Stephen entered the field of journalism not as a career, but out of a passion for truth spurred by repeatedly seeing news coverage that did not reflect what he personally witnessed with his own eyes. Rather than simply complain, he decided to “enter the arena” and make an attempt to better inform the public using his existing video and technical skills. Stepehen tries to create the type of journalism that he would consume; reporting that includes all available context and eschews a partisan bent. It’s content that provides accurate information: the foundation necessary for people to form sound opinions.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…”
The choice to operate as an independent journalist is based on the “Freedom of the Press” recognized in the First Amendment. The ability to communicate directly to the public without a corporate intermediary allows Stephen to avoid the pressure to bend the truth towards one popular narrative or another. What many have recognized over the past several years is the effects of centralized Big Media: there’s a good chance even your local newspaper is owned by a massive media conglomerate.
Too often, the narrative is prioritized over the facts: fitting evidence to a story that furthers a chosen narrative, rather than presenting all of the relevant facts and enabling readers to form their own opinions based on those facts. This is exemplified by a 2020 CNN chyron: “Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Protests.” As riots were occurring across the nation, it became clear that independent or “new media” journalists were doing a better job at covering the riots, especially when it came to the involvement of controversial ideologies or groups like Antifa or Communists. Stephen followed the reporting of independent journalists who were willing to stick their neck out to gather and publish information and stories that the mainstream media journalists were unable or unwilling to produce themselves.
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The idea to cover riots came out of a desire to fill a void in the mainstream media coverage. Nationally, the mainstream media was widely failing to provide anything more than narrative-fulfilling coverage. What Stephen also saw was the often-repeated scenario of police failing to arrest or even stop rioters. The only consequences for the rioters seemed to be from the small number of non-traditional (usually independent) media who were digging deeper exposing what was actually occurring in cities all across America. An example of the effectiveness is the drop in support for the Black Lives Matter movement after the widespread rioting in the summer of 2020. Stephen did not see any independent journalists doing the same type of reporting in his local area of Raleigh, NC, so he decided to enter the fray himself.
Safely Covering Riots
After watching a WRAL crew come under attack at an anti-police demonstration in Raleigh, Stephen put together gear to be able to covertly cover dangerous events while staying safe. Transparency is an extremely important principle of journalism, but it takes a second place to safety in the presence of anti-media intimidation and violence. Stephen has used the same equipment and strategy of blending in to stay safe while covering riots and demonstrations in Raleigh and Durham as well as the riot at the Capitol on January 6th.
The current social climate, the need for factual reporting, and a desire to do better instead of simply complaining led to Stephen’s plunge into independent journalism. His goal is to provide the objective facts that others can use to form opinions and make decisions. For this reason – he has entered the arena.