Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

September 15, 2013

Gaggling due to governor

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I got my back up during a gaggle a few weeks ago when Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited Lockport City Hall to hand out checks. The state courtage was friendly enough and one helpful young lady notified me of a gaggle to be held after the formalities in the city council chambers.

A gaggle is an informal press gathering where media swarm around the newsmaker, trying to get position to ask a question. Gaggles are demeaning to journalists who are often pictured stepping over each other and falling over each other’s question.

It happens in big cities, not at Somerset Town Board meetings or at the Starpoint School Board. On rare occasions, gaggles go on in the little city.

Several people gathered around Cuomo and I stuck my tape recorder into the group. A tall young man, about 6-foot-4, told me to go away. I asked, “Who are you?” He replied, “It’s not important who I am. Go away,” or something like that.

Wait a minute. This is a place I work. I come here five days a week. You come twice in four years. Who are you to boss me around? It’s not my house, but I deserve some squatters’ rights.

It turned out that the big guy was a member of Team X. Those are the men who come into town to protect the big shot and give out orders, even to the gentry. They wear suits on 90 degree days and may carry heat. I didn’t push it.

Besides, the media gaggle was behind closed doors 10 minutes later. I was tempted to ask Cuomo if he wanted to launch his presidential campaign from Lockport, but that flippant question gave way to more important questions — like education. They were launched from TV guys kneeling on the floor while trying not to spoil the crease in their pants or mess their hair.

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