Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Long Beach Fire: Part Two

Great. Now that I'm awake, I can say a little more about the Long Beach Fire.

When I'm shooting someone doing their job, the last thing I want to do is get in the way.

I'm not sure how much or how often we actually do get in the way during these types of emergencies, but I notice sometimes we get treated better than others. Our access to the area affected by the Long Beach apartment fire wasn't completely consistent through the evening.

I spent at least an hour on my own shooting b-roll. Mostly I'm just trying to get a handle on what would be important for the reporter.

(By the way, that hydrant in the picture below was spraying a very fine jet of water right at me as I was taking this shot. I didn't notice it until it had soaked through the front of my jeans. I'll call it an occupational hazard. If anyone noticed, they didn't mention it. I'm just lucky it didn't soak any of my gear.)

I'm not sure if something changed, but (later in the evening) the fire department began assigning escorts if we wanted to shoot anything close to the building.

It was a little frustrating because I'm pretty sure most of the photogs on the scene at that point had already shot most of their b-roll. It was a little insulting when the escorts brought us across the street away from the building behind the yellow tape. They walked us into an area that the public was coming from and going to freely.

Good thing we had an official escort.

Photographers complain about this all the time, but it doesn't seem to filter through to all the people who should be concerned.

Too often we end up at odds with fire or police representatives who don't know or don't care about the job we're trying to do.

The policies (and laws) that determine what we can and can't do are pretty basic. It's difficult to understand how we can still get saddled with a person who seems to want to control our actions.

Sometimes it seems that we're being held accountable for the poor behavior of other media.

Sometimes it feels like there's an expectation is that we're going to behave badly.

Some of that baggage is rightfully ours and we should take responsibility for it. I've been around enough inexperienced or just plain bad journalists to know the difference.

Heck, I've been bad and inexperienced.

Woo. I've got to run off to work, but let me try to make a small point here. Trying to control us isn't going to make for better media organizations. Everybody needs to work under a common understanding. We all need to know and follow the rules.

I think I need to make this a three parter.


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