Field Note 05: An important skill for reporters

I was sent to cover the hearing on a motion asking for hospital arrest for Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo early this morning, which essentially means I was sent to take blurry pictures with my mobile phone.

In case you have never been to a court room:  it is nothing like what you see in American court dramas, with hard wood furniture, and marble floors.  A Philippine court room is really just a room with a few benches and not enough space to house an army of reporters, photographers, and camera men.

Case in point

With everybody jockeying for position, or at least trying to get within earshot,  tensions can get high and everything is within a hair of descending into chaos. This morning, somebody got hit on the head by a a camera tripod that tipped over. On some other coverage at the Senate, an ambush  interview was interrupted temporarily by a crisp “PUTANGINAMO!” from a photographer whose stepladder was shoved out of the way and, incidentally, off balance.

Here, as in life, one is faced with several options: hang back and pray to God that you can get something that you can turn into a story, rush headlong into the the throng and try to test the Pauli exclusion principle, or go for a more laid-back and almost Taoist approach.

You can, for example, try to flow around the problem:

When the judge closes a door, as they say...

One photographer suggested I slip in through a side door that the lawyers used but I was stopped by a policeman who was, I guess, on to those tricks.

You can also give it a Post Modern treatment and watch the whole thing through the wall of cameras, literally.

The sound through one of these things is pretty good. No points for online reporters who need usable pictures, though.

In any case, the point is to be flexible, and to learn to get out of the way while sliding into the next open space until you get where you need to be, or at least enough of what you need.

For your reference, here is a sort of training video:

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