Be aware of the difference between a scheduled press conference and news breaking events. A scheduled event is an event that occurs in a predetermined date, time, and place. An example of a scheduled event would be a political conference, a business announcement, or a press conference. The event follows a prearranged agenda and possibly a program list.
Scheduled news events or press conferences work quite differently than commercial events such as sports and entertainment. If you currently work in print media or broadcast news service, you should encounter no difficulty in gaining access to scheduled events. However, freelance press photographers generally do not have ready access to these events unless they have the press accreditation of a news-gathering institution.
Scheduled news events are usually easier to cover and often in less demand. For that reason, they seek coverage and welcome the press – which makes those events a great place to start using your press credentials.
To find out about scheduled events, take the time to personally visit your mayor or other government offices in your area. Introduce yourself as a member of the press and let them know of your interest in covering scheduled conferences and announcements. Ask for them to place you on their notification or email lists. Follow these same procedures for art galleries, sports arenas, local political offices, pageant directors, etc. Another way to hear about scheduled events is to listen to local radio broadcasts, television stations, or read a local newspaper.
If you desire to keep up with celebrities, contact local Artist’s Agencies requesting the particular star’s agenda and personal itineraries. Local colleges often attract alumni celebrities for lots of events, which provide opportunities for the press. Gaining entry to these functions is often easier than you might think. Be sure to apply for your press access well in advance to avoid disappointment. If you encounter any difficulty, rely on the IFPO team to help you out (or in!)
Breaking News Events
Breaking news events are not pre-arranged and happen every minute of the day. An example of such an event would be a major fire, train wreck or plane crash. News occurs anywhere at any time. No one can predict news; it just happens. Because of the spontaneity of news events, the working press photographer or journalist must always be aware and prepared to capture the story. This includes having your equipment available and ready. You must also have your press support systems in place, i.e. your current press cards, internet verifications and such.
On your way to a news event, or on the site, attempt to ferret out the five important journalists’ questions of Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? The goal of your report is to capture the story by answering those questions. Then you know who to photograph or interview to get the story. Without this information, you may have to resort to interviewing bystanders who then become a part of the story.
In uncovering these details, however, respect police, highway patrol officers, the fire department, and other enforcement agencies. Do not be surprised if you are denied access even after presenting your credentials. Cooperation is the name of the game. If you exhibit hostility and rudeness towards a police officer, you may find yourself in extremely hot water or in jail. The police are only trying to ensure your personal safety. Realize this and do not jeopardize your health or the health and safety of innocent bystanders. Use common sense.
Again, have your credentials ready and always be willing to present them. Don’t expect the officials to see your press passport as you fly by. Exhibit courteous and friendly behavior to all officials involved. Always uphold the highest ethical standards. You will be remembered for that.