The Press Room

I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with journalists. Throughout my 20’s I surrounded myself with girlfriends who worked in media. I could try and tell you it was because I’d always had a love of news and sharing a yarn but I think it may have been more the fact that most Journo’s shared my love of a drink and they never wanted to go home either.

If you were going to stereotype a journo in Australia you’d say they were always good for a drink and perhaps a sneaky ciggie (Dave Penberthy will tell you here how much he loves a gasper). They were my type of people. The blokes always look a bit worse for wear, the girls were good fun, they were smart and funny. They worked hard and played even harder.

When the blog started to pick up it’s pace and had a higher readership than my Mum, Dad and whoever else was at the Renmark Footy Club on a Friday night (my Mum prints it out and gives hand outs to whoever she can palm it off to friends), it was suggested that I might like to blog on the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF), I jumped at the opportunity. I knew it would provide an opportunity for some good stories but I was also fascinated with the whole concept of a “press pass” and being in the “press room” it sounded so cool, so sexy. Yes all you journo’s out there can stop that snickering now.

The press room of the DTFF was not sexy but it was very cool.  It had all of the usual stuff, desks with laptops and headphones to use, printers, IT people on hand and a table full of communications people who I don’t think actually slept throughout the festival.

Seating was arranged in pods of 4 and on every occasion I entered the press room I sat at a different pod and met a new journalist, cameraman or photographer from a different country. I learnt very quickly there was one universal media language as I heard the word “fuck” said in a variety of different accents.  One of the Al Jazeera Cameramen made an entire song when he couldn’t get the printer to print. In a gruff staccato fashion he sang “fuckety fuckety fuck fuck FUUUUUUUUCK”. The Brits of course had more of a “Fook”, the Australians and Kiwi’s ran with a “Fark” and the Irish stuck with “Feck”. I sat smirking away at my laptop screen, this was a little different from my previously politically correct corporate background.

As the days went on the pace changed, as did the familiarities. On day one the room was subdued and polite but as the days passed and stories “had” to be done a feeling of camaraderie developed. When I sat with my head in my hands after accidently deleting 3 pages of beautiful quotes and notes from Brigitte and Marian Lacombe I was consoled by listening to the woes of a Kiwi journalist who had waited patiently to speak to a Director for 4 hours, only to be told he had to go home as he was “too hot”.

At a film festival the “type” of journalist is always going to be different, there are no flak jackets or helmets. When I spotted the guy in the bright red suit with the bow tie and the wig I took a stab that he may be a film critic. When he and his mate, who I guess were both in their 60’s were shown where the VIP room was with the “special” sandwiches I gathered they were well established. These guys were old school. They sat casually doing crosswords and reading papers, looking cool and calm. They didn’t seem to need to rush to secure interviews, the interviews appeared to come to them. I overheard one of them say “They’ve asked me to interview the new actress, you know the one with the big bazooka’s that’s in the new film”. His sidekick (who walked with a cane) perked up and got off his chair “Okay, sounds like I better come with you!”

On my last day I sat with a women who is a Professor of Film and writes for the Huffington post, another who is an expert in Middle Eastern Film and another who has spent 10 years working for Richard Gere. All of them based out of New York. I sat and listened in awe of their conversations and went home at night and googled their stories and careers. I felt like I’d accidently sat at the cool table at school.

The next day when I ran in to them again “I looked at your Brigitte Lacombe story, I liked the way you painted the description of her being like one of her portraits” one of them tells me. I’m so flattered that I can barely contain myself. “We should grab a beer sometime, she says”.

I’ve always liked Journalist’s.

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  1. What a cool post! Hmm, I’m a tad envious. I also wanted to be a journalist when I ‘grew up’. Well done! J x

  2. I thought you liked me because you had to! *laughing* I hope you now have a better understanding of why fuck is my favourite word!

    I am so glad you had fun, it sounds like you had an amazing experience. Great post xx

  3. Hey great read Shamozal. I must say I never ever thought of being a journo or even in the media. When I grew up all I wanted to do was to be an Archeologist. But here I am now after a many career changes working in new media for the ABC, and wow what a cool job I have, I spend most of my day facebooking, twittering, blogging or cruising around the Australian Country with my camera and mobile editing suite in hand, ready to teach anyone to do what I am do, check us out on ABC Open

  4. you have a gift for story telling. I get absorbed by your posts and truly believe I am right there beside you. Love this one! I too have quite a few journo mates and never looked at the reasons why properly… Thought it was more happenchance, but now should look more seriously at my own use of alcohol and language!

  5. I love your writing.

    I’ve never hung out with Journos, but they sound a fun bunch! 😉

  6. WOW – sounds like you had a great time!
    (I have just found your blog, or rather just been introduced to you by Jane at Life on Planet Baby. She discovered that we are both Aussie bloggers and both live in Doha 🙂 I have really enjoyed reading through a few of your posts, as you really do tell it as one can picture it.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. I loved this post – you are an excellent storyteller! Thanks for following my blog – I have no idea how you found me all the way from where you are to Philadelphia, but am glad you did. I also just joined up with the boombahs! Ha! Looking forward to reading more!

  8. Oh sounds fab, well done! Love your name pass. First John Cusack, and now you’re a blogger-cum-journo 🙂

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