Thursday, 23 October 2003

Observations on the Media

Well, the Bushes have come, and gone. And Canberra feels like it's been rudely shaken awake, has looked about groggily for a bit, then has gone back to sleep.

No more constant roar of fighters in the sky. No more traffic chaos as roads are blocked without warning. The prime security measure was not to tell anyone exactly where the President was at any time, or how he'd get to the next engagement. This meant that you'd be driving along, and suddenly have to take a detour, sometimes of up to 15 kilometres.

By the way, the official scoring rate in the "SPOT POTUS" game was:
For seeing Bush's Head : 50 points
For seeing Bush's Torso : 100 points
For a full-rear view : 500 points
For a full-frontal view : 1000 points
For spotting Bush's Double : 2000 points
For spotting anyone in a Dark Suit with aviator glasses : 1 point
..talking into their cufflinks : 10 points
..using a shoephone : 50 points

This gives you an idea of the gravitas, decorum and respect for authority that is so much a part of Australian society. (Sorry, forgot the <sarcasm> tags)

Anyway, I was able to get into work today with no trouble. Getting home again was another matter, but never mind. Still, I was able to engage in the pastime of "people watching" of all the CNN and Fox reporters who were doing camera shots 1 level down, within 10 paces of the National Press Club Bar.

Some observations:
  • Although the Fox and CNN news-crews do mix socially, yes, there is some animosity. Especially as many of the Fox people are former CNN. The cry "Splitters" was heard when I had a few words with them all together.
  • I went for a quick 10 minute walk, leaving a CNN reporter talking 10-words-a-second on her 15th take or so. When I came back, she'd just finished the last take, and was plaintively asking "Was I OK?", pleading for a little ego-massage from the 4 crew (sound, lighting, script/makeup, video) on her team. I can testify that the characterisations in both "The China Syndrome" and "Groundhog Day" are perfectly faithful to reality.
  • There's nothing so comical as seeing someone staring into a camera, hand to their ear, and nodding earnestly in dead silence. Especially on the third take.
  • At no time was any of the crew more than 20 paces from the bar. Every cliche you've ever heard about TV reporters appears to be true.

Transcripts in the Sydney Morning Herald
George Bush's Speech
John Howard's Speech
Simon Crean's Speech (He's leader of the opposition, popularity rating about 16%)

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