For an individual attempting to provide web sites with both news stories and photo coverage of the continuing series of protests against the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police Department by the group called "Anonymous," the inherent dangers to the art of journalism are becoming apparent.
On Monday, August 22, 2011, this columnist went to the BART Civic Center station to get some news photos. Through a combination of experience, intuition, luck and skill we took, and subsequently posted, photos that illustrated the events from the early part of that night's events.
To augment our after event fact finding process, we attended the Special Meeting of the BART Board of Directors held in Oakland on August 24, 2011. That provided us with background information from both sides which will help improve the quality of any subsequent news stories. We took photos of the massive media coverage of the meeting that started at 9 a.m. According to statistics provided by one reporter, there were 32 members of the media, 18 BART PD officers, and 14 members of the public who submitted speaker cards, and a Board of Directors quorum in attendance.
We took photos that illustrated the heavy TV presence at the Board meeting, but since the board took no direct action, we didn't see any news value for making the effort to post photos of a bunch of video camera operators at work.
At that meeting a protest spokesperson, Kristoff, said that the protests would continue, so on Monday August 29, 2011, we traveled to the Civic Center station to take photos if something newsworthy occurred.
The protesters changed tactics and no arrests were made in that station.
The protesters moved above ground and the responsibility for security changed from the BART Police Department to the San Francisco Police Department.
Various people spoke to the multitude of reporters about the Anonymous and No Justice No BART criticism of the BART PD. Several representatives of other protest groups (such as nudists and Native American Rights) with other causes, tried to avail themselves of the easy access to the large media contingent on hand to draw attention to their issues.
The protesters decided to walk to the Powell Street BART station and did so.
When it seemed to the World's Laziest Journalist that the evening was drawing to a conclusion, we took a bus to the downtown area to catch an AC bus back to Berkeley. As the bus approached the Embarcadero BART station area, we observed another phase of the BART protest and took some more photos.
For an individual writing about the event has to be a subjective report. You can't take photos of arrests and talk to the PIO (Public Information Officer) at the same time. You can't be on the scene and get an overview from the sidelines simultaneously. When another reporter says that arrests were made earlier at the Embarcadero station ticket booth, you can't categorically state hearsay evidence into a news story without either your own visual confirmation or an official police statement. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in its edition for Tuesday August 30, 2011, that two arrests were made at the Embarcadero station.
In the old days, a photographer would have to go develop the film and have an editor "AKA the photo desk" select a frame to make a print which would then "move on the wire" if it was good enough to meet their standards of excellence. Now, a digital photographer has to get to a computer, download his work, and for vertical shots, rotate the appropriate files. Then he edits his own work. We know of one instance where an editor used the opinion of a stringer to confirm "the desk's" selection from the available frames.
A photographer can't do the digital file clerk work and (if he is working at ome an lacke internet access) simultaneously monitor Internet news organizations at the same time. KCBS news radio indicated that the protesters had changed tactics for their protest on August 29, 2011.
We will use the ominous implications for the Journalism Industry that we see in the shrinking number of professional journalists as a topic for a future column. We will revisit the BART PD vs critics' dispute as events warrant. We will, as time permits, use the topic of online photojournalism for some future columns, as time and inspiration permits.
Taking photos of the arrests that occurred on Monday August 22, 2011, provided a bit of nostalgia and the sense that "we still got it," for a photographer who was reminded that some things haven't changed much since doing similar work in the L. A. area in the seventies.
Covering the BART board of directors meeting was similar to covering Santa Monica city council meetings back in the days when Clo Hoover was the mayor and covering Culver City council meeting when that group shared their building with a branch of that city's fire department.