Updated: Jan 28
Posted on October 29, 2020by Michael Null
With a viewer count of over 60,000, C.J. Halliburton, better known as CJTV, kept his live-stream going as the chaos erupted in Kenosha after the shooting of Jacob Blake. He captured the altercation between Kyle Rittenhouse and protesters along with the shootings.
“I make it halfway up the block, and I see Kyle Rittenhouse, with a rifle, running towards me,” said C.J. “Then I hear people say ‘get him, get him’ with fists clenched ready to attack him. Sure enough, one got shot in the chest, and another young man named Gaige got shot in the arm.”
C.J Halliburton, otherwise known as CJTV, in front of Frank’s Diner in Kenosha. Photo from: CJTV Media
C.J. Halliburton, from Seattle, Washington, is just one of the new faces of independent journalism and part of the rise of live-streaming these protests. From Seattle to Kenosha to D.C., his goal is to broadcast what he sees and what is actually happening in the world.
“When I started seeing the essence of the livestream, for me, it’s 100% live,” said C.J. “Granted, there’s only so much time I can be on stream, but I’ll do five hour streams or four hour streams. Your typical news story is only four-to-five minutes.”
This type of documentation isn’t new, but the methods in which it’s done are completely different. According to David Allen, a professor of journalism at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, live-footage journalism can be traced back to car chases and such. The popularity centered around live-streaming is from people’s own curiosity and anticipation about what is really happening, according to all.
“People are fascinated by these kinds of things, because nobody knows what’s going to happen,” said Allen. “A wonderful example of that would be going back to the OJ Simpson car chase, where everybody was tuned in not knowing what would happen next.”
Another example, according to Allen, would be the infamous case of Robert B. Dwyer, a Republican politician who committed suicide on live television.
While the Rittenhouse shooting differs from Dwyer’s suicide seen on television, these types of events show everything uncut and untampered, which, according to C.J., is what he wants for his viewers.
“I think it’s important that we let people see things and experience this for themselves,” said C.J. “People are looking for more interactivity and more information on what’s really going on.”
Photo from the Kenosha protests on August 25th. Photo by: Richard Null
According to C.J., what drove him to create his own platform was the way traditional media was covering the unrest in his home city of Seattle. The narratives that were being pushed didn’t reflect the experiences that he was seeing with his own eyes, and he began to notice how some media outlets “don’t cover the full story.”
“The narrative that was pitched in mainstream media was pitching fear and hysteria,” said C.J. “The reality was far from it, but people now have the chance to interact and witness the real story.”
With nothing but just his phone and camera, C.J. has built a community where people can ask questions and have discussions in real time while watching everything as it happens from their own device.
Jessica McBride, a senior lecturer of journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, considers these streamers the new age “war photographers” and commends their ability to get unfiltered, reliable information to the public, especially in Kenosha.
“When I was reporting in Kenosha, what surprised me was I didn’t see much coverage from traditional media,” said McBride. “Although the trend raises a lot of questions for what media is, I think they were doing a public service by broadcasting.”
However, Allen has a different take on the method of live-streaming. According to him, the perspective of what a person is filming and how a person is filming plays into the message the live-streamer is trying to get across, even if it is a no-cut livestream.
“Perspective matters, right,” said Allen. “One of the mistakes that people often make is, when viewing media, they look at a video and think ‘Oh, I know what the truth is.’ When you change the perspective or change the angle, the story changes as well.”
Along with live-streaming journalism, C.J. wants to evolve his brand into something that connects the world through this new form of interactive media. Even with tensions being relatively quiet now, his most recent venture was getting involved in a 35-mile march from Kenosha to Milwaukee, with his camera recording every bit.
“I get anxiety when I’m not actively doing pieces, when I’m not actively involved, when I’m not tuned into what’s happening around me.” said C.J. “I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to do with the position I’m in.”