WHO is ‘Donnie Vortex’? WHY is he Purging Occupy News Network?
If I have to publish this, it will be with great regret.
For the last two years I have been regularly contributing original content for the Occupy News Network. If you follow this blog, you will know that I co-founded Occupy The Media Billionaires in 2014 and have been on it since that time, producing stuff under the auspices of The Occupied Sun, Daily Wail, The Occupied Argus and The Occupied Liverpool Echo to mention just a few.
Occupy News Network (ONN) is of the largest channels I’ve been contributing to. In spite of a sea of personal troubles, I’ve managed to create a ton of original graphics and video content off my own bat and in collaboration with other ONN contributors. Virtually everything I’ve produced since 2014 has been proudly branded ‘ONN’ and diligently carried the #onn hashtag.
I’ve kept at it in the face of personal adversity because I believe in the principles put forward by the Occupy movement and I’m greatly inspired by the contributors who gave me the keys to ONN. I was honoured to join the network and I’m proud of my contributions to it.
Then last week, I received the following message to my personal inbox from a bloke I’ve never heard of before, calling himself ‘Donnie Vortex’.
Long story short, he’s one of ONN’s co-founders who has been awol for some time. He’s now decided to ‘reboot’ Occupy News Network…by demoting, or removing regular contributors, including the Canary and yours truly.
I’d never heard of ‘Donnie Vortex’ or ‘Pedro’ before, but this is an extremely worrisome turn of events. I did my best to resolve it with him internally. I forewarned him that if we couldn’t sort it out ourselves I would be compelled to publish the following conversation, but his response was…well, you can read it for yourself:
(warning – long convo threads)
- Conversation started July 29
Hey man, I’m Donnie ONN co-founder, I think we’ve chatted before actually, some collaborating for Occupied Sun way back. Sorry we’re removing one or two things from the wall, from Post Satire. It’s not that we don’t like them, in fact all power to you. Just that we’re focusing more on news and articles, just trying to stay true to the original ONN purpose. Satire of a more news themed tone is great though. Occupied Sun has always been spot on though, do you reckon you’d like to be officially part of the site when we relaunch in September?
- August 1
Aug 1You accepted their request.
Ann NarkehGoing Offline For a BitThe internet will have to cope without me while I try to get on top of my parlous financial situation.annnarkehmedia.wordpress.com
Hi Donnie. So I spoke with some of the other regular contributors and they seem to agree with me that Post Satire is eminently appropriate to post via ONN. Am just writing out of courtesy to let you know that I’m planning to continue contributing to the page with Occ Sun, Post Satire and other projects once I’m back in full production mode. Am happy to discuss with you further if you think it’s necessary. Intrigued to hear your plans for ONN reboot.
Will look forward to continuing working with you (and the rest of our disparate cru), perhaps more closely/regularly?
All the best. John. (Ann, whatever…) 😉
Hey mate, thanks for getting in touch. I think you deserve a more complete explanation. For the past few years there hasn’t really been an ONN, the site has been down and the network has been, as you said ‘disparate’. What has survived has been the Facebook wall, live stream channel and the Twitter account, whose current figures are in no small part due to Pedro’s social media outreach, the previous work of the ONN journalists and live streamers, as well as the people’s general enthusiasm for all things Occupy. During this time we’ve been happy for other projects, groups and so on to use the wall and account. The Canary, up until recently, was posting almost all of its content on ONN. That privilege has been revoked, not because we have a problem with The Canary, but because we are gearing up to relaunch the site. This means gradually re-focusing the platforms on ONN related content, and greater care in picking content. At the moment, unfortunately, the wall just looks like a jumble and that may be putting people off. We fully support your project, annarkehmedia, but we cannot have everything we support up on the wall. Pedro and I are committed anarchists and have been for years, however, we’re both in agreement that an anti-organisational obsession has harmed the movement. So ONN will reform as a tighter unit, involving people working together co-operatively. It may include giving direction, and constructive criticism to one another, and at least some discussion of where we’re headed. We truly believe this is what’s necessary to evolve new media to the next stage. ONN 1.0 had a lot of positives, but it was disorganised and often dysfunctional, this eventually led to the site being wound-down a few years back. In a bid to learn from the past, and evolve into something new and better, we’re doing things differently. We do hope that you share our feelings on this, we’d really like to continue working with you. If it doesn’t sound like something you’d be interested in then it might be for the best for us to shake hands and part on good terms. Hope your doing okay, mate. All the best.
Apologies, this is long. I’m gonna have to be brutally honest with you. I don’t know you, so I reached out to some other people in the network and they didn’t give great feedback about you. I’m not going to judge you on their hearsay – you seem like a genuine bloke BUT I can see for myself that you’re not very active on the page yourself….I wasn’t there for the early days of ONN, I don’t know anything about it being ‘wound down’ either – I was stuck at the Brighton camp being a dogsbody in 2011, From my perspective the network has been slowly but steadily growing for at least the 2 years or so that I’ve been involved with it.
I’m not precious about my stuff, but I am precious about democracy and process and I’m uncomfortable with you revoking the Canary’s privileges based on ‘your’ determination that ‘you’re’ going to reboot the whole network in September. I was actively involved in a ‘reboot’ of sorts in 2014 – Occupy Democracy and Occupy The Media Billionaires – who have embraced Occupy’s ‘dispersed’ yet interconnected culture and thereby yielded some significant recent successes against the 1% media monopoly. I don’t know anything about your reboot and neither did the other contributors I’ve discussed this with. This is a problem. I partly agree with you that an ‘anti-organisational obsession has hindered the movement’ – but you must also agree that the opposite is equally true. ie – the network has survived, thrived and evolved by virtue of being ‘disorganised’ or ‘disparate’. The struggle is the same as it always was – how to preserve that which is good from ‘disorganisation’ while making the best of being ‘organised’.
Nobody wants to be the cat herder – organising everybody. Nobody really wants to be ‘organised’ by somebody else either… If you want to take on that role then brilliant! Another ‘reboot’ would be fkn great. Who knows, you you might even get some help with it…(!) Cutting out contributors and ‘picking content’ is not the way though. No way. It can’t be. Highlighting key things, maybe. Reposting urgent/time sensitive data certainly. Not restricting or filtering it unless absolutely necessary (ie: actually inappropriate material).
Occupy News Network is in my opinion one of the best examples of how powerful and resilient a simple idea and a circle of trust and respect can be. It’s also much bigger than the handful of channels you mentioned in my opinion…When we do converge we pull some serious weight on social media. The facebook wall, livestream channel and twitter accounts numbers are not down to one person’s efforts (no offence to Pedro) – those numbers are down to a great many contributors’ efforts on a shitload of affiliated channels worldwide, over a looooong period of time.
You said “we cannot have everything we support up on the wall.” – I fundamentally disagree – surely that’s the point of the page?
It doesn’t put ‘people off’ having a diverse ‘jumble’ of content. If it put people off it wouldn’t be continuing to grow – on the channels ‘we’ manage AND on all the others. On fedbook ONN is up to 17k likes now – up 17% over the last month – video plays up 100% in the same period…these numbers are a tiny part of a much larger network of people of which ONN is a significant hub. It is a good thing that we have a lot of contributors who we can trust to post quality stuff. If you start shutting people down/revoking their rights to post, you risk ruining what works about the network.
In my opinion, the organisational ‘solution’ is not vetting the page’s output, Personally, I’m more interested in establishing better routines and perhaps better comms – ‘bored room’ meetings for contributors who want to collaborate, or ‘organise’ with others. I would join that bored room and do my best to come up with good ideas and stuff…but I would respect those who dont want to be ‘organised’ and let them get on with it their way.
I’m happy to keep this discussion going if you’re finding it constructive. If not, I would really appreciate it if you would reinstate everybody’s privileges you’ve removed and notify them that it was in error. Please? Like I said, I’m not precious about my contribution, I manage a few pages which I can get stuff out on, but I probably wouldn’t have gathered the audience I have if not for the support of the network. I respect your intentions, but I think your method risks too much. Revoking people’s privileges and cherry picking content is a red line for me. I hope you understand.
All comments in solidarity dude. I hope we can arrive at a better understanding of where each other are coming from and together we will be able to help with the next ‘rebooting’ (or augmentation) of ONN.
Thanks for getting in touch John. Everybody attracts criticism from time to time, so it doesn’t bother me too much. Some very personal comments were directed at Pedro when he was trying to keep the site together, and basically made him feel like quitting. I thought that was very unfair. I suppose if there’s one overriding aim we have for the reboot, its to just be able to get on with the job, creatively, with enjoyment and passion, without having to deal with infighting, personal politics and that sort of thing. The enemies have always been the conservatives, the banks, the corps and so on. I’ve seen people forget that many times in the movement as a whole.
It’s ironic if you think about it. You’re ‘rebooting’ cos you want to be able to get on with it, but your method seems to be stopping everybody else from being able to get on with it…(!?) I’ve experienced the perils of infighting, personal politics etc. Most everybody has. Ultimately, everybody just wants to be able to get on with it. I’m supposed to be taking a break from the internet at the moment – really hoping we can unstitch this situation soon? I have a million and one things I need to be doing. Do you take my points from previous message? Have you reinstated the Canary/written to them?
—ANN NARKEH WAS BOOTED FROM THE CHANNEL THE NEXT MORNING—
ONN was one of the biggest channels I made stuff for…and with! wtf!? I’m angry. Not gpnna rant, but need to register that I think you’re being out of order and why. I’ve published tons of stuff over the last couple of years, as The Occupied Sun, The Occupied Argus, The Occupied Liverpool Echo, The Occupied Daily Mail, The Daily Wail…not to mention all the other more direct shit I’ve done as Ann Narkeh and othegrs, livestreaming etc….wtf? I got arrested for streaming to ONN channels just over a year ago. You’ve sought out my personal profile to get in touch with me, so you must have done some background on me, but I know fk all about you. This is bang out of order. The way you’re going about it will alienate any other long time regularish contributors like me. I think you’ve made/are making a mistake. Pissed off. Regards.
Hi Donnie. Apologies if my last was intemperate. This is just a courteous forewarning that in the interests of transparency I’ll be publishing this convo if I don’t hear back from you in say, the next 2 days? I’m trying to believe your intentions are good, but surely you can see that the way ur going about it is bad form?
You cannot reply to this conversation.—–ENDS—–
And then he blocked me.
On the limited data available, it looks like one of three things:
- an effort to turn ONN into profit/wealth acquisition stream
- an ego/identity politics accident
- something more Machiavellian/twisted…
Some people have suggested that it could be to do with the turmoil in the parliamentary Labour party. My output has been particularly critical of the Blairite Chicken Coup lately…especially my new project, Post Satire.
If you’re reading this Donnie, I advise YOU that in order for me to pursue a ‘vendetta’ I would need to know who you are, but I’ve never fucking heard of you or seen you produce any content…You know who I am because I produce a lot of content, hence this is YOUR vendetta NOT mine.
‘Pedro’ has now been in touch from the main Occupy News Network channel, no need to wait to publish this now. I’ll let the thread speak for itself.
Long story short/plot spoiler: he’s ‘taking control of how things work’.
17K people like this including ***** *** and *** friendsNews/Media Website
Ann NarkehThis message is FAO: Donnie Vortex. It wasn’t a threat, it was a statement. I’m not the one with the vendetta, you are. I would prefer we sort this out internally like adults, but I WILL be publishing our convo tomorrow if I don’t hear back from you. That is all.
