While covering Carnival Cruise Line's Voyage of the Damned for three days last week we had a lot of down time waiting for the Flying Dutchman to reach port. Throw about fifty or so network veterans into a small space, and you hear some interesting conversations.
One of the topics centered around that fact that no one got into an argument about anything. We're all fighting for the great interview, the "get" that will make our employer proud, but no one was stepping on toes. I waited quietly for an interview as another reporter finished up, then another reporter waited quietly for me to wrap up. When fifteen or so cameras were crammed together, there were no flying elbows. Reporters crouched down under lenses or sat on the ground. One white balance for everyone, one mike check for everyone.
Then we talked about how it used to be when we were just getting into the business. Shoving, scrambling, jamming a camera into a small space. But back then we were cowboys, and have gotten too old for that stuff.
It's also impolite.
We realize we all have a job to do, and it's a lot easier to do it when you treat the people next to you as the competition rather than the enemy. Your battery dies? Someone will lend you a good one. Mike falls off the stand? Another reporter will pick it up for you. Someone else's light stand about to fall over? You grab it and hold it until they're done. Because eventually you'll need a favor as well.
Those scenes in movies with reporters shoving each other like rugby players in a scrum are from a bygone era.
Be polite. Your job will be much easier if you're friendly to the competition.