Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No Soundbites for You!

Outta my Presser!While I've never been ejected from a presser, I've damn sure fantasized about it. Truth is, I'd rather pass a Rubik's Cube than attend one more semi-circled summit, for it seldom makes for acceptable television. That's why TV news crews shift from foot to foot as newspaper reporters (remember those?) scribbles podium quotes into their skinny notebooks. That may cut it in Inkville, but in Television we need first-person, one-on-one interviews, preferably with a 3-D logo spinning in the corner. So...we wait until the dogs and ponies have been packed away, lead the speaker away from the glowing picture window the PR flack insisted he stand in front of, and ask the CEO slash Sheriff slash American Idol judge just what they meant when they recited that stuff from the press release. Like I said, it rarely illicits a gripping response, but it's better than the swill they foist upon the ink stained set from the safety of their lectern.

I'm reminded of one press conference from a few years back - that turned out not to be a presser at all. The details are sketchy, but I remember a reporter and I being dispatched with the utmost haste to a press conference already in progress. Seems the good folk down at the County School Bus office had a few things they wanted to share about some of their driver's records. Juicy stuff for a Tuesday morning, even if my on-air partner and I had no idea what precipitated the school bus office's newfound transparency. By the time we arrived we still didn't know, but upon dragging our gear into the small conference room, we sensed something was not as it should be. Lights. Way too many of them for a midday press conference, all shining on two separate camera crews from the same competing station. At the center of all that light, a PR lady sat frozen in fear as Channel X's investigate reporter thrust documents in her face. This was no press conference - this was a sting! No doubt the culmination of a month long investigation, Channel X was going in for the kill and somehow el Ocho caught wind. Check Please!

After a few minutes of eyelid morse-code, my reporter and I determined we were, in effect, crashing a deposition. To their credit the 'X On Your Side' crew(s) barely looked up, but from the amount of scrim they'd used on their keylight and the way the potted ferns were so expertly placed over the victim, er - PR lady's left shoulder, we felt like we'd bum-rushed a distant relative's kid's intervention. AWK-ward! After jotting down a few notes, my reporter and I did the only honorable thing we could do: we slunk out of there like the greedy vermin we were. Oddly enough the suits didn't make us turn that story that day, though someone a few tax brackets above me started making phone calls to the school bus office on behalf of El Ocho. As for me, I watched Channel X that night, learned some really skeevy things about certain bus drivers and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw no signs of myself coming, gawking or going...

I just feel bad about all those shadow puppets.

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