#OnlineVideo as a Catalyst for Good Public Service

In the last few months alone, we have seen major online activism campaigns around some hard-hitting issues, from democracy in Egypt to racial injustice in the Trayvon Martin case.  However, a citizen journalist doesn’t have to be active in high-profile issues to make a difference online.

When it gets down to it, most people care about everyday, quality-of-life concerns happening within their own communities.  Such was the case when New York filmmaker Dean Peterson noticed that passengers were continually tripping on the staircase leaving the 36th Street subway station in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, which had one step that was an inch higher than the other steps.  He shot the above video in the span of one hour.  The video instantly went viral, and has so far garnered thousands of hits onVimeo.

One of the main reasons the video became so popular is because everyone can relate to the passengers’ experiences.  There is always that elevator in your building that doesn’t work or that revolving door that always gets stuck when you are in it.  And you wonder to yourself every time you see the problem, why doesn’t someone fix this?  The power of video here illustrates the staircase in question and how it affects others.  Furthermore, with public transit fares skyrocketing and service cuts nationally during a down economy, frustration with inefficient public services and infrastructure is at an all-time high.  Luckily, the video caught the quick attention of the city’s transit authorities.

From the Huffington Post:

NBC New York reports crews have already been dispatched to fix the perilous staircase. Seth from BeerNation even has a photo of the station completely blocked off while repairs are made.

Commenters on Reddit, where the video was originally posted, called the staircase a “lawsuit waiting to happen.” A phrase that likely strikes horror into the hearts of MTA officials…

But what about the other problem staircases, if there are any, that are tripping passengers in other parts of New York, or anywhere else for that matter?  Maybe Peterson’s initial intent was to get a few laughs out of his video, but he was also doing a great public service for others who use that subway station, and possibly helped to raise the eyebrows of other public transit officials around the country.  This serves to again remind us that citizen journalism around basic, quality-of-life issues happening in our own backyard is just as effective (and important) as getting involved in online campaigning for national or international concerns.  As the saying goes, think globally, act locally.

Posted in Accountability/Transparency, Americas, Video, YouTube and tagged , , , , .

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