If you’ve watched livestream night-vision footage of police clashing with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, or chanting, marching protesters, you probably saw at least some of that from Argus Radio.
But the independent, digital, volunteer-operated St. Louis, Missouri, station wasn’t livestreaming before a police officer shot and killed Michael Brown on Saturday, Aug. 9. A few days after that, their equipment arrived in the mail. Argus Radio’s Mustafa Hussein planned to offer livestreaming concerts to help independent musicians. When he saw what was happening in Ferguson, he grabbed the new gear, came to Ferguson on the night of Wednesday, August 13th, and started streaming.
Hussein has made news already. Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone wrote about Hussein and his operation. The Washington Post’s Andrea Peterson wrote about Hussein getting threatened by police while covering Ferguson.
And we wondered — what’s he working with?
I met up with Hussein on Thursday night in Ferguson. He stood on top of a pile of rocks just behind CNN’s setup on West Florissant Avenue, smoking, taking a call from home and watching protesters march up and down the street.
Let’s start from the top. Hussein has a basic camera light, a daylight camera and a WiFi hotspot with 17 gig unlimited data transfer to mobile. Next there are two boxes, one red and one black. The red box allows him to broadcast to livestream and transcodes video from the camera to the wireless router. The black box, a VidiU, does the same thing “except we got a call from YouTube Corporate requesting we live stream with that,” Hussein says. “So they overnighted the equipment to us.”
YouTube paid for that equipment and is now sponsoring a streaming package.
Next, there’s a Cannon xF100. This is their third; the first two were damaged during coverage. Then there’s a tripod, also their third. There’s a wireless mic router, a surge protecter, a power cord, and an HDMI splitter. The cords run into the trunk of a car, into a generator, which is plugged into the lighter or directly hooked up to the battery. (Tonight it’s a rental car, so they’re just using the lighter.) They did have a night vision lens, but it was damaged during coverage. He can also switch his livefeed to his iPhone, which he has done before.
Hussein plans to keep livestreaming from Ferguson.
“I’m from here,” he says. “I live here. So yes, I’ll stay here. We will continue to cover this.”
The mainstream media has a role in covering stories such as Ferguson, he says.
“They have the ability to analyze information and present it in an organized manner.”
But that often comes with spin and political opinion, he thinks. He’s just telling people what he sees.
It’s not citizen journalism, Hussein says, that denigrates it. It’s something new, something he’s still looking for the right words for. Maybe just first-hand journalism — showing people what’s happening as it happens.
In Ferguson, protesters stop marching for a moment, police gather, and Hussein looks up, grabs his microphone and starts talking.
“So, what’s happening now…”