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Jon Ziegler explains how Facebook changed livestreaming (Audio Bonus)
Jon Ziegler, a.k.a. Rebelutionary Z, was one of dozens of livestreamers who became popular among activists during Occupy Wall Street. Unlike most of them, he's still livestreaming and reporting from protests and direct actions around the country. 

Jon and I had a long chat while he was on the road earlier this week. I wanted to talk to Jon because he's one of the most talented streamers I know. I'm working on a zine about how activists use Facebook, and parts of our conversation will be excerpted there.

As a gonzo journalist, I respect that he always puts activists and their causes first even if that means missing some shots. If you want footage of broken windows, tune into the TV news. With Jon, you'll actually understand what's happening, why people are there, and what they're angry about. 

I asked Jon what kept him streaming after Occupy and how the introduction of Facebook Live changed his work.

Jon Ziegler, RebZ.TV: When Ferguson happened, I couldn't sit at home any longer. I'm like, this is the time. This is what that training during Occupy was for, to go down there. That reinvigorated me, and encouraged me that maybe I should keep doing this.

I've never intended to be a journalist, that's still not my intent. It just still happens to be what I do.

Kit O'Connell: You stream on a bunch of different channels at once, multistream, like you said. But, how has Facebook live changed what you do in any way?

JZ: Well, if anything it added visibility to what livestreaming is now. You know, I remember back in 2012 when we were streaming Occupy, nobody could -- 'What do you mean you're live on the internet? You're holding a phone?'

Kit laughs.

JZ: And even in Ferguson in 2014, and in Baltimore in 2015, you'd tell people hey you're live on the internet and they'd freak out like 'WHAT? Hey man!"

And now, after about just a year and a half of Facebook Live, you got out there and tell people they're live on the internet and they go like 'Yeah so, you are too. Look, I'm livestreaming you,' you know.

Kit laughs.

JZ: I think it's -- I never predicted that that would be one of the positive outcomes. It added the terminology into the social fabric now. What I do is more easily accessible now. When Facebook first came out, a lot of us were afraid it was going to erase independent journalists like us that depended on livestreams, now that anybody can do it. Actually, it had the opposite effect. Now that anybody can do it, the people that actually give you quality content can stand out. 

If anything the boost in Facebook's popularity, and now that everybody can livestream whatever they want has helped, actually helped the legitimacy and even the visibility of my streams.

Want a copy of my Facebook zine? Become a Gonzo Insider and I'll send you a signed copy as soon as it's available.


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