Watch This Guy’s Brilliant Anti-fraking Demo

This is the most straight-forward and powerful video I’ve seen in awhile.

It’s from a hearing on shipping fracking wastewater to a well in Sioux County Nebraska.

The lack of slickness helps. The crappy camerawork adds to the authenticity. I’d like my friends at various non-profits and activists to watch this to see what was done right.

  • The speaker knew his audience. Not only the commissioners, but the people in the room and in the community. He was not an outsider. He looked like them, dressed like them and talked like them.
  • He addressed the concerns of both sides before his demo
  • He made a powerful visual case with common items people knew
  • He made an emotional appeal and had an intellectual back up. This is for the people who say they only decide based on “facts,” to rationalize their emotional decision.

So many great things in one short video, and I’m glad that Bold Nebraska used it to get people to sign their petition, Don’t Frak our Water.

After I watched the video, I read some comments at Reddit and in the YouTube section. I searched Google News to see how the story got picked up by the local and national media.

What was fascinating to me was to see all the methods that the oil and gas companies used to get their way. The local media pointed out a few of the methods before hand. One paper took to the opinion pages to call out the other methods. But what I also want to point out is how successful actions like this still get pushed back without some additional media strategic thinking.

The old line, “They are playing chess while we play checkers.” comes to mind. But since my 7 year old nephew destroys me at chess, “The horsie moves in an L Uncle Spocko!” and I haven’t played checkers for 23 years, instead I’ll say,

“They are writing a long form TV show, while we are writing a weekly episodic drama, with stand alone episodes, with no character or season arcs.”

The take away? Even a kick ass viral video with popular support can be deflected because of how corporations use the media’s own methods and journalist’s own self identification to dilute powerful actions and videos.

I recently was advising a friend about a damning piece of email from a public official. I implored her to think 3 steps ahead of the announcement before sending it out to the media.

MSM attempt to tell the back story of viral media but often in the process activists are discredited. Companies know this, that is why they have all their very serious experts, lawyers and economists lined up for the press.

The press can say they are telling “both sides” but really they are making sure that the company under attack gets a second or third bite at the messaging apple.

I told my friend the importance of getting the last word in on a story. “Be sure to ask to comment on the response of the official!” I implored her with my human emotion. Meanwhile my Vulcan side envisioned and prepped for the next scene.

What was also interesting was how Greg Awtry, the publisher of the closest big paper, the Star-Herald, responded. He knows his audience too, instead of attacking the oil and gas corporations for rigging the game or pressuring the governor to pack the Nebraska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission with oil men, he blames government. Yes, the procedural tricks to keep the hearings off the record, and not subject to popular control are ‘government,’ but it takes some smart lobbyists to get those laws passed in the first place.

But at least he can say he was outraged. This is western Nebraska and the “get government out of my face,” is strong. He can’t acknowledge the role of government in protecting people, even when they are the best bet to stop the corporate destruction of the people’s water supply.

What I’m looking forward to is just how this viral video can be used beyond the first pop, beyond the media’s “on the other hand” stories.

Right now the lobbyists are circling the money wagons to explain to the politicians why they should ignore the public and can’t stop this anyway.

Powerful lobbyists know how to work the media, the media know how to enhance or discredit a group’s action.

I try to remind people that the media like to say, “We don’t have a “side.” They will say, “We side with the truth!” It’s a good line, but as we have seen time and time again, just having the facts doesn’t mean that the MSM will cover the story the way you think they should.

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