of now is that journalists will walk down, look around, and not actually get in depth and see what it was about.”
How Many Bathroom Breaks He Took During His 21 Hour Marathon That Brought Him Fame
“There was one bathroom break.”
He Made Enemies With the Protestors
“In the very beginning it was a spoken rule: if anyone does any act of vandalism/violence, take their pictures and share it with the internet. I was being as neutral as I can be, but I was still a target. It was easy to take issue.”
The One Time He Stopped Filming
“The one reason I ever turned my camera away was because it was a rape victim telling me what happened. When it comes to medical situations, I will never cross the Red Cross. The part of me that’s still involved and still human — I can’t keep documenting as soon as the medic says please don’t. ”
He’s Embarrassed Looking Back
“I’ve developed better ways to film in high-definition. When I look back at these clips, all I can think is, they’re so old.”
Don’t Call Him a Citizen Journalist
“I’ve resisted the tag ‘citizen journalist’ — that’s not what I am. I think the other live streamers were part of a collective. I hear that term all the time, and I don’t use it because of the way technology is moving. Everybody can do it. What I’m trying to put into the language is ‘social media journalism.’ I wasn’t the first, but I’m one of the more well-known. It’s not just using live steam, it’s using everything. It’s just another tool in the utility belt.”
He’s Not Rich
“The ‘go to’ for most media is sponsorship/advertising. The first thing I said was if you like what I do, consider donating. It’s never mandatory. On the biggest day, the 17th, I actually brought in $17,000 from donations. It doesn’t happen all the time. I’m actually running out of money. [The donations] pay my rent, but I have to supplement it.
“I’ve been offered rev sharing — I think that speaks for society as whole. We’re moving towards this gift economy. People are looking to companies like Kickstarer and IndieGogo. I’m not broadcasting for donations. The donations can help when I am doing it. I’m not going to be able to raise a family on this.”
Safety Matters to Him
“I do research on everything before I go so I can have an understanding of the context. With that research comes safety. For me, I’m more interested in being lightweight. When it comes to exit strategy I always have an exit if not many. If you’re shoved out, you can stand at the periphery and shoot people as they are exiting. My advice to everybody — know where the exit is.”
“I’m working on an Internet and social media startup, which seems to be exploding. We’ve raised some money. I really think this project is going to change the world.”
For director Kevin Breslin’s alternative view on the Occupy movement, SnagFilms is offering is offering free viewing of “While We Watch,” HERE. Alternatively you can watch it below: