A Little Company at the Crime Tape Can Be a Good Thing...
Long ago a friend outside the business asked me how I reacted when a competing news crew pulled up on whatever 'news scene' I was covering.
When I told him that nine times out of ten I was grateful for the company, he seemed disappointed. He'd seen too many made-for-TV movies, I'm guessing - the kind where competing news crews treat each other like comic book super villains. I explained to him that when you're the poor schmuck picked to baby-sit the courthouse / train wreck / body search all day, a little company can be a good thing.
In fact, I've had some of the most bizarre and enjoyable field encounters with employees of rival TV stations... be it poker games in the drowning-scene sat truck, practical jokes at the tornado-strewn trailer park or hushed information swaps at the triple-homicide crime tape. Hey, I'm all for eating the other guy's lunch - but in the field, collusion with the enemy is sometimes useful.
That is of course, barring any and all personality disputes. Our business is rife with pompous fools and over-groomed blowhards, and it doesn't take very long for members of the local media to recognize who the righteous jerks are. Some bone-head pulling up late to a gang-bang interview brandishing a microphone flag and an attitude are a natural occurrence in the news gathering wildlife. Natural selection is a wonderful thing.
However, most news people I come into contact with are clever, astute and interesting. We are, as a breed, wary observers of life with a low threshold for bullshit and a penchant for cynicism. I like that. And unless the person at the tripod beside me is a total worm, I'm prone to converse. I've made far more friends than enemies doing so, and I've learned lots in the process.
Is that so wrong?