Three days ago Jonathan MacDonald witnessed an altercation in the London Underground at the Holborn Station, between — as Jonathan reports it — a uniformed Underground staffer an elderly man whose arm had just been released from doors that had closed on it while he was leaving. The staffer was loud and rude, while the passenger was calm and gentlemanly. Jonathan also recorded the last of the event on video — and blogged the event, video and all.
Fast forward 24 hours and the story has run as the leader on Sky, BBC, LBC, ITN (see sample news coverage here) and on the front page of the Evening Standard. This followed thousands of Tweets and Re-Tweets (including the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, getting involved), 65,000 video views yesterday alone on YouTube and hundreds of comments on this and many other blogs. Plus, the guard has been suspended and is under investigation.
All I did was see something that shouldn’t be tolerated and used the ammunition we have in our hands – video/blogs/network.
I blog almost every day so this wasn’t any different. The content of this one seemed to grab attention though, and it was this attention that made things spiral. Hence, the main reason this story has flown is due to what happened on camera. We must remember that. It’s not me. I didn’t ‘invent the story’. I just blogged, like I do, and the Twitterverse powered the rest. Although charming to be the focus of the viral activity – I actually had the smallest part.
In that post Jonathan shows, with photos, how the story was played by the mainstream media. His summary:
The Twitterers, Bloggers and commentators were the only people who played this right. The stories were shared and eventually the press picked it up.
What we need is for Industry to learn the key techniques of Involvism that the Twitterers, Bloggers and commentators already implement.
So far there are seventy comments, including pros and cons about what Jonathan (jMac there) did, and his replies.
Most interesting to me about this are the stories being told, because those have always been the stock-in-trade of journalism, especially in newspapers. As I put it here,
The basic job of newspaper reporters is to write stories. In simplest terms, stories are interesting arrangements of facts. What makes stories interesting are: 1) protagonists (persons, groups, teams, “issues” or causes); 2) a struggle, problem or conflict of some sort; and 3) movement forward (hopefully, by not necessarily, toward a conclusion). Whether or not you agree with that formulation, what cannot be denied is the imperative.
Jonathan did his best as a witness. He also had a story to show and tell: the abuse of a passenger. That’s what he reported. As it happened, Jonathan caught the name (Ian) and the face of the Underground staffer, but only the back of the passenger (a man with gray hair in a business jacket carrying a leather bag). There are other stories to be told, of course. Read them in Jonathan’s comment thread
In the old media world, freedom of speech belonged to companies that bought ink by the barrel. In the new media world, it belongs to everybody with a cell phone or a keyboard. Get used to it. Or, as Jonathan did, put it to use.