Thursday, November 03, 2011

Occupy Long Beach

"After reading an article about Occupy Long Beach, I took a trip downtown to investigate. News reports are not always accurate. Famous people are often misquoted, even non-famous people like myself get misquoted or misrepresented. Reporters often put their own spin on things, coloring readers perceptions with choice of words to report news.What I found after talking to several demonstrators and homeless people, is that local press' accounting of Occupy Long Beach was accurate."

That is how I started an article I wrote for Yahoo Contributor. The article was over 900 words and I edited it to death trying to whittle it down closer to the 400 word site standard. I can see, I made a big mistake when I deleted the entire first paragraph.

My next sentence was stand alone, intending to be a paragraph heading:

Why talk to the homeless?

Then I wrote a brief history of Lincoln Park, leading up to it being a long time hang out for the city's street population. Well, I thought to myself, who cares about what Andrew Carnegie did in 1908 ~ irrelevant except that I was leading up to proximity to City Hall and main library. Then I wrote about the conversations I had with people at the park.

I found a comment on my article from someone other than a YC peer, which is quite unusual. After raging me about my "lies" it ended:

"Are you just repeating gossip? Do you not feel any responsibility for what you write to be true?"

Well, gee, she needs to take it up with the Press-Telegram reporter and protester Johnathan Allen who was quoted in the article. I felt comfortable that I had verified the P-T facts after speaking to the people who have first hand knowledge.

The other thing I did wrong was title my article: Homeless vs. Occupy Long Beach. Because I edited out so much of the article, I could not title it: My Look at Occupy Long Beach. I did not like the sound of The Homeless and Occupy Long Beach. My focus is homelessness. Occupy Wall Street Comes To Long Beach? Yeah, about two weeks ago. I could have written a news report article, based on information garnered from the Press-Telegram, but that would basically be rewriting news which we are not allowed to do.

I had intended to take photos with permission to publish them, get full names and quotes from people I spoke to, again with permission to publish names or "did not want name used".

I truly regret not going with my full article. Describing Lincoln Park to someone who has never been to Long Beach was informative. I did not know when I wrote the article that Occupy Long Beach has its own website and Facebook page. If the woman who left me the comment did not like this article she is going to loathe the opinion article I started writing in my head...

...watching the arrest of two protesters, via Live Stream, sometime after 4AM, after another neighbor caused sleepless night in Long Beach. (11/1/11)

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