One might think my slice of Carolina would be a pretty quiet news market. One would be wrong. With three TV stations and a 24 hour cable outfit, you can't swing a dead press release without hitting at least a few camera crews. Throw in something as dire as an apartment fire and a battered fleet of TV vans will materialize, their logo'd poles thrusting above the tanker trucks. Inside those vans, reluctant jackals gather their gear before high-stepping over hoses. They are The Photogs: a loose cabal of Ordinary Joe's who convene at the strangest places. Fewer humans make me feel so at home...
Not that it's a love-fest. Sure, the level of cooperation among competing news crews is higher than any of us will ever admit. But those of us who found ourselves pacing around the Holliday Apartments parking lot didn't cut short our morning mirror time just to bump knuckles. We came to wage television. That means more than picking a perch. Yeah, the attached snapshots may show stolid technician types hunched over their tools, but the actual players are rarely so static. No, we're immersed in a quiet game of oneupmanship. Call it Parking Lot Chess, The Awkward Waltz, Four News Crews Battling for A Limited Number of Soundbites. Whatever, just stay out of my shot!
Okay, so we're not that rude. You can't be when you know you'll face off with the same fellas at the next head-on collision, city council debacle or dog in a hole story. So you go easy, take only video, leave only generator fumes. That doesn't mean you twiddle your thumbs while the victims evaporate. Rather, you profile the crowd for the ousted, the stricken, the chatty. If that sounds crass, well, you have no business gathering news. If you did, you'd know that - for better or worse, people WANT to talk. Not everyone, certainly, but I can't think of many news scenes where someone didn't willingly step before the lens and dispense with the details. Haven't had to pay anyone yet. So watch how you judge those overly-logo'd jackals.
Some of my best friends are overly logo'd jackals.