At the beginning of 2022, most people in the United States had never heard of the trucker convoy. It could be argued they didn't spend a lot of time paying attention to Canadian news sources at all. Many of us were just trying to figure out what to believe or had given up on even paying attention to anything that was being reported by the U.S. national media.
One afternoon in the middle of January, my wife pointed out a social media post about the trucker convoy that was going on in Canada. I never gave it another thought until a couple days later when I happened to see a Canadian news report about the trucker convoy protesting bad road conditions. Digging into this one news story has led to a lot of research and time comparing traditional media to the growing number of citizen journalists that are out there.
Before we get started, let me reiterate the groundwork for this series of articles. Discernment 101 is a series of articles that will cover the history, ethics, conditions, and current atmosphere of the media in our culture. In this article I had the opportunity to interview a mechanic from British Columbia who went from a casual YouTuber to frontline citizen journalist starting with one post.
On November 8, 2021, Clyde live streamed to his “Clyde Do Something” YouTube channel a video entitled “New Keycaps - Work Keeb Finale + Piano Repair Talks” that received 72 views. When you go back and look at his previous videos, the amount of views ranged from 60 to 4,200 over the last five years. Over these five years this Canadian mechanic also produced a handful of videos that received many more views. One of these videos reached 47,000 views and another 49,000. This all changed on the 1st of February of this year at a good friend’s birthday party.
“When we went to the bar no one was wearing masks, everyone was not into it and everyone was full of hugs,” Clyde said. That night on TV were new stories of the trucker convoy leaving British Columbia and entering Alberta. “…and I was so blown away at the fact that everyone at the table with me, who I thought I was like, I don’t know what they think or what their ideas are were all on the side of this convoy.” It was then that Clyde realized something, “I am only thinking other people aren't with me on this, because I've been told people aren't with me on this. Everyone was with me on this, everyone in the bar.”
This story is about more than a mechanic in British Columbia who started posting videos to YouTube. It’s about one man who realized what was being broadcast on the news was not an honest representation of the reality of what was going on in his country. This is when Clyde took the step to become a citizen journalist. The next day Clyde posted a video entitled “Trucker Convoy Brings Canada Together - They've got my Support.”
I asked Clyde what his thought process was about taking the first step into citizen journalism. “So I saw what was going on and I have a YouTube channel. Maybe no one will pay attention. Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe I say what I say and nobody cares and nobody listens and it goes nowhere.” Clyde was making videos earlier with varying results; however all of this previous experience prepared him for what was to come. Since that night at the bar, Clyde has received over 7 million views on the news stories he has produced about what's happening in his country.
What’s the hardest part of becoming a citizen journalist? “Getting the guts to get up and do it.” Clyde went on to say, “I think a lot of people are afraid. Maybe I'm not well spoken. Maybe I’ll get a fact wrong. So what should you do? Just be honest. And if you get a fact wrong, just make another video and get the fact right.”
Honesty, or the lack thereof, is one of the reasons this mechanic from British Columbia took on this new role, “It's absolutely the reason I'm doing this. I wouldn't be in this game if CBC did their job. If Global News did their job. If CTV and all these organizations did what they are supposed to do and tell us the truth.”
The lack of adherence to truth is the standard in news and is what’s getting many of these companies in trouble with the audience. So I asked Clyde what he tries to do different. “When I'm reporting on this I do like to set apart when I'm giving my opinion and when I'm stating fact. If you're not separating those two things it's propaganda. If you obscure the line between opinion and fact that's the definition of propaganda,” said Clyde.
When I asked what do the citizens of Canada want, “We want honesty, and we want rule of law, we want debate, and we want democracy in our country.”
How afraid is Clyde about taking a stand for truth? “I'm terrified, we all are but at what cost would I not stand up, at what cost would I sit around and let it happen?” He went on to say it's like the quote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” With the emergency powers the Canadian government has implemented, Clyde and others are at risk of having their bank accounts frozen, insurance canceled and more.
Is this a deterrent for Clyde? “I would love to see an entire army of people doing what I'm doing. The only worry is that people not having that B.S. meter and disseminating the wrong information because I see that online.” Clyde continues, “before all this happened I was feeling a bit lethargic, like I couldn't do anything. Nothing that I would do would make a difference, so why bother. Jumping into this and just being genuine and honest to people and putting my voice out there is affecting things, it is making a difference.”
My final question for Clyde was, “What would you tell someone else who wants to be a citizen journalist who is afraid to take the step you have?” He responded, “Do it, just do it. I mean I'm aspiring to be like Viva Frei, and what's he doing. He's just picking up a camera and talking to it. Do it, just pick up a camera and talk to it. If your video quality sinks, if you're presence on camera isn't that good at first, you'll get better at it. I wasn't great at it, at first I was awkward, stumbling over my words and I'd have to do several takes, but I did it.”
Clyde, the mechanic turn citizen journalist, is just one of the many examples that I’ve found in the last year looking for honest reporting both in the U.S. and Canada. His story is an example of someone who looked at the narrative presented to him by media companies and he compared that narrative with the facts that he had at hand. He then took the time to discern what was truth and what was not. This process has changed Clyde’s perspective and life and he knows he’s doing his best to find the truth with the goal of making his country better.
Geremy Olson grew up in the outdoors. After being burned as a volunteer firefighter, he had to figure out how to teach outdoor skills to his children from a wheelchair while learning to walk. Today he is an inspirational speaker, author, FCA Outdoors ND director, tournament director, video producer, wildfire consultant, and proud father of the owners of Missouri Secrets Tackle & Secrets to Fishing.