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Summary:

Last Wednesday, the team behind CBS Interactive’s MobLogic went out on the streets of New York to cover the Sean Bell protests. During the protest, MobLogic host Lindsay Campbell (formerly of Wallstrip) was arrested…voluntarily. As the show’s executive producer, Adam Elend, puts it in a blog […]

Last Wednesday, the team behind CBS Interactive’s MobLogic went out on the streets of New York to cover the Sean Bell protests. During the protest, MobLogic host Lindsay Campbell (formerly of Wallstrip) was arrested…voluntarily. As the show’s executive producer, Adam Elend, puts it in a blog post regarding MobLogic‘s episode on Lindsay’s arrest, which went live on Sunday:

I’ve been filming at large scale protests for eight years now, and never have I been to one quite like this: The police set up a protest zone, and the protesters went to the protest zone…People who were going to be arrested signed up. Protesters with legal trouble weren’t allowed. Protesters without their IDs weren’t allowed…The mood was relaxed. You got the sense that nothing that either side didn’t know was going to happen.

In the episode, Campbell explains that she signed up to get arrested (literally) partially because she sided with the protesters, who want the state and the city to develop new tactics for investigating police brutality cases, and partially because she “wanted to be where the action was.” But this episode is most valuable for revealing the total lack of action at this event, of the mundanity and the mechanism of the contemporary political protest. The NYPD cops on display may have been, as Campbell puts it, “Keystone,” but based on MobLogic‘s footage, there’s no sign that the protesters had any intention of doing anything incendiary enough to require more than bare competence on the part of the police. It sort of puts a whole new spin on the idea of “civil” disobedience — indeed, Campbell calls it “Protesting 2.0,” with a wink in her voice.

The obvious question raised: What’s the difference between a video of protesters getting arrested produced from the outside, and one produced by a reporter so inside that she actually went to jail? Beyond the fact that there’s a close-up of a “government cheese sandwich” (and I’m curious as to how it was sourced, because it seems unlikely that Campbell would have been allowed to hold onto a camera long enough to be able to document jail lunch — a recreation, perhaps?), I think the real difference — and improvement — lies in the towards-the-end shot of Al Sharpton, rubbing his eyes, wearily answering Campbell’s questions for MobLogic‘s camera. I’ve never seen such a professionally “on” figure allow themselves to be captured so “off” before, seemingly without calculation.

Disclosure: Current MobLogic producer Scott Solary used to produce a weekly movie show called ReelerTv, on which I appeared semi-regularly as a guest.

  1. Thanks for the great coverage! None of this footage was recreated though. You can actually see the shot where Lindsay (in cuffs) catches a small flip camera that was tossed to her. And the all the shots from jail (including the cheese sandwich) were taken by Lindsay from the holding cell. – Jeff Marks, Co-Creator, MobLogic

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  2. Jim Parsons Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    The reporter repeatedly defends her decision to get personally involved in the story she is covering. I suspect that if she truly believes she was justified – as a journalist – in taking sides on a story, she would not be quite so defensive in her storytelling. It’s one thing to intentionally get arrested in order to get better access to unfolding events. It’s quite another matter, however, for a reporter to break the law because she agrees with protestors.

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  3. I’m not sure I understand why Lindsay calls herself a journalist and gets tied up in all the ethics the term comes with. I guess because she sticks a microphone in people’s faces and gets media passes to events.

    But her show is clearly about a opinions and she is an active commentator. She’s not at all trying to be an objective, unbiased source of information.

    Sure, MobLogic risks losing its credibility if it became too partisan, but if she wants to get arrested and show us the cheese sandwich, that clearly has value.

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  4. Lindsay is completely honest about who she is, what she believes and why she’s telling this particular story.

    That’s highly credible behavior.

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  5. Yeah, I agree, Eric. My comment wasn’t meant to be negative.

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  6. [...] the folks behind Wallstrip, has gained a fair amount of notoriety for somewhat gimmicky stunts like host Lindsay Campbell getting voluntarily arrested. But the show does live up to its mission statement of providing a reality check on mainstream [...]

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