Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hacks

Interesting piece in the Post about the overworked, underpaid wretches who make up the Mexican press corps.

When the call came in, [Mario] Salas was a taxi driver, prowling the streets for fares in a dented, bright green Ford sedan. But the phone call hurled him into his other identity -- hustling TV cameraman.

Salas is a Mexican archetype. In this country, where wages are painfully low, almost everyone, it seems, has a second gig, or a third, or a fourth. Moonlighting isn't a luxury; for many, it is a necessity.

Salas juggles three jobs. He is a taxi driver, a newspaper reporter and a TV cameraman. Sometimes, he's all three at once.

I can't say I'm familiar with Salas' work, but if he ever decides to ply his trade North of the Border, the kid's got a long, bright future ahead of him...
In the calculus of Salas's job, missing one ambulance is a bummer, but it isn't a deal breaker. The first ambulance often carries a corpse or someone so badly hurt as to be motionless. The best footage, he explains, is of victims writhing in pain, their bodies shredded by flying glass and torn metal.

"The injured are worth more than the dead," he says.

Damn straight they are! But anyway, if you're ever driving in Mexico, you will definitely want to remember this:
He rolls down the window and yells to a policeman haplessly trying to flag him down, "Code 20!" -- police jargon for journalist. The officer nods his head as Salas roars through the intersection.

"Codigo Veinte!" - I'm writing that on the steering wheel so I don't forget it.

2 comments:

Mexfiles guy said...

Wish I'd taken a photo of my neighbor the Prensa photographer's car -- a 1972 Ford LTD? station wagon, every panel a different (and startling -- say lime green, pink, orange) color, red and yellow headlights. WeeGee had nothing on these guys... Latin American crime reporters are the best, though paying them by the word means no one every commits suicide. They "by their own hand, and volition, put a tragic and irrevocable finality to their state of breathing."

Burro Hall said...

The guiding style principle does seem to be "why walk when you can cartwheel." Of course, that's how I speak in English, so its hard for me to criticize.