Thursday, June 26, 2008

Refraining from Chicanery

What happens when a veteran TV news shooter wanders into a newspaper newsroom? Culture Shock! Just ask Cyndy Green - who touches on the subject in a recent News Videographer post:
Every time I’ve been in there I get the feeling I’m entering a library: none of the occasional rowdiness of broadcasting. Reporters quietly talking on phones or typing. Some hushed discussions. But very open and friendly (once they got over the fact I used to be in “that other” news business…).
The lady’s right. Whenever I walk into the office space of a certain local newspaper, I’m taken aback by the eerie calm. No scanners burping cop-talk. No TV’s blaring at every corner. No cluster of photogs doing lame improv. No interns slathered in scary mascara. No disembodied voices screaming for teases. Instead, frowning faces glare at computer monitors, hunched figures mutter into telephones as the hum of overhead lights drown out anyand all semblance of hubbub. “This is a newsroom?” I think, as I pause at the entrance, waiting for someone, anyone to notice the sweaty stranger in the tropical shirt who just let himself in. No one ever does, but as I skulk off to where I'm going I still feel like a circus clown at the DMV. Maybe it’s the floppy shoes.

Or maybe I’m just a broadcaster at heart - one who’s glad he conned his way into a tiny CBS affiliate instead of bum-rushing the local paper. But I’m a lover of the written word as well and despite my propensity for 24/7 internet, I still take the daily paper. Sometimes I even read it! When I do, I’m struck by the depth of the coverage, for the stories featured within often revolve around something I shot the day before - or even more often- something I’m about to. That smacks of collusion I know, but it’s really more of an unspoken pact; one in which TV folk scour the headlines for stories each morning as print reporters monitor the evening news. You’d think that would make us conspirators of sorts, but alas, secret handshakes are rarely shared. Until now...

As the unquenchable internet swallows all other data delivery platforms, ink-stained wretches and TV sleaze are meeting in the middle. Therein lies one hell of a sitcom premise I feel, but in reality the patter isn’t so scripted, the laughter not so freshly canned. Instead, ill will abounds, with both factions accusing the other of spray painting the Fourth Estate. Occasionally the discourse is quite high-minded, but most days it plays out like those annoying Alltell spots, you know - the one where the D&D geeks curse the very existence of Chad - apparent arbiter of cell-phone bliss. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to party with those guys either. Neither would I want to set up career camp at the newspaper offices I’ve visited. Not until they install a disco ball or mechanical bull, anyway.


Anonymous said...

Since when are TV newsrooms OCCASIONALLY rowdy? More like REGULARLY if you ask me. Then one did. I'll go back to my tent now.

Rosenblum said...

We have plunked down tv cameras in the middle of a newspaper newsroom, ripping out a dozen desks to do so. The writers look stricken, as though the barbarians have arrived. Perhaps they have.

turdpolisher said...

You've done it again, Stew. Nicely put. Now keep your head down and coast through the rest of the day.

Angela Grant said...

Did anyone bother to go check out the photo department of the newsroom?

For most of the day it's completely dead. But from about 2-4 p.m. when everyone is arriving to turn in assignments, switch gears to their next assignments, etc ... It's loud as a bar!

Can't even hear yourself think. At least MY photo dept. is like that.

We also place many humorous photos etc. on our wall. For example, one colleague got creamed by a lady basketball player and the other photog covering the event documented the destruction with a series of three before, during and after shots. Haha!

cyndy green said...

What I didn't post was that our photog's "lounge" (aka gear room) was the quiet spot...photogs went there to eat and have quiet discussions.

mangler said...

can't say that my news room is quiet, scanners squelching at both ends, heads bobbin up, and most reporters that i know aren't that low key on the phone.

oh, and lets ride bikes!