Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Media frenzy

I first heard the news about the Hauser family on a Friday afternoon while driving north for the Minnesota Fishing opener and immediately guessed it would be a story that would attract at least statewide attention.
But Colleen Hauser's decision to disappear with Daniel virtually assured the story would grow to have national, even international, interest.
From the handful of local media that attended their first press conference, the media contingent quickly grew to a veritable herd of state and national outlets.
And with the growing hordes of national media, the intensity level ratcheted up considerably. The news business is, of course, a very competitive one. On a local level, we all naturally want to be first with getting the story or in the case of photographers, getting the image that best tells the story.
And while we're competitive, we all know each other and there is a degree of cooperation we afford to one another. And since the news business isn't that big of a family, even if you toss the Twin Cities media which arguably is more competitive yet into the mix, there is a certain degree of familiarity with one another.
But the national media is another matter. Many of them frequently hire videographers on a free lance or contract basis.
A freelancer who doesn't consistently come back with the goods isn't likely to be tapped for other assignments. In other words, they are only as good as their last shot.
Hence, the spectacle this past week of cameramen literally running down the street along side the Hauser's family van when it showed up at the Brown County Courthouse earlier this week.
Of course, my job is to come back with the goods as well, so like the rest of the pack, I found myself sprinting across the courthouse lawn to elbow out enough shooting room to get an image or two of the family getting out of the van.
It's not something I'm particularly proud of doing, but it's my job.
I can only imagine what the Hauser family may have been thinking as dozens of news cameras closed in around them.
Certainly, the national media spotlight they found themselves in in recent weeks is far harsher than the quiet ambiance of the dairy barn.
At least for now, the satellite broadcast trucks, the coiffured news anchors, the video and still cameras, have vanished from Brown County.
But whether the Hauser family likes it or not, theirs is a story that will continue to be watched and reported, whatever end it may come to.


Anonymous said...

I think we all forget the people behind the scenes who give us the view; the up close and personal shots. Great jobs shutter bugs, I enjoy hearing your perspective.


thomas stockmann said...


Interesting and apt thoughts about the "frenzy."
It's competitive and physical realities inherently force one into a reducto ad absurdum -get in closer, get in tighter- that I find simultaneously insults my editorial decision making as a journalist and my compositional decision making as a photographer.

It is especially in these circumstances that I find it -literally- liberating to take the risk of relinquishing my upfront position and step back, way back and usually up, seeking a vantage point that would allow me to portray the whole scene as an element of what the story has become. In my experience taking this risk almost always pays off.

I would be very appreciative if the MFP wuld post a gallery of additional photos, particularly ones framed as a "wide" or "establishing shot."

Thanks for your hard work.