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"Committed collector" blog collective delivers high context reporting on the French youth labor unrest

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While many sources are covering the nationwide protest by students, youths and labor against the French government's new youth labor law, the best multimedia reporting on the topic that I've seen is libcom.org/blog - unrest in france from libcom (short for libertarian communists) a "small collective… based in and around London" UK.

Not being familiar with libcom, one could quickly determine that the unrest in france blog was created on the fly to report the contrat première embauche (CPE) or "first employment contract" proposed by Prime Minister Villepin for younger French workers:

libcom.org/blog, has been set up to offer the most comprehensive English-language coverage of the wave of students’ and young people’s protests which has swept France this week.

A small group of us, half of whom have lived in France at one time or another, were talking about the situation on libcom.org/forums a few days ago. We were sharing translations from various sources with each other because there was very little English language coverage available. We then figured that we should really be sharing what we were learning with others and thought that a weblog would be the best format for to deliver such content. The blog allows all of us the chance to post new information as and when we get it, without delay.

Right now we’re covering events nearly 24 hours a day. Members of our team are based in London, Paris, Marseille and Edinburgh, with our Paris correspondents providing personal accounts of things that we otherwise couldn’t pick up on - the mood on the streets and the feeling of how momentum is moving. We are also in touch with young people and students - both for and against the strikes - in France who are sending us reports, including one of the initiators of the occupation of the historic Sorbonne.

This fits my definition of the committed collector; from Value from the fringe: "committed" collectors and investigators:

we treasure good "time sequences" of properly described events as a means of pattern detection, evidence of trend growth or attenuation, changes in underlying assumptions, and the emergence of new players or vulnerabilities. As it usually falls to us to build these time sequences, I am pleased when we find them in the wild.

As a good sequence requires significant research to make it viable, or for that matter any effort or cause not tracked by the shifting "lens of the news" of the major trade and popular press, I have learned to look to the "committed," i.e., those who have a passion to search out and document what would be obscure or tedious work for the rest of us. Oxfam, ACLU, SPLC, FAS, and various UN relief agencies are good examples of what I call "committed" investigators.

I've previously noted that "bloggers are among the most flexible and creative users of an emerging class of products that I call "meta-media" tools"" that are not burdened with the legacy drag of "high street journalists, their masthead papers." So much the better when the blogger assembles a usable time sequence. A balanced "interpretation on the events in a sequence compiled by a committed group" is a bonus but not necessary. Libcom does a useful job of both. From Blog speed, visibility, deception, and counterdeception:

Traditional journalists have rightly commented that some bloggers rush materials on-line without sufficient fact checking and that due process should reign, which means the journalists' due process speed and not the medium's speed. Rubbish says I, these people might as well be Xerxes flogging the sea. Highstreet press has acknowledged the trend by permitting/nudging their serving journalists to put their own blogs…

The scouring, refining, and gathering of competent blogs is time-consuming, but it has become an essential component of our I&W (Indicators & Warning) process. Blogs are often mixes of personal and 'core subject' material that it is maddening at times, but in terms of Asia, Africa, and the Persian littoral, they yield a form of battlefield surveillance outside the control of governments that constrict the mainstream press - and offer an early warning ability that we used on occasion.

English Libertarian communists differentiate themselves from State communists and are refreshingly realistic:

we recognise the limitations of applying [our] ideas and organisational forms to contemporary British society. We emphasise understanding and transforming the social relationships we experience in our everyday lives, whilst still learning from the mistakes and successes of previous working class movements and ideas.

In comparison to the Cold War Communists of the USSR, libcom's forms of class struggle and its embracing of "most, if not all, non-state forms of communism and socialism" made it a rather benign reporter, one capable of balanced reporting on the topic. Unrest in france offers the kind of contextual feeling of French unrest that I get from on-the-ground reporting in Iraq from, say, Riverbend's Baghdad Burning from an Iraqi viewpoint or many of Blackfive's Milblog recommendations, or The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog (SEA-EAT) for coverage of a transnational natural disaster.

In addition to its individual reporting of high street sources and personal views of the rising, Unrest offers a running photojournalism piece called The story so far - a look at the growing revolt against CPE. Unrest does a good job in its definitions as well. Compare its definition of the First Employment Contract to that presented by Wikipedia. Unrest also provides a welcome Glossary "to help explain certain words which cannot be translate perfectly translated or relate to background information."

Unrest in france is a recommended read and an example of good collective blogging that blurs the line between journalist and amateur.

Violent Youths Threaten to Hijack Demonstrations in Paris
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
New York Times
March 30, 2006

French Protests Over Youth Labor Law Spread to 150 Cities and Towns
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
New York Times
March 19, 2006

First Employment Contract
Wikipedia

Gordon Housworth



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