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Media Life: Camaraderie, Competition

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 18, 1998 – They schlep their gear -- tripods, lights and videocams; cameras and lenses, film and flash; notebooks, tapes, recorders and, their ubiquitous laptops.

Casually dressed, often disorderly, sometimes downright pushy, they're a gaggle of reporters, photographers and videographers. Herded from helicopter to van, they're relegated to the "back of the bus," the last vehicle in every motorcade. From site to site, and back again, they struggle to keep up, seeking the best angle, the toughest question.

Rising at dawn and working till the wee hours, they cover events around the world 24 hours a day. Their dispatches run in newspapers and magazines, on radio, television and cable. Their names and faces are familiar via the nightly news or bylined headlines. Some, like CNN's Christiane Amanpour, become worldwide celebrities.

A dozen national news reporters traveled with Defense Secretary William S. Cohen during an early-February trip to Europe, the Middle East and Russia. While he parleyed with local officials and U.S. military leaders, they covered every word.

At one stop, U.S. service members surrounded CNN's Jamie McIntyre while he filmed his news spot in front of an F-117 stealth fighter at Al Jabr Air Base, Kuwait.

Ending his filmed report, McIntyre had a momentary lapse. "Jamie McIntyre, CNN, -- uh -- uh --- uh -- where are we again?" The troops laughed. McIntyre then recalled the base name, and reshot the ending: "Jamie McIntyre, CNN, 'Al JAB-ber' Air Base, Kuwait." The troops whooped, cheered and applauded, for McIntyre had used their nickname for the base, not the official pronunciation "Al Jah-BAR."

With transportation delayed at Abu Dhabi airport in the United Arab Emirates, Susanne Schafer of Associated Press simply sat on the tarmac and tapped away at her laptop computer while Arabs dressed in flowing white robes and headdresses lingered nearby.

Aboard a C-17 Globemaster III transport plane, press circled Marine Corps Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, commander, U.S. Central Command. Stuffing hand-held tape recorders and microphones a few inches from his mouth, they asked: "When will you be ready to strike? How long will it last? Will you take out Hussein?"

And at each stop, everyone on the plane knows, "Get out of the way, the press have to file." Scurrying for phones, nothing intrudes, not food, lack of sleep, friend or foe. Their editors are standing by and the world is waiting.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCNN reporter Jamie McIntyre poses a question during a press interview with Defense Secretary William S. Cohen aboard an Air Force 747 jet bound for Moscow Feb. 11. Linda D. Kozaryn  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAssociated Press Pentagon correspondent Susanne M. Schafer uses her laptop to write her story during an arrival delay at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Feb. 10. Schafer regularly accompanies the defense secretary during his worldwide travels. Linda D. Kozaryn  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageReporters interview Marine Corps Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, commander, U.S. Central Command, during a C-17 flight to Bahrain. They queried the commander of the U.S. forces assembled in the Persian Gulf Feb. 11 about plans for military action against Iraq. From left to right are Pierre J. Glachant, Agence France Presse; Jonathan A. Wright, Reuters; Susanne M. Schafer, Associated Press; Douglas Roberts, Voice of America; and Paul T. Richter, Los Angeles Times. Linda D. Kozaryn  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageBradley L. Graham (left), Washington Post; Steven Komarow (seated center), USA Today; and Steven L. Myers (seated right), New York Times, talk informally with Defense Secretary William S. Cohen during a C-17 flight to Kuwait Feb. 9. Linda D. Kozaryn  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAbout a dozen reporters interview Defense Secretary William S. Cohen accompanied by two senators, in the conference room of his E-4B jet during a recent trip to the Middle East. From left to right: Jamie McIntyre, CNN (seated); Ed Rabel, NBC (seated); Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times (standing); Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) (standing); Cohen (seated center); Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) (standing); Susanne Schafer, Associated Press, Tom Ricks, Wall Street Journal; and Bradley Graham, Washington Post.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCNN reporter Jamie McIntyre does a news broadcast in front of an F-117 stealth fighter Feb. 10 at Al Jabr Air Base in Kuwait. Linda D. Kozaryn  
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