PHOTO ESSAY: Citizen & Alternative Journalism at the Vancouver Olympics

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Citizen journalism is nothing new to our world of available technology. It has become second nature for people to capture their experience, events or news in their environments on their phones, cameras or computers. We live in a world were journalism is an action and all of citizens have stepped forth into that call to action.

However, this is the first Olympic Games of its kind were the real stories that are happening are not necessarily the ones that are showcased by the sponsor holding media companies. The internet with its free social platforms of TwitterFacebookFlickrWordPress and Tumblr have cascaded into the landscape from which fans are acquiring their in-real-time coverage of culture, events and community of the Olympic Games.

Static Photography has been out in Vancouver covering the very broad spectrum of events that are occurring in the city upon the official arrival of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. From the opening ceremony, to press conferences, to torch relays and event demonstrations, Kris Krüg has been covering these events and capturing fans and media covering these same events for themselves.

Photographic Recap of Citizen Journalism that is present at the Olympic Games:

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Citizen journalists John Biehler and Dave Olson hold up the media accreditation badge for the True North Media House. TNMH is an independent media house for the Vancouver Winter Olympics and provides media accreditation to citizen journalists of all types.

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Another independent media house that has arisen during the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games if the W2 Woodwards Media + Culture House. This independent media house, located in the DTES, is providing space for many Vancouver media outlets like the Tyee and CBC. It is also providing space to organizations, like the Legal Observers, that are providing community services during the month of February.

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Rebecca Bollwitt, aka Miss604, is a podcaster, blogger and all around social media maven. She has been actively covering the Vancouver Winter Olympics for her ver popular Vancouver community site.

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There is only one official media accreditation for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, but since there are many more media organizations that are covering the games that just the official one, other forms of accreditation have formed. Robert Scales who runs the site VancouverAccess is holding up his British Columbia International Media Centre media accreditation badge.

Fire with Fire - artist Isabelle Hayeur - 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad - W2 Woodward's - Vancouver, British Columbia

Often times as citizen journalists, our main vantage point is through the lens or view finder of our camera. We see the world as it is captured in documentation. Here is an HDR shot of the a 2010 Cultural Olympiad media installation called ‘Fire with Fire’ by Isabelle Hoyeur. This installation is live at the w2 Woodwards Media + Culture House for the entire duration of the games.

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There are many people who actively involved in citizen journalism and can recognize their actions as such. The real revolution is happening within the everyday community members, fans, and general public who are recording their lives in digital documentation and then sharing it on the internet for their friends, family or the world to see.

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For the past year and half, Andrew Lavigne has been documenting the story of social media as it plays into the preparation of the Vancouver Winter Olympics and the city of Vancouver as whole. Produced by Jon Ornoy and titled ‘With Glowing Hearts’, this documentary tells the digital evolution of many stories including W2 Woodward’sTrue North Media House and Fearless City.

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The gentlemen was a participant of an anti-olympic rally that convened at the Vancouver Art Gallery on the same day as the Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics. There were many cameras at the rally, with everyone wanting to document their direct experience with the massive gathering.

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In the same light that a protestor might want to capture their experience in a retrospective format, the opposite side, the police department, utilizes the same tactic to work against the protestors. Whether it is for visual documentation for a later catalogue or a later examination, the police department are acting in part of citizen journalists and creating media for their own community.

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Often times like a silent third party, the citizen journalist can be caught in the line of cross-fire in such events as demonstrations and protests. The symbiotic relationship of the police, protestors, and photographers can be a dance of fierce neutrality. Here Michael Tippet of NowPublic and our studio manager at Static PhotographyDanielle Sipple, are seen in the middle of a large demonstration.

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Our first response, during any kind of tragedy, is to immediately share this knowledge with the ones we know. Our instant accessibility to sharing via our cell phones is a valuable resource. Here the public is shown immediately sharing the news of the anti-Olympic demonstrations that caused property damage in downtown Vancouver.

Olympic Resistance Network - No 2010 Press Conference - DTES Vancouver, British Columbia

The Olympic Resistance Network held a press conference a mere days before the beginning of the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Geared towards making a massive statement to the press about their actions during the games, both traditional and citizen journalists were there to cover this monumental event.

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The 3rd Annual Poverty Olympics took place in Vancouver, to bring light to the many social and economic travesties that are present in Vancouver, even as a present-day host city. Here is a community member filming the satirical event as a testament to the needed voice that this events provide.

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The Legal Observers are a group of citizen witnesses to act as public eyes to the ongoings of the street-level events during the Olympic Games, mostly when police presence is involved. There are two groups of Legal Observers present at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games: Legal Observers from the Lawyers Guild and Legal Observers from the Vancouver community. The main priorities of these observers are to record data during events, badge numbers, arrests, violence and anything else that could need a witness testimony.

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Chris Wheeler is a great example of a citizen journalist making the most fun out if an experience. Geared up as the ‘2010 Torch Reporter‘, Wheeler followed the Olympic Torch around its journey throughout Canada, documenting his whole  experience on video. Not only did he follow the Torch along its vast Canadian route, Wheeler also coupled the documentation with a travel-style viewpoint of the many facets of Canada and the adventures to be had.

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Everyone has the ability to capture their own experience through film or photos, even when there is a strife tension between the two subjects. Here is a protestor making a visual testament to the police visibility that was seen during the Olympic demonstrations. Citizen journalism has a presence everywhere in Vancouver.

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Citizen journalism is an action. By the simple means of documenting our world around, whether with our fancy cameras or our always handy cell phones, we are actively participating in sharing our experience with the world. It is not really how is happening but that it is happening all the time. We are journalists and the world is full of our news.