Media scrums: faint-hearted need not apply

Keep your arms and feet inside the car at all times and enjoy the ride. That may be the advice for going on a rollercoaster, but it is also very apt for surviving a media scrum.

It’s fast, furious and all over in a relatively short, adrenaline-filled period. One moment you are quietly confident, the next you are being swept along by some freak wave, fumbling to frame, focus and record that all-too-important grab for the package. No second take here, this is it.

Backwards you go, snappers to the right of you, snappers to the left of you. Snappers all around. Somewhere, health and safety is having kittens, and the public is sensibly diving for cover.

Then it is all over, and you have a chance to look back at the route you have just taken. You watch a photographer collecting the shattered remains of their flash as you retrieve your microphone, discarded in fear by your reporter shortly before they sought post-traumatic stress counselling.

At a recent airport scrum, I had a trainee reporter on mic duty, attached to me by a bright yellow cable. Stand here by my right, move back in time with me, and don’t stray, I told them. Courtesy of the BBC that evening, I watched my reporter lasso me to the cameraman on my left by walking clockwise round both of us, to stand by my left elbow. Co-joined cameramen. Where is that radio mic when you need it? That reporter is now a presenter.

The faint-hearted need not apply. Sharp elbows, eyes in the back of your head, grim determination, the ability to walk backwards fast and an advanced sense of balance are all essential. A sense of humour will be required too, because you can guarantee the newsdesk will have lost theirs if you don’t get the shot.

One last piece of advice: Under no circumstances stand in front of me.

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