9:29PM‘Pedro’Hey “******”Pedro hereAnn NarkehHi Pedro.‘Pedro’I understand you might be somewhat upset but I think you are taking this rather personal.this was a decision made in the best interests of ONN and not to demonise or undermine the work and contribution you have been makingI actually really like the Occupied Sun stuff you doso much that I would like to make it integral part of the new siteAnn NarkehThanks, I’m glad you dig the Occupied Sun stuff. On the contrary, it’s my concerns about the whole network, as I made clear in my previous correspondance with ‘Donnie’.(ie – not personal at all)‘Pedro’ok, sorry for assuming that thenwell mate. things need to take a different direction, a better one hopefullydont think we need to reinvent the wheel herewe need some directionand organisationAnn Narkehit’s ok – can be difficult to communictae online – easy to be misunderstand‘Pedro’I am an anarchistAnn NarkehLike I said to Donnie, I agree on that point, mostly…‘Pedro’I do my best to follow it s principlesAnn Narkehbut the way he’s gone about it is destructive – and bang out of order.‘Pedro’but dont think anarchism is about anyone doing what they likewith freedom comes responsabilityAnn NarkehThis is a deep conversation.‘Pedro’and the responsability is to organise properly ONN so it worksAnn Narkeh*becoming‘Pedro’yehAnn Narkeh^^agree re: responsibility‘Pedro’not sure what Donnie told you to be honestAnn NarkehI don;t want to get into a broad debate about the nature of anarchism at this pointshall I forward the convo?‘Pedro’me neitherAnn NarkehI have it scheduled to publish in a blog tomorrow as it stands….‘Pedro’I am sure we would be preaching to the converted anywayAnn Narkehwould really rather not have tobut as it stands it just looks like sabotage to me‘Pedro’sabotage of what? We simply asked you not to post, the Satire stuffAnn Narkeh(ie i would rather not have to publish it)‘Pedro’which I think its fair enoughyou say this is not personal but seems like itwhat did Donnie say to you?Ann NarkehIt’s not that simple. He’s removed me from the page. Ditto the Canary.Apparently he’s demoted someone else who would prefer to remain nameless at this point.‘Pedro’ha thatwell, clarification is neededAnn NarkehIt was when he singled out the Canary that alarm bells started ringing and I thought I should talk to some people…‘Pedro’being banned is not actually the caseAnn Narkehk. Shall I post thread here, or elsewhere?‘Pedro’firstI was the one that suspended youyesthat is the correct wordingbecause I could see another satire postafter we asked not toAnn Narkehwell that hasn’t been articulated at all.‘Pedro’nowdoes this mean you are blocked?of course notAnn NarkehI have been removedDonnie said that he’s also removed the Canaryone other person I know said they have been demoted‘Pedro’I removed the CanaryAnn Narkehright.‘Pedro’alsoAnn Narkehshall I forward you the thread with Donnie. It highlights my concerns about what you are doing.‘Pedro’I removed anyone that hasnt posted anything on the page for at least 2 months2 people came backand asked whyAnn NarkehI’ve posted TONS in the last two YEARS‘Pedro’I explained whythey asked to be reinstatedand I dont soon the condition they actually make a bit of an effortwhich I think its fair enoughbut that was not the reason in your casethe reason was that you were asked, according to Donnie a few days agoto stop postingthe satire stuffand there was one post yesterdayAnn Narkehthat’s not how the convo went‘Pedro’I was expecting you to be in touch at some pointso we can talk this overAnn NarkehI’m digging out the whole blog I’ve scheduled to post tomorrow for your edification.‘Pedro’okAnn NarkehIt’s got a tight looking graphic with the clickbait headline: ‘BREAKING’ NEWS – Occupy News Network HACKED!to clarify – I’d really rather NOT have to publish it.
—REPOSTED BLOG AS WAS—‘Pedro’okbefore I set out to read thisand I read already the first sentenceone important clarificationDonnie as no fault in thishe was the messengeras he speaks better englishrather writes better englishwe thought it would be a better idea for him be the one to contact you and not meas I could be misunderstoodalso, not much of a diplomat to be honestthere is a saying that not sure if it applies in this casedont shoot the messengerwell, I am the one that approached Donnie for a re-launchas me and him had an important contribution together for a good period of timebut that is allONN is open stillthis is not a coupa hackor anythingAnn NarkehI got the impression that diplomacy’s not really in his skillset.