If you’re searching for a microcosm of the Fourth Estate, look no further than the cluster of cameras around your average candidate. Was a time all the players were easily identifiable… Guy with the vest fetish fondling his tripod? TV Shooter. Lady with the skinny notebook and the sensible shoes? Newspaper. Dude with the white man’s ’fro and oversized microphone flag? Ray-di-o! Hot chick with the megawatt smile and scary eyes? Hey, who let the weather bunny in? Anyway, what I’m trying to say is the taxonomy of your garden variety press scrum ain’t as simple as it used to be. I blame Al Gore, who should be ashamed of stealing all that internet-inventing glory from rightful web originator Sir Tim Berners-Lee (Thanks, Ed Cone!). Whereas media members used to be as easily identifiable as zebras in the exhibit cage, any further zoological metaphors are amn near extinct, thanks to a great mingling of the species.
Just ask Janine Anderson. A reporter at The Racine Journal Times, she - like a lot of newspaper employees - is being forced to learn video under less than pristine conditions. Recently, a superior of hers shoved a Canon XH-A1 in her hands and sent her to a Hillary Clinton campaign stop. Talk about being thrown to the wolves! See, most times your local camera cluster is fairly affable - a loose network of competitors who work together more than they’d ever admit. Not everyone’s Mr. Rogers, but if a light blows, a battery dies or a tripod leg goes limp, more times than not there’s some local schlub happy to help. But a Presidential campaign stop? You’re talking Secret Service agents, zombie-like volunteers and every broadcast blowhard from the greater tri-state googolplex. Throw in the ever indignant traveling press corps and you got the makings of a first class monkey-hump. I know guys with TV station logos tattooed on their souls I wouldn’t send to that circus…
But to her credit, Janine Anderson - and the skinny lens she dragged into battle - emerged unscathed - partly due to the assistance of some considerate TV folk. I know, I know cats and canines living together, right? Maybe back when Snoopy was laying on the roof, but in 2008 it’s a whole new dogfight and I’m not talkin’ Michael Vick on a bender. No, if anything I’m here to celebrate the level of cooperation that fell over this presidential scrum - a not too common occurrence in an industry where a group interview is still lovingly referred to as a ’gangbang’. In Janine’s own rollicking blog entry, she touches on just a few nuances of covering assholes with glass. Hopefully she came away with a new appreciation for the calisthenic strain of journalism that is moving picture news. As for my own surly breed, here’s hoping we welcome these infidels to the mix with a minimum of balderdash. They’re here to stay, I’m afraid and - shot-blocking jackholes aside - don’t automatically deserve our wrath So, be nice, would ya?
If it helps, just pretend you’re a Southerner: Be sweet as Iced Tea to their face and talk smack about ‘em later. Works for us!