You will know when it exists -- Obscure journalism direct from our man on the ground.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Covering The Night - KONY - April 20th - London











Following the popularity of the Kony 2012 video, groups were set up on Facebook advertising a real-world convergence on April 20th to ‘cover the night’ with posters, raising further awareness of J. Kony. In the UK groups suggested ‘flash mobs’ meet up in Trafalgar Sq., central London at around 9pm. Over 27,000 said they would be attending.

I arrived just before 10pm after a few pints down the boozer. On the walk across the river and up Whitehall I hadn’t seen one Kony poster. When I arrived at Trafalgar there were no mobs around other than the standard teams of Friday night jolly boys. I asked a bloke in fluorescent orange overhauls if he knew anything about the Kony meet-up.
“A group of girls asked me the same question a minute ago. I don’t know anything about it. What exactly is it supposed to be?”
“There was meant to be some sort of demonstration to raise awareness of an African warlord. I’m here to cover the night as a journalist.” I tell him.
“Well I’ve been here for the past hour and haven’t seen anything. They are setting up for St. Georges day in there.” He waves his hand to the fenced off area of the square.
I take a long drag on my cigarette and ask, “So what are you doing?”
“I’m working on the underground putting backup generators in every station in case something goes wrong - terrorism or anything like that - during the Olympics.”
He goes on to tell me more about the back-up cables and assures me that everything, including Blackfriars station will be finished by July. Phew. Back to Kony.
I start walking home through Charing Cross station when I catch a glimpse of some kids with writing on their faces. KO on the right cheek, NY on the left. They are asking a busker to play stand by me. The busker is refusing. I go and talk to them.
“So you came out for cover the night. You’re the only people I’ve seen.”
“We haven’t seen many people either.” Says a girl with short ginger hair and freckles. “Where are your posters?” her friend who is carrying some cello-tape asks me.
“I’m just here as a journalist” I reply.
“You’re not from the Guardian are you?” says the ginger girl with disgust and accusation in her voice.
“No, freelance.” *cough* blog *cough*
“Ok well you can come with us if you want the perspectives of some 14 year-olds.”
Why not? I go along with them for a short while. Then a girl runs up saying she’s lost her wallet. I am frantically asked to hold a wad of their homemade posters and a green Crayola felt tip pen. High drama ensues as the girls search for the wallet and the boys of the group demand that they go to Dalston (because another faction of their group are heading that way). They disappear down the stairs to the tube.
When I get home I realise the wad of posters is actually just a couple of crude sprawls, the rest of the stack is just blank A4 sheets. I look at the drawings and have to question what was really going though their minds.
One reason I went was to poke a bit of fun at the Kony mob and witness the mobilisation of the Facebook generation. This generation make it all too easy to have fun poked at them – See scanned posters.
I had no fun. All I felt was a kind of sadness.
The call to action of the most viral video of 2012 (with over 88 million views) had translated to a mere 30 or so teenagers actually taking action outside the virtual sphere.
…Still, there are a select few willing to take to the streets.
…Still, there are blank pages on my table.
…Still, there is a green Crayola felt tip pen in my hand.