Footage Courtesy of Youtube

Posted on November 23, 2009

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KTVU’s lead story on Sunday night is a perfect example of the on-going Youtubification of the Nightly News.

It becomes clear by the end of the story that the BART police press conference created this television story; it involved almost zero investigatory or reporting work on the part of KTVU.  The press conference itself, ironically, is the obvious police reaction to dozens of Youtube Zapruder clips of BART police apparently murdering Oscar Grant–stung once, BART tried to get in front of this story, and rightly so.  Indeed, the police official noted as much. As you watch the clip, look for his oddly honest admission at the end–“We are keenly aware of what Youtube brings to the public”–as he described BART’s rationale for the press event.

But far more interesting to me, is how the stock arm-flapping that is local news is laid bare by stories like these. What is it that local tv news can bring to this story in the first place? The arrest occurred the previous night, and the on-the-scene reporting is over 24 hours later and virtually pointless. All they can do is report the press conference, and despite the self-promoted investigatory power of television media to uncover and illuminate, they were invited to that by the very actors  under scrutiny. The ever-growing power of Youtube to publicly EXPOSE made this a story all by itself, reversing the quotidian reality of the voiceless subject public by forcing both media and establishment to react. The bug in the bottom left corner of the screen “footage from Youtube” is the perfect expression of the ever more apparent superfluousness of the local news program.

Here’s the original Youtube video of the arrest:

And here’s another Youtube capture of police tazing someone during a baseball game at the Coliseum. This also became television news, and engendered a conversation about police abuse of tazing as a replacement for police work.


In both of these instances, apparently, the victims suffered from schizophrenia.

One last thing, perhaps of no real importance. In the background of the original Youtube video of the West Oakland incident, you can hear an idiot marveling at how cool it is to watch a man thrown through glass and wrestled to the ground in a pool of blood. That made me despondent about the trajectory of the human race, until I overheard the exact opposite sentiment coming from the background at the A’s game; someone excoriating the police for taking things too far.

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