Friday, 30 August 2013

TV News Cameraman And A Vote For War.

Many a happy day has been spent over the years in large gatherings of the worlds press, covering various events. Yesterday, whilst working for the BBC News, i again found myself surrounded by the finest members of the Fourth Estate from around the globe, reporting and waiting to see if we, the British, were to lend a hand in bombing the shit out of yet another Middle East country, namely Syria.

The worlds press...

In the House Of Parliament, our elected representatives gasbagged, chewed the fat, arm twisted and argued over whether we should intervene to send a warning note, glued to the pointy end of a Tomahawk Cruise Missile, to a dictator hell bent on gassing his own people. I could go on at length about my own views, but here is not the place.

Outside in the late Summer sunshine, about 100 or so reporters, correspondents, field producers, cameramen, soundmen and a phalanx of TV techies milled about, filed reports, issued live standups to their respective nations, scribbled in notebooks and generally broadcast supposition and hearsay about what was going to happen, whilst attempting to deplete the worlds supply of coffee to dangerous levels.

What would the Russians do..? Will Assad refrain from killing more..? Will the Jihadists from the world over pour in to fill the void..? Everybody knew and nobody knew. Only two things mattered. Will we make things worse, or will the Politicians pull one out of the hat and save the day..?

Politicians, Generals and Middle East experts poured views into our lenses and microphones that had set up shop on College Green. Peace activists gathered outside the corridors of power and the religious warned of a hell unleashed on Earth... Everyone had a point of view, a solution, warnings and ways forward.

Israel, Iran, Russia, Lebanon, Turkey, America and the UK were at the top of the news agenda. Memories of an Iraqi adventure gone wrong, false intelligence, dodgy dossiers and an ongoing Afghan war. Consequences, blame and finger pointing... Bomb him to hell, but think of the children.

English and American accents, Arabic, German and Italian. It seemed that most TV News broadcasters had sent a camera team and a corresponding hairdo with shiny teeth. Someone even sent an organic light stand to hold a set of lights... Now that was funny to watch.

What he didn't know, was that this report was lasting for 25 minutes.

Major news bulletins at 1 and 6. 24 hour news channels desperate for more guests and passing blowholes with opinions. Gravitas filled the air like a cheap perfume. Broadcasting greytemples and heavyweight news icons mixed with VJ's and pasty looking newsroom producers who blinked in the sunlight having escaped from Millbank studios for a few hours.

I sipped at my coffee and watched. Between my filming tasks i looked, listened and soaked in the atmosphere of the worlds press at work, squeezed into a tiny patch of central London, desperate for more. More information, more expertise, more... more... more... I loved every minute of it.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

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