10:49am

Wed October 19, 2011
Media

The Informal Media Team Behind Occupy Wall Street

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 12:38 pm

Protesters are not only occupying Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park; they're also occupying Twitter and other social media sites like Livestream, where visitors to the site can watch live footage from the protests.

The Occupy Wall Street media headquarters is in the midst of the frenzy at Zuccotti Park. Under a giant pink umbrella, a small group of protesters hovers over laptops surrounded by mounds of equipment covered in blue tarps. A beaten-up cardboard sign rests at their feet, the word "media" written in magic marker.

"We have people that monitor social media such as Twitter and Facebook, people that monitor the news, people that live stream — that's a huge thing, actually, because that's how we get a lot of our news out to our followers," says Colin Laws, a 19-year-old from Connecticut.

A week ago, Laws was watching the streaming video of Zuccotti Park over the Internet on Livestream. And then after weeks of just watching the Global Revolution, as the Livestream channel is called, he sold his TV and all of his video games and bought a bus ticket to New York.

What really brought Laws out to protest, though, was Hero Vincent, a protester turned live stream broadcaster turned icon.

"Seeing Hero and all the other people on Livestream, it ended up having me come down to help out with media," Laws says.

An Unofficial Anchor

If the Livestream has news anchors, it seems Hero Vincent is it. Last Friday, right after the city announced it would not evacuate the protesters to clean the park, Vincent addressed the online followers on Livestream:

"We are at a beautiful moment right now. There's thousands of people out here as you can see. We're all standing in solidarity. I'm losing my voice again, unfortunately," he said.

But news anchor is not his formal role. There are no formal roles or any formal schedule. The Occupy media group is as loose as the protest itself.

"It just happens I'm comfortable [in front of the camera] because I'm a performer, so getting in front of the camera [and] trying to inspire people to do stuff is just who I am," Vincent says.

He's got the looks for TV as well: lanky, with big brown eyes and a quick smile. Still, his sudden celebrity seems to surprise even himself.

"This guy walks up to me and he's like, 'Are you Hero?' " Vincent recalls. "And he says, 'Man, I saw your video. The only reason I'm here today is because I saw your video ... can I take a picture with you?' "

Vincent never wanted to be a journalist, if that's what he is. His Livestream fame is just a byproduct of what he really came to one of the Day 1 protests to talk about.

"My family has been foreclosed on. My father's been unemployed [for] a couple years now. My sister's in school with high tuition. It's just been a long time coming; we've been working hard. I've been working since I was 14 just to help my parents put food on the table. So it was inevitable for me to be here," he says.

A Career In The Media?

But for others members of the Occupy Wall Street press corps, this may be a jump-start into another career in, well, media. If so, they're getting ample training.

"We all do the same things here," says Luke Richardson, who works on the Livestream. "We shoot, we edit, we charge batteries; we put up tarps when it rains; we keep people from stealing our equipment. It's constant work."

Richardson was previously working as a waiter. Four days into protesting he quit his job; we didn't get into the ironies of quitting work to protest unemployment. Richardson says this might be career advancement, just a career he had never considered before.

"I've been thinking about it a lot: How [can I] parlay this into some way to sustain myself? Because I do have bills to pay, and I love this and I want to keep doing it," he says.

Richardson is not alone. Several members of the media team, from an antiques dealer to an English master's student, are suddenly reconsidering their future careers. And for Laws, the kid who sold his TV to pay his way to New York, Hero Vincent wasn't the only reason he left Connecticut.

"Another reason I came down here was because I'm looking to become a journalist and I was going to go to school for it but this was going on. And I did not want to wait," Laws says.

Not only has the Occupy Wall Street movement spread from city to city; live streaming has caught on around the world, too. There are now demonstrations streaming live from Los Angeles to London.

This story was produced for TurnstyleNews.com, an online news service from Youth Radio.

