AnnArbor.com Piece On Occupy Ann Arbor Receives Failing Grade

Short on facts, long on errors, and full of fluff.

In what appears to be an almost willful attempt on the part of AnnArbor.com to misrepresent or misunderstand the local Occupy movement, their lead article yesterday was headlined “Occupy Ann Arbor leaders on a mission to open new 24-hour warming center”. The piece spent several paragraphs implying that the local movement and its leaders’ main mission is a homeless project. The problem? The local movement has no “leader“, and this homeless project – though admirable – is merely a single project autonomously created by three individuals. It is not even fully supported by all participants in what would reasonably be defined as “Occupy Ann Arbor”. Having personally interacted with and having on request donated printing services to the camp residents who have mobilized the project, it is doubtful that the parties mentioned in the article represented themselves as “leaders” of anything other than the particular pursuit in question. It is more likely that the piece is either the result of lazy research and poor reporting, or an intentional and willful editorial decision to portray the local occupy movement inaccurately. One would like to assume the former. I personally – since I am not required to contact the fictional “leaders” of Occupy Ann Arbor described in Political Reporter Ryan J. Stanton’s piece to do so – challenge AnnArbor.com and Mr. Stanton to give equal time and space to a piece correcting their error-laden and simple-minded piece yesterday. I also welcome any concerned parties from the various local Occupy groups to comment here. Perhaps the most insightful thing about yesterday’s AnnArbor.com piece was how it highlighted the callous nature of the website’s most avid readership. Comments on the article mostly focused on hostility toward the homeless, and anger at “occupiers” for wanting to help them. People are certainly entitled to their positions on issues, but they’re also entitled to the facts. And AnnArbor.com mangled the central truth with the few facts they did present in this piece.

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2 Responses to AnnArbor.com Piece On Occupy Ann Arbor Receives Failing Grade

  1. Ryan says:

    So, let me get this straight: People who are meeting with the mayor on behalf of Occupy Ann Arbor and speaking before the City Council on behalf of the movement and have their names and contact information listed on Occupy fliers don’t qualify for the title “leaders”? That’s a little odd. I’d suggest that’s an issue you guys might want to work to resolve if you have people representing Occupy and you don’t consider them representative of the group.

  2. Ian says:

    Thanks for asking Ryan.

    It is this individual’s opinion – I can’t speak “officially” on behalf of the still slightly amorphous local groups as a whole – that the parties mentioned in the article are not “the leaders of Occupy Ann Arbor”. And that’s precisely my point. If one is writing an article about a group that collectively agrees it has no leader, and – even in the headline – refers to the group’s “leaders”, how can the piece as a whole be an accurate reflection of the movement it is allegedly describing?

    Did the parties mentioned in the article refer to THEMSELVES as the “leaders of Occupy Ann Arbor”? I haven’t had a chance to speak with them directly since the AnnArbor.com piece was posted, but I would be a little surprised if they did.

    For the record, I never said they were not “representative” of the group as you imply, I simply said they are not the “leaders”. The failure to recognize the balance of autonomy and consensus that might be expressed by ANY Occupy group in the US simply suggests that one hasn’t done their homework on the topic.

    I’d like to reiterate that this is my personal position (which is why I “un-anonymized” this post) and suggest that you inquire with other individuals via occupya2.org or occupyforall.org for a fuller, more accurate picture.

    I personally have tremendous admiration for the efforts of Orian and Sasha to deal with the homeless problem in Ann Arbor, but I and many others supportive of the Occupy movement in general – and the campers’ project specifically – would hardly consider it our first and only order of business.

    And at the end of the day, I think the fact remains that the lack of nuance or detail in the AnnArbor.com piece creates a very inaccurate perception of the movement as a whole.