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Friday, July 23, 2004

Stand-by Unit 10: the Rules…
POV of a Chicago Photojournalist

mesub.jpg
Hard Hats were served up at this location
in lieu of food. This is an acceptable substitute and will make
us smile even if we have to give them back…

Just like any other job, ENG (Electronic News Gathering) has an individual Corporate Culture.

Rule #1 in Mini-Cam (TV Video Photography) is: Where’s the Bathroom?

Once you land on a scene of any duration – unless it’s a whale of a *breaker* – one is immediately magnetized to the location of the *head*. Deadline driven jobs can be made or broken by a bladder, I kid you not! It’s a guarentee that your own Mother Nature will call you OUT just when you’re being CHIRPED by your producer for a 30 sec Stand-by.

It is possibly the only job where talking on your cell in the Bathroom is not only not impolite, but a Bottom Line requirement. Just don’t drop it in the bowl like some of my ilk – this makes the Boss really nervous at a time adrenalin cocktails are already being served.

Rule #2 in Mini-Cam is: Where’s the Food?

Many of the events of duration one could be assigned to offer the possiblity of the Graze. Now this is usually an inclusive option – but sometimes is at the discretion of the Host – as in never just sit down at an empty place at a set table, joining a Lunch-in-Progress, and try to blend in. However, whenever there is a Buffet, all rules are suspended.

Sometimes the Host will provide a keen spread, like de facto Senate candidate Jack Ryan’s folk, who laid out nice cookies and roll sandwiches for the media but quickly lost points when said rolls were discovered to contain an unidentifiable *meat substitute* loaf product. This coupled with the natural green color of the rolling tortilla wrapper really put people (especially the cameraFolk) into a tailspin. Now I’m won’t go On the Record and say the Carnivore Instinct is the norm with News Gatherers but you can do the Math…

If any Buffet is within 100 feet of any working press, eventually they will drift over and help themselves.

Such was the case yesterday for me when I was out in Glenview with the Dubya entourage. Senor Arbruto was in the area for a Self-Serve SHoutOUt with the EMS Departments of any locality in the Region. This included the entire gamut of Emergency Service Workers and was a site to behold.

It was also catered.

After the speeches were over, I drifted into an area where there was considerable activity going on. My Mother OUtlet was serving up the event coverage internationally and the entire White House Press Corps (YES! That’s what they call themselves!) was in tow with cameras, laptops and ATTITUDE! Think West Wing cocky dialogue to the max with really bad haircuts…

SO here I was with about a cup of mixed green salad on my plate, winding down mentally from a grueling afternoon of pulling cable through mud and pools of standing rain water, security sweeps, shooting, live shots and more. Suddenly a face was between me and my plate asking what I was doing at the counter of food. Suddenly I notice a Big L on my badge where others have a large N. In this room, L for Local is about as large as an ant standing next to an elephant.

I am a BUG. Crawling on the Buffet. Getting in IMPORTANT PEOPLE’S FOOD…

But everyone in News, including those in the room most of whom I’ve known for years, knows that once it’s on the the plate it will be protected at all costs. So I offer to give it back to the Host (a non-News Party Guy), and he declines the offer. Instead he nods in closer and tells me to fill ‘er UP! He had to say something OUT LOUD, anything actually, because the Caterer had outed me and just didn’t know the RULES…


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