The past two weeks cemented the role of the cellphone camera in citizen journalism. I was noodling around YouTube when I caught the video of a student getting Tasered for refusing to leave the library at UCLA. I’ll bet you’ve seen it. It’s agonizing to watch, to listen to some poor soul shriek as he gets zapped through two barbs implanted in his flesh, but the telling thing about the whole affair came at two points. One was the videographer — who I assume was capturing it on a cell phone — caught other students capturing the incident on cell phones. The second was the comments, when one viewer complained that the video sucked and the cameraperson was too much of a coward to get up close and personal and really show what was going on. That struck me as highly instructive — is there a simple guide to what to do when one sees news being made? Can a citizen simply wade into a confrontation and start taping? Look at the importance of the Zapruder films and ask yourself, if news is being made, are you ready to capture it?
The second event was the taking down of Kramer — Michael Whathisface — who launched into a racist attack and essentially got bagged by the same device. This leads me to the question, in a society under surveillance, who is more likely to catch a misdeed? The security camera screwed into the streetlamp by The Man or a mob of Verizon wielding everymen? Cool stuff.