I’ve made over 4000 videos, mostly from the war in Donbass, and around 40 have amassed over 200,000 hits. There’s another one set to join that list soon, and there’s a bit of a story behind it.
On June 24th, day after the June 23rd referendum had seen a vote by the UK to leave the EU, I headed down to Downing Street to film, and chat with, the protesters out there, posting several videos from a fairly low-key evening which had been pretty good-natured, a bit quirky.
I went back, posted them up, as my series of crowdfunded Brexit reportage continued. Now, for the most part, I have an idea how videos will do, but once they are out there online, they take on a life of their own. Back in October 2014, in time of war, when I was going to Donetsk airport every day, interviewing Givi, Motorola, I was pretty sure each video would get big hits – although that’s never been the first priority of any of my reportage, similarly Debaltsevo February 2015.
As public interest (sadly) waned in Donbass, a popular video from there would be 10,000, rather than 100,000, generally similar numbers for my Crimea reportage, with the occasional breakthrough. As for this recent Brexit reportage, it started slow, with videos getting a couple of thousand of hits, building a bit of momentum to several thousand.
So, when I uploaded the videos from Whitehall last week, I expected about that. And in the first place it was about that, then, something a little different started to happen with the video interview I made with 19-year-old Hollie Robson (I initially misspelled her name as ‘Holly’ btw). The Daily Express found the videos, made an article out of them, and of all the ones features, it was the Hollie interview which started to rocket.
I felt ok about this initially – of course, as any correspondent, I like to see my work reach a wider audience. But then, on the Express, and my channel, I began to notice some of the comments about Hollie were crossing a line.
The interview with Hollie happened, like all my interviews, I pitched up to her with a camcorder, started asking questions, she was friendly, up for it, we recorded the interview exactly as seen, I explained I was making a video blog, and that was that. Ok, in the interview, a few things Hollie said came out a bit, perhaps, dippy. However, nothing that Hollie said would justify some of the comments made.
Now, on my YouTube channel, as a rule, I never touch the comments, it’s a free speech zone (some get sent to spam automatically, when I have time, I try to go through them, pick them up). However, as I saw more and more hurtful comments about Holly, and her friend contacted me to say this was affecting her, of course I began to worry for her.
Eventually, Hollie posted a comment herself, saying she’d tried to contact me, prompting me then to go to the ‘filtered’ section of my Facebook messages to retrieve these. We’ve chatted, Hollie’s explained how hurt she has been by some of the remarks made, and we’re meeting on Sunday to film another video with her.
I’d like to defend Hollie for the first video – she is a nice, friendly young lady, caught on the stump by a guy who pitched up with a camcorder. If some of her ideas are not always fully articulated, she is, after all, 19. I want to keep the comments section of my YouTube channel an uncensored zone, but I would ask people posting to please observe basic boundaries. Hollie is a young lady, and a nice, open person. Whatever you think of her views, there’s no need to cross the line from expressing opinions and feedback, into personal insult, nastiness. This isn’t a faceless entity we are talking about, this is a young lady who will read your comments, and be adversely affected by them. So, I ask, you, please, express your views, but keep to within acceptable parameters.
I’m sure that Hollie can express herself, and her views better, and I will be more than happy to give her the opportunity to do so. I ask that you wait for this video, watch it, and be fair to Hollie. I would also note that there have been a lot of recent comments defending Hollie, and taking issue with some of the harsher comments about her, and I applaud this decency.
Thank you, Graham