Supporting Occupy Wall Street has claimed the job of another journalist. This time it’s Natasha Lennard, the New York Times freelancer who was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. She recently appeared on a pro-OWS panel; when the Times caught wind of it, they released a statement effectively dropping her from their roster: “This freelancer, Natasha Lennard, has not been involved in our coverage of Occupy Wall Street in recent days, and we have no plans to use her for future coverage.”
Lennard wrote in Salon yesterday that in the end, she doesn’t really care.
I am incredibly lucky to have interned and worked for institutions like the New York Times and Politico; the training, exposure and practice that these publications offer are in many ways unparalleled. But it is also with some pride that I have stopped writing for publications that aim for journalistic objectivity.
There is a loose analogy here with how Occupy Wall Street’s structure stands at odds with mainstream, electoral politics. Many of those involved in Occupy Wall Street have, with excellent cause, expressed dissatisfaction with representative politics in this country. In response, occupiers have sought new political spaces and interactions; they have taken politics into their own hands.
Similarly, if the mainstream media prides itself on reporting the facts, I have found too many problems with what does or does not get to be a fact — or what rises to the level of a fact they believe to be worth reporting — to be part of such a machine. Going forward, I want to take responsibility for my voice and the facts that I choose and relay. I want them to instigate change.
This has happened to other journalists too, like Caitlin E. Curran, who wrote a story for Gawker about how she was fired from her freelance radio gig for holding a sign at an OWS protest. But Lennard’s take gets into some big questions about what it means to be objective and whether it’s possible — or desirable.