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.