“Maker Culture” And The Little White Lies

December 10, 2011 — 5 Comments

The Willard via iPhone

I saw “Maker Culture” at work front and center and it was not a pretty sight.I was at the historic Willard Hotel the other night in Washington DC. I was having dinner with a small dinner party in a private dining room at the  hotel. The  storied Willard was where Martin Luther King put the final touches on the brilliant “I Have A Dream” speech; where the Battle Hymn of the Republic” was penned, and where Walt Whitman improved on some of his poems for his seminal “Leaves Of Grass”, so scandalous at the time that he had to self publish. For hundreds of years, the Willard has served a  diverse guest list  of a free nation and at every level of the political spectrum.

The Willard is also at the epicenter of our nation’s capital. It is a stone’s throw from the White House, and not far from K Street where the encampments for the Occupy Movement  currently exist. That morning, the Occupy movement of 700 protestors marched down K Street, stopping traffic.


Occupy K Street

The DC Police were everywhere including outside the Willard hotel. At approximately, 8 pm when dinner was served at the party, the Occupy movement walked into the private dining room with a bull horn and  a siren chanting “We are the 99%” There were approximately  20 Occupy protesters. Apparently, they had cleverly infiltrated the very busy hotel one by one,  past the police posing as friendly holiday travelers, hours before a fund raiser was to begin for Newt Gingrich. They had ordered drinks at the bar, newspapers in the lobby, until their appointed rendezvous of disruption at 8 pm.

They were successful in the rendevous on one level:  they converged on an event with their noise makers, creating quite a cacophony. The only problem was:  they were not at the right place. But in “Maker Culture”, does it matter? The intent was to cause disruption at the Newt Gingrich Fund Raiser at the hotel. While I didn’t count them, there seemed to be approximately 50 ballrooms and private facilities at the Willard. The protestors had lost their way. They had gone to the wrong banquet room. I understand Newt Gingrich was staying at the hotel, but I could not get that verified by the Willard, which makes sense, as it  caters to the privacy of its guests.

The first thing that surprised me was an Occupy protestor falling flat to the floor and screaming “Assault! Assault!”  Of the 20 or so protestors, ten of them were equipped with cell phone video and all of them were recording. I thought to myself, this will be recut to show some sort of abuse or harassment; I have been surprised that nothing has shown up yet on the internet.

By 7 am the next morning, there were several different videos posted on YouTube, all with thousands of hits, all from our new “Maker Culture”.  There is no question that the Occupy movement is well versed in transmedia strategy….only it was not the truth: they had not occupied a Newt Gingrich event. Here’s is one of the videos. The fellow with the megaphone  definitely has a memorable staccato.

The biggest surprise was how many legitimate venues carried the”Maker Culture”  story without checking sources. Perhaps, the LA Times and Keith Olberman no longer care about the truth in a world leaning towards further confusion in  the mdeia. I had always understood that the journalistic code required at least two credible sources. It does not seem that any of these venues checked with anyone  from the hotel or the Newt Gingrich camp or anyone from the party that they crashed.

Here is the event reconstructed by Countdown with Keith Olberman. Olberman interviews a reporter from Mother Jones who I did not see in the room.

While I was looking for the Willard Hotel, I came upon this story from Countdown. On the same  rainy night, Bill O’Reilly left the Willard Hotel to attend a White House Christmas Party. It is said that he “assaulted” an occupier with his umbrella. It is interesting to note that the apparent “assault” takes place off camera with only the sound of the cameraman and victim making noise.  We are all now storyboard artists. Welcome to “Maker Culture”.

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5 responses to “Maker Culture” And The Little White Lies

  1. I fear we have left the culture of journalism that was about objectivity, even if it was flawed. Part of the reason – the continuing cuts in operating budgets in all major news operations have left an indelible mark. Stories are not fact-checked as they should be.
    The other reason – each news outlet has its own point of view, and let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story! Especially with so much air time to fill.
    Finally, what has bothered me so much about this whole Occupy movement, is that for one to be even living in this country, we ALL are the 1%. We have so much compared to much of the rest of the world. While the original intent might have been a good one, I fear this whole schtick (and yes, I believe that’s what it is now) is fast becoming a political tool to be utilized during the upcoming election. I haven’t seen any outbreaks of this kind of ‘demonstration’ at any events of the President, even though during this administration, not one legal case has been brought against the so-called criminals the Occupy movement says it is trying to spotlight. Seems to be a real error in logic there somewhere.

    • Thanks,Martha. Your insights are very helpful. I did not realize that the cuts in the news departments had been so complete. Yes, and there is the issue of airtime to fill….every hour….every day and week.

      The most disappointing aspect to me in journalism seems to be the absence of the well researched story that takes a lot of fuel to track down but helps to contextualize the world which is getting harder and harder to put together!!!

  2. Classic journalism is going down the pipes. What makes a news or faux news item valid now more and more is “the numbers.” Stuff that goes “viral” gains traction as people and organizations pass it on, retweet it or “like” it. And by linking to/sharing a faux news item, the sharer avoids responsibility for the foundation accuracy and credibility – his/her only responsability is to provide a technically operational linkage – and thus adding his/her voice to the roar of the crowd at the spectacle – the medium HAS become the message. I happen to agree with some of occupy’s rhetoric and admire the camps. I have been to both in DC to visit and photograph, and on the other hand to the Willard for dinner once. But someone screwed up with this video and the propagation in the media. Too bad they missed Newt and made fools of themselves.

    • Russell – Thanks for the comment. I was cultivated in a different era when there was only a lean back experience for the news. It is fascinating how linkage and short bites have made up the new journalistic food chain. I am all for discourse and diversity — I am just surprised how the so-called credible news outlets have fallen into the fray. Hope you are well. Thanks again for being part of the conversation as it were! David

  3. David, thank you for posting your first-hand perception of yet another example of the intentional political and media misinformation that is so prevalent. Your experience just reinforces my suspicion of the Wiki-influenced world we now live in. As long as it’s the hottest, slickest (or “sic”-est, using the latest term) resource out there, there seems to be little if any question or investigation into the authenticity, even bias of what is being promoted. A chilling example is to look up the words “liberal” and “conservative” at http://www.dictionary.com and note the adjectives used in defining them. This is a commonly bookmarked site for students. Interesting.
    As we write history – as it occurs – but document that history with faulty or, in the Occupiers at Willard case, completely fabricated evidence where is our country headed? Decisions, choices, and consequences will be manifesting from those who may be truly sincere in their efforts to gather honest information but have blindly trusted their resources – with no way of having known they were even deceived.

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