So, Shoot Me : 75 second read by Farriz Mashudi 15/12/2020
Once when I was still a relatively green TV journo covering a big story with my crew – a cameraman, sound-man and lighting guy – (for better and for worse, our number made us a presence wherever we went), a print reporter (you could tell he was seasoned from his lordly impatience) approached me with a complaint.
The assignment was news of a political sort that was of local and potentially international interest. But in the confines of the fancy hotel where the meetings were being held, no one entering and exiting the conference rooms would speak off (never mind, on) the record, in sight of a TV crew. We were cramping his style, he said. Could we just move away? Apparently, he spoke for all the print and online press there, too.
Did he offer up a credible quote for my inconvenience? Or to share sources and collaborate?
Did I tell the crew to move? To budge even a few feet to be less conspicuous behind a pillar?
Negative. We stood our ground from where the camera was positioned for a best shot. And when the Prime Minister eventually came out it was to our camera and to me that he gave a generous soundbite.
I was reviled, but also vindicated, and had brought home a scoop. I should have been over the moon.
I was reviled, but also vindicated, and had brought home a scoop. I should have been over the moon. Instead, decades on I’m still full of regret over the missed opportunity. All of our returns that day could have been all the better if we’d only found a way to cooperate. If we’d been writing buddies rather than foes. Even if for a day.
Since embarking on the creative writing journey, in sharp contrast it’s been the camaraderie of other writers, long-drawn coffees with literary and nonfiction types alike, the feedback of critique groups, and insights shared by class-mates that have helped me the most. Is it because writing, as a vocation (and for journalists if you freelance or work on immersion projects), entails hours on end of working alone? Is it solitude and the life of a hermit OR being deprived of others to fight with — that brings out the best in us?