Documenting your project

There are a lot of things wrong with the mainstream media—very, very wrong—but generally if you do their work for them they will be very happy to pay attention to your activism. Document everything that you can along the way, from the brainstorming to the day of the action and beyond. If your action includes some kind of street theater or any kind of live action human drama, always take care to ensure that someone from your team records it.

What You’ll Need

When we say “document everything,” we generally mean that: 1) you should use a video camera to film yourself and your co-conspirators as you work on your action, and 2) you should save HTML copies of any webpages, news coverage, blog posts, and radio spots that cover your story.

Regarding 1: You don’t need a fancy video camera to do this. A cell phone camera can shoot useable footage. If the sound isn't great, you might want to invest in a microphone, depending on where you’re hoping to use the video footage. (OK sound will be fine for youtube videos, but you need great sound for a video news release. Test it to see how much background noise there is. Background noise is death!)

Regarding 2: Most web browsers include a “save as HTML” option, which allows you to save a webpage. This is useful in case your coverage gets amended or taken down.

You should set up a few Google Alerts before your launch—use your group’s name, some of the keywords from your action, the name of your target, etc.—so you don’t miss any press. Then save it!

Start Documenting at the Start

If your action begins with a brainstorming session, film or record it!  Not only does it ensure that you will have a record of your work, you can watch later to see how things progressed. Having everything recorded in the brainstorming stages can also serve as back up notes, can be thrown into a video press release later, or can be used to revisit old ideas you might want to try out in future actions.

Save All Media Coverage During The Active Time

As your action goes active, create place to save all the press that you receive.  Save all online files, and be sure to name them appropriately for easy access. (In Firefox, select File / Save As, and make sure to choose “Complete HTML” so you get a copy of the full page). This is important because sometimes mainstream media sources will edit the story or even take it down later, and you need to have a record so you can share your successes online. Don’t rely on it staying available on the internet; back up your work!

Example: “enbridge-theprovince-fooled.html

Also, keep a record of what you’re saving off, and what URL it refers to - for example: enbridge-theprovince-fooled.html

Archive Video and Radio Responses to Your Project

Sometimes video coverage will be available online, or someone will be kind enough to upload it for you to youtube, vimeo, or some other uploading site. If not, there are a few handy ways to record and save streaming video; search Google for a website or a code that will allow you to download the video, and then follow those instructions. If you get radio coverage, the station often offers a podcast that you can download after the piece runs. If none of this works, at least try to record your end of the interaction: so, while you’re giving a radio interview, put your phone on speaker and ask a friend to film you talking to the radio host.

Documenting each step of your action takes some pre-planning, but it makes it infinitely easier to share your work with others afterwards.