In my report on the giant Texas rally for life and the Feminist Vigilante Gang counter-protest, I highlighted the poor behavior of a team of Austin Catholic New Media correspondents:
A team who claimed to represent Austin Catholic New Media were aggressively rude. Armed with a professional camera rig and microphone (with an ACNM logo), they badgered each member of the Feminist Vigilante Gang for an interview. They simply would not take no for an answer. Getting into each activist’s personal space and pushing the microphone close to their face, they’d angrily insist on an interview and demand to know why the group was masked and why they wouldn’t speak with them. Even polite refusal seemed only to goad them on — it was clear to me that they were trying to orchestrate a confrontation.
Oddly, when I opened a dialogue with ACNM they seemed to know neither the people involved nor their equipment. I later heard from ACNM’s Jason Elizondo, who said:
Thanks for bringing the interview issues to our attention. We were able to determine that the cameraman was one of our volunteers who has done filming for us in the past. We are still trying to figure out who the “reporter” was because honestly we don’t have reporters. I’m not sure what footage they were trying to get or why they were using our art, but we are working to find out.
If you happen to know the person who was being interviewed please extend our apologies and let them know that we are working to resolve the issue.
After my article published, I sent the link to Jason and asked him for more information on the incident. I suspected the story would turn out to be a simple one, but given our encounter with an apparent provocateur that same afternoon it seemed worth following up.
Kit O’Connell: Have you found out anything more since last we spoke? I’d like to be able to update my readers with what really happened.
Jason Elizondo, ACNM: We’ve handled the matter internally and are learning as we grow as an organization. I want to thank you as well for continuing to keep me up to date on your side of things. I know we don’t see eye to eye on all matters but it’s important to me that everyone is shown respect in these divisive matters.
Kit: Can you shed any light on to what occurred? There has actually been a fair amount of speculation and theorizing both online and in person about this encounter, and I’d like to clear the air with a followup to my story so that my readers know what really happened at least in general terms. Was the equipment including the microphone with the ACNM logo official ACNM property? Who were the camera man and “reporter” (at least in a general sense, i.e. their role in your organization if any)?
ACNM: Thanks again for reaching out.
Honestly there’s no great conspiracy or anything grand to speak of. It was simply a breakdown in communication. The film team was there in an official capacity but the young lady you photographed was not one our normal contributors, that’s why I didn’t recognize her. The equipment was also new via another new contributor, again nothing really to speak of other then the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing.
We are a young organization, we’ll make mistakes and learn from them as we go forward. Again I extend my apologies to anyone who might have been offended and I hope to be able to speak with you more in person as I’m sure our paths will cross again.
I appreciate Jason’s apology on behalf of his team and especially his willingness to communicate with me so openly on this matter. For more, here’s a recent post on ACNM’s new equipment and their goals.