Copyright 2013 Turnstyle. To see more, visit http://turnstylenews.com/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Not only are protesters occupying Zuccotti Park, they're also using a lot of space on Twitter and other social media sites. One of the hottest properties is Livestream, where visitors can watch live footage from the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Nina Porzucki of Turnstile News has that story.

NINA PORZUCKI, BYLINE: In the middle of the frenzy at Zuccotti Park, under a giant pink umbrella, protesters hover over laptops surrounded by mounds of equipment covered in blue tarps. A beaten-up sign rests at their feet with the word "media" written in Magic Marker. This is the Occupy Wall Street media headquarters.

COLIN LAWS: We have people that monitor social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, people that monitor the news, people that Livestream. That's a huge thing, actually, because that's how we get a lot of our news out to our followers.

PORZUCKI: That's Colin Laws. He's 19, from Connecticut, and a week ago he was one of those Livestream followers watching the streaming video of Zuccotti Park over the Internet. And then, after weeks of just watching the Global Revolution - that's the name of the Livestream channel - he sold his TV and all his video games and bought a bus ticket to New York. What really brought him out to the protest?

LAWS: Seeing Hero and all the other people on Livestream, it ended up having me come down here to help out with media.

(SOUNDBITE OF LIVESTREAM)

HERO VINCENT: Yo, what's up, everybody?

PORZUCKI: Hero Vincent - yes, that's his name - is a protester turned Livestream broadcaster, turned icon. Here's a clip from the Livestream last Friday right after the city announced it would not evacuate protesters to clean the park.

VINCENT: We are at a beautiful moment right now. There's thousands of people out here, as you can see, and we're all standing in solidarity and I'm losing my voice again, unfortunately.

PORZUCKI: If the Livestream has a news anchor, I suppose he's it, but news anchor is not his formal role. There are no formal roles or any formal schedules. The Occupy media is as loose as the protest itself.

VINCENT: It just happens. Like, I'm comfortable in front of the camera because I'm a performer, so, like, getting in front of the camera, trying to inspire people to do stuff is - this is who I am.

PORZUCKI: Vincent never wanted to be a journalist, if that's what he is. His Livestream fame is just a byproduct of what he really came down on day one to talk about.

VINCENT: You know, like my family has been foreclosed on. You know, my father's been unemployed a couple years now and my sister's in school, higher tuition and it's just been a long time coming and we've been working hard. I've been working since I was 14 just to help my parents, you know, put food on the table, so it was inevitable for me to be here.

PORZUCKI: But for other members of the Occupy Wall Street press corps, this may be a jumpstart into another career in - well, media. Luke Richardson works on the Livestream.

LUKE RICHARDSON: What do I do? We all do the same thing here. We shoot, we edit, we charge batteries, we put up tarps when it rains, we keep people from stealing our equipment. It's constant work.

PORZUCKI: What is your experience before?

RICHARDSON: I'm a waiter.

PORZUCKI: Or he was a waiter. Four days into protesting, he quit his job. We didn't get into the ironies of quitting work to protest unemployment. Richardson says this might be career advancement, just a career he had never considered before.

RICHARDSON: I've been thinking about it a lot, how I can parlay this into some way to sustain myself because I do have bills to pay and I love this and I want to keep doing it.

PORZUCKI: Richardson is not alone. Several members of the media team, from an antique dealer to an English master's student, are suddenly reconsidering their future careers. Remember Colin Laws who sold his TV to get to New York? Well, Hero Vincent wasn't the only reason he left Connecticut.

LAWS: Another reason I came down here was because I'm looking to become a journalist and I was going to go to school for it, but this was going on and I did not want to wait. I wanted to get down here.

PORZUCKI: Not only have Occupy Wall Street demonstrations spread from city to city, live streams of the protest have caught on around the world. You can now watch demonstrations from Los Angeles to London.

For NPR News, I am Nina Porzucki.

SIEGEL: And that story was produced by TurnstileNews.com. That's an online news service from Youth Radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.