How citizen journalism unspun UC-Davis pepper-spray story

Zack Whittaker describes how YouTube videos captured by witnesses on Saturday demonstrate the way citizen journalism can dispel the official version of events. Although the University of California, Davis first said that police were “forced to use pepper spray,” that didn’t square with the video of an officer spraying students peacefully seated on the ground. “It is not 911 or 999 we call in an emergency,” Whittaker writes. “We do not think to engage with the situation. But what we do, as the Generation Y, is pull out our phones and start recording; documenting every second of the event for history’s benefit.” || The way it was: FDR controlled the flow of information after the Pearl Harbor attack (

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  • West Seattle Herald

    This is a fine example only because there are multiple cameras. But YouTube is rife with examples of UFO’s, Bigfoot and other pure bunk. The time is coming when the faked (or cleverly edited) ‘citizen journalism’ video will
    attempt to spin public opinion. It’s way too ripe a target to remain unsullied. We tend to believe what we see and of course we believe what is consistent with our preconceptions. Stay skeptical, even if you see three ‘versions’ of an event. The temptation to convince is very powerful.

    That’s not very likely in this case but going back to the “Don’t ease me bro” incident and others, these kinds of video ‘evidence’ can’t possibly put everything in context. For that, journalists ask questions, do research, check with other sources and then report. In the case of controversial actions that’s the job of the journalist.

    Clearly, in this case, the students WERE passive and did not require submission. The pepper spray was used as a tool of coercion. Just like water cannons and other crowd control measures.

    Peaceful civil disobedience has an important role in American History to be certain, and abuses of power are common. But it’s important to remember that video is an elastic medium. Stay skeptical.