‘Pedro’we want people to be on boardAnn Narkehwell it doesn;t look like that from here…‘Pedro’well, possibly notbut put yourself in my positionpleasefor a long time I managed onn with tight controlsit was too muchdidnt workAnn Narkehhas pissed off and/or alienated at least four other regular contributors that I’m aware of – not including me…‘Pedro’so people got pissed offso I said to Obiyou take it over from hereI will have no morewaited to see if that would workwell, content needs to be properly managedthere are specific guidelines on the pagenot sure if you read themAnn Narkehfrom my perspective it has continued to work – because it had so many contributors, contributing so much diverse contentI read them.did you read the thread above^^^felt like you just skimmed the first couple of lines and got stuck into defending your position.‘Pedro’would be good if you could.i don’t wanna have to publish this tomorrow.‘Pedro’okjust finished readinglongAnn Narkehsorry‘Pedro’but read it with caredont worryok mate. as I said, its unfortunate you are singling out Donnie as the main person to start thisI understand whybecause he is the messangerand I feel i prob should have approached you myselfAnn Narkehlook man‘Pedro’I am totally with you about the contributions and value of the networkAnn NarkehI’ve got better things to be spending my time doing‘Pedro’and surely I take no credit at all for what as been done in the last 2 yearsAnn Narkehthis has taken a couple of days of figuring out who Donnie is/what’s going on.‘Pedro’but the reality is, channels like the canary are massive, for exampleAnn NarkehThe way I see it, this is gonna be resolved one of two ways‘Pedro’they did this being the exact opposite of what you are reiteratingso if I am going to be backI want to control how things workI have 2 childrenone being born now in a couple of weeksI work as a developerdont like false modesties herebut if we are going to have a good websiteAnn Narkeheither a public statement/apology from you, Donnie and whoever else (including call to arms for better comms)? Or I’m gonna have to publish all that^^^ and all of this convo tomorrow. I’ve made it clear which way I’d prefer it to go, but I don’t have the time or will to keep debating your control issues. I know becoming a father can drive people a bit nuts, but this is too much. You’re destroying (destoryed) what was left of this hub of network.‘Pedro’will be because of meunless someone else joins on that fieldwould be happyAnn Narkehdude…‘Pedro’lets face itboth of us have better things to doI have been called a fascist beforeand I quitwhen that happenAnn Narkehsrsly. ‘I’m an anarchist’. ‘I want to control how things work’.‘Pedro’because I had a vision about ONNAnn Narkehfierce juxtaposition right there m8look, I have a vision too‘Pedro’and this vision is to pursue the truthAnn Narkehyes‘Pedro’with factual infoAnn Narkehnot to censor your allies‘Pedro’I am sorry but content needs tighter controlif you go backAnn Narkehwow‘Pedro’in historyand read the content linkscontentAnn NarkehI’m proud of my contributions‘Pedro’you see there is a lot of stuff is speculationnot prop source etcAnn Narkehwow‘Pedro’what? not true?Ann NarkehEverything I’ve posted to the page was original‘Pedro’do you want to go through the trouble of looking at stream?Ann Narkehand relevant/currentI have done‘Pedro’for last 4 months like I did?yes!you!Ann NarkehI’ve checked it nearly every day for the last two years‘Pedro’in didAnn Narkehdude‘Pedro’but I am not talking abou tyouthe prob is not youAnn Narkehyou/donnie have removed me from the page‘Pedro’hence why I didnt remove you in the first batchAnn Narkeh‘the first batch’wow‘Pedro’suspendedwell, you were aware of the situation about Satire stuff rightyou still posted itAnn NarkehI spoke to the only other people I know in the network.‘Pedro’but now we are talkingwell, we spoke before I believeAnn Narkehtheir advice was to ignore Donnie, that he was out of line.Ann Narkehno, I’ve never spoken with you.before now.‘Pedro’So who is AnarkemediaI am confusdwell, matethis is the situationyou can publish that if you wantI would happy repost it on ONNfor the sake of clarityand I will explain on top of the post, my side of the storybecause you talk about transparencyAnn NarkehWhy not explain it to me now?‘Pedro’but transparency wont be complete till we have both sidesI just didAnn NarkehAvoid the whole drama?‘Pedro’Donnie was the messengerAnn Narkeh‘You want to control how things work’‘Pedro’I highlighted to himabout the satireand he gave is opinionyesI am alreadyso, the plan is simpleONN 2.0 will be differentopen to people to joinand collaboratebut under certain conditionsAnn Narkehoh wow‘Pedro’those that are not onboard are free to leavethose that are on boardare welcomeI have no time to lose, my time is preciousAnn Narkehyh, I know the feeling…
Good luck ‘controlling the network you’ve removed everybody from ‘Pedro’.
The network is bigger than Donnie, Pedro and the channels they have purged. It’s a shame, because ONN was a significant hub, but the broader network WILL prevail in spite of him and his ilk.
I have published these conversations with great regret, in the interests of transparency.
Please share with anybody who may be interested or affected, cheers.