The first few days were … interesting. The top guys were all Russian, but most of my co-workers were American. Some colleagues warned me that I’d need to let go of any preconceived notions and journalistic principles. I wasn’t exactly sure what they meant.
It was during this first week that the Occupy Wall Street movement began with a group of protesters in New York’s Zuccotti Park. The day after the demonstration started, the Russian news director announced at our morning meeting that this was the top story and we would take it on with full force. It was Occupy all day, every day, from coast to coast.
I spent a lot of time interviewing Occupy protestors in D.C.’s McPherson Square. Some had legitimate grievances: the rising role of money in politics, frustration over taxpayers footing the bill for bailing out big banks and crippling student-loan debt. But others were just hippies who were camping out, barefoot and beating drums, and had jumped at the opportunity to come together in solidarity against The Man.
Of course the coverage made the United States look terrible. Video of outraged protesters, heavy-handed police and tents pitched in parks portrayed America as a country in the midst of a popular uprising—it was the beginning of the inevitable decline of a capitalistic world power.
Occupy was our lead story for weeks and then months, even as the number of protesters dwindled and tents cleared out. We sucked that story completely dry.
Eventually, it was accepted that a revolution was not upon us.
Meanwhile, in Moscow thousands of demonstrators took to the streets protesting alleged election fraud and corruption, with most of their outrage directed at Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who announced his intention to run for president for a third term. There was little, if any, talk in our newsroom or on our newscasts of the dissent in Russia.