It was raining outside. That pitter patter that isn’t worthy of even opening up an umbrella. He put on his suit, wrestled with his professional conscience for a couple of minutes over whether he should wear a tie or not (the “proper” side of him won) and hurried off for the underground.
He was there in less than 15 minutes. It was still raining thinly but there was a lot more people around here and they all seemed to be transmitting their anxiety to get somewhere. It was as if all this stress was diffusing into the atmosphere and penetrating his very pores. He began to feel an adrenaline rush. Looked left and right. Everyone seemed to know where they were going. He wasn’t sure. Actually, he was lost. He thought about asking someone but no one would even slow down a pace, let alone turn around and look at him. He stepped aside and pulled out his A4 map. After a couple of minutes he figured the building he needed was 100metres in front of him. He felt silly. He followed the crowd and entered what was to be a 10 minute airport security check before he was allowed access to the press room.
He stood astounded for what seemed like forever. He gazed gulping all around him, devouring every inch of the ambience of this room. So this was what it was like. The press room at the European Council. With reporters from all over the world. So many ethnicities. And so many languages. Where did he fit in? From across the Atlantic for an online news source. And he only spoke (the) one language.
He parked his laptop and bag next to a group of people who were acting as if they were at a cocktail reception. They seemed to know what they were doing and at least they had left spaces next to them empty for other people to use.
“Ciao!” said one of them. They all seemed relatively young.
“Oh, hello” he responded.
“Ah, é un Americano!” the chirpy one replied.
They soon got to talking and he discovered basically all he needed to know about finding his way around the place. The Italians were “frequent flyers” you see. And they knew the inner dwellings of covering news at such a summit. For the “yankee”, as they called him, it was all new. This was his first big international mission. And he had to deliver outstanding results. He had high hopes for his journalistic career.
He decided to take notes on everything he saw. After all, publishing the decisions of the Council was easy. Everyone would do that. It was issued as a press release anyway. The juice of the story was behind the scenes. And that was what he was after.
How journalists scavenged for news, barking at every suit that made the mistake of coming into the room for a statement. Laptops, smartphones and tablets were all on fire. It was amazing the power and internet system could actually hold on to so many connections.
And the most interesting of all: the journalists themselves. Their priorities. And knowing where to draw the line.
“No. Absolutely not,” he heard a Brit say. “That is simply unacceptable. A low cost airline is out of the question”. He was obviously negotiated his flight arrangements for his next mission.
Further down, another reporter was trying to decide whether to attend a conference the next day or not. It was a serious issue.
“Yes, but what kind of sandwiches?” he enquired. Lunch, especially that free-of-charge, is you see an important part of these meetings.
A French photographer next to him was anxiously going through the photos he had taken during the day. The more extraordinary ones would gain him more money and greater publicity in the long run.
“Ehi Americano, vieni prendere il caffé!”. The Italians were going for coffee. Again, he thought to himself. Ah, the life of a journalist. If only everything in life was really that simple, he pondered, as he put away his tablet and mingled with the rest of his “hard-working” colleagues.
N.B. The descriptions here are simply examples. Not all journalists are like this and none can be stereotyped. Just making sure it is clear!