Sunday, May 09, 2010

Clash of the Scavengers

Thanks to realistic movies like Up Close and Personal, Hero and Anchorman, the general public has a pretty good idea how news crews act. We go live(!) without any wires, talk over the sound we're recording and regularly challenge each others to knife fights. Okay, not really. Truth is, it's a small business, one rife with incest and peppered with assholes. Still, most people are pretty decent - regardless of what side of the glass they're on. I'm not saying every sat truck encampment is a Love-In, but for the most part, folks get along.

Sam ChampionWhich is why a recent riff between a FOX affiliate and an ABC crew is so perplexing. It happened in the Sooner State. With deadly tornadoes barely a memory, TV crews from near and far descended on the damage in and around Oklahoma City. Having not been there since the turn of the Century, I couldn't tell you the lay of the land (flat, as I remember). But it seems pockets of debris were hard to come by, as a crew from nearby KOKH-TV stormed a Good Morning America live shot, catching the normally chiseled Sam Champion looking a little confused around the edges. After pushing his clipboard into frame, Sam can be seen addressing the local lenslinger (who no doubt was just following orders)...

"You know where you're supposed to be ... so be there. It's alright ... it's all good ... so just be there."

AWK-weeeerd! Now, trampling over a visiting crew's newly secured spot isn't illegal. In fact, the sharply swung elbow is a sanctioned reflex of the body photog. But pointing a live lens at the other guy's talent is damn near taboo and as photographer John Biebrich found out, a great way to get stink-eye from a weather guy. While no mannequins were harmed (network OR local) in the making of this clip, it has gone viral - with web viewers weighing in with great vigor on the Network Bigfoot Syndrome, the ravages of live TV and the veracity of Chamipon's cheekbones. There's even a detailed post-mortem on display at - where most agree the network guys were for once, in the right.

Me, I can't help but think about a certain morning several weeks ago, when I was setting up an early morning live shot along a tornado-damaged patch of High Point. Soon after I strung up my lights, camera and tripod, a sat truck hired by ABC materialized. The driver stopped to chat, but soon drove past to a badly -damaged gas station in the distance. There, they broke out enough HMI lights to make that broken Citgo visible from the space station. It was so much light I was tempted to horn in on their cinema, but my cable wouldn't reach and besides, three minivans lay on their side just a few feet away. In other words, there was plenty of eye candy to go around, so I didn't have to risk life, limb and logo by wading into someone else's fray...

It's just bad form.


turdpolisher said...

i gotta agree with the photog nation on this once. sam and his bunch had already pissed on this scene. it was theirs. if you're gonna horn in on their lights, you gotta keep their peeps out of it.

Anonymous said...

I agree it was bad form, but the shooter was live, and was being talked into the other area by his talent. I'd be interested to know if they'd worked this out ahead, or if she just brought him on over.

Either way, it was also bad form for Champion to hold up the notebook. Would have looked much more professional to have just stepped aside and let them be, then discussed it later.