The Essential Gear Guide For The Occupy Journalist
Jan 2012 02

The Essential Gear Guide For The Occupy Journalist

Posted In Activism,Blog,Politics

by Zach Roberts

There are many different kinds of press that cover OWS: the citizen journalist (personal blog, CNN ireporter/scab), the streamer (Livestream, Ustream, etc.), the social media micro-blogger/tweeter, and the pros who make their living from it. This may be one of the first large stories that all four types have worked together on for the most part with a common goal – getting the word out. It’s tough, there’s many factors working against all of us – the weather, the time of day, and the biggest problem – the police. Whatever your level, I’ve compiled a list of equipment that’ll keep you and what you’re witnessing covered.

1. Like the OWS protestor, Occupy journalists are at risk from pepper spray and tear gas – but we need to keep on working through it. A face mask with full facepiece that has a large unobstructed viewing area is therefore a great accessory to have on hand.

2. Come rain or shine journalists need to be there – and so does our gear. Pics or it didn’t happen – that’s the mantra. So you’ll need some rain covers. There are more expensive ones out there, but they take up room in your bag and once they’re wet you can’t put them back in your bag. The great thing about these is once the sun is shining again you can just chuck them in the trash – or hang them to dry if you’re a hippy.

3. Whether you’re a social journo or a pro, you’ll need to be tweeting/texting your followers/editors. And unless you work off a Blackberry (I mean, really who does?), you’ll need to be able to touch your screen. If you’re covering OWS in NYC, Chi-town, Boston or Anchorage (yes there is a OWS in Alaska), it gets cold out there – so you’ll need special touchscreen compatable gloves.

4. Speaking of phones, you’re gonna need something like the Samsung Vibrant with 5 MP camera / HD 720p camcorder and GPS. And, unless you’re grandfathered in on AT&T plan like I am, you won’t have unlimited bandwidth on your phone – unless you’re on the T-Mobile network. The streamers on the ground at #OWS tell me it’s the only way to go. Also the 4G speed will give you the quickest streaming and uploads for Twitpics. Make sure you get the Ustream and Tweetdeck apps.

5. The Nikon D7000 camera body is pricey – but when compared to the rigs the big pro’s use it’s a deal. It’s what I use to get shots like these. For a pro-sumer level camera, it’s built like a tank – but most importantly it shoots photos in the dark. No, not Blair Witch Project-style with green eyes, but with real colors that are almost better than what the human eye sees. To take full advantage of the camera’s sensor though you’ll want to pick up a lens with a wide 1.4 aperture – like this excellent Sigma 30mm 1.4 lens. It’s what I used to shoot video with down at Zuccotti Park.

6. Finally you’ll need some inspiration when you get hit with a bad case of writers block. For me it’s Laurie Penny’s book Penny Red. Hands down the best protest journalism I’ve read since…well, I’m not really sure when I’ve read better.

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Zach Roberts is a photojournalist for SuicideGirls, Greg Palast, and The Mudflats. His work on #OWS has appeared on The Guardian Online, in Portfolio, and now in a new book out by Alternet called The 99%: How the Occupy Wall Street Movement Is Changing America.

For more visit his website, Facebook, and Twitter.