From Rugby, a knot of reporters and camera men gathered around someone, usually a politician, each trying to shove forward to ask their questions and catch the answers to the others' questions. Also known as a "gangbang."
Often the questions are things that the interviewee has not or does not want to address in a press release or conference. The reporters can and will chase the politician to their car or office, only being diverted by the appearance of someone even more newsworthy.
Note, the scrum is the activity described, not the group of reporters themselves.
More common in the Commonwealth than elsewhere but ubiquitous in Canadian politics, where the scrum is considered one of the central facets of parliamentary democracy and a cornerstone of freedom of the press. Although certain individuals might choose not to participate (and might be judged accordingly), any government (federal or provincial) that tried to dispose of the scrum in toto
might find itself out of a job. Scrums are taken that
seriously, by everyone.
On the other hand, the scrum is almost unknown at the highest levels of American politics. The President especially would never be mobbed like this; that's what press conferences note
are for (in 2012, a reporter for an online publication attempted to scrum President Obama during an answer and found himself out of the White House Press Corps). The difference is likely to be related to the fact that the US President is both the head of state and the head of government, whereas the Prime Minister of Canada is merely the head of government, and heads of state are always considered of higher rank than heads of government. Protocol-wise the Prime Minister doesn't even come second in line after the actual Head of State, the Queen - he's fourth!
Lesser politicians and non-politicians can expect them in the US, often from "less legitimate" news agencies. Anyone running
for office—including the presidency—can expect to get scrummed (unless, of course, they're already President). Lower offices with smaller constituencies are more likely to have this happen; presidential candidates are more likely to get scrummed during the early primaries (where "retail politics" predominate). Whether this implies a greater respect for the subject's privacy or a lack of journalistic independence is a matter of some debate.
Because of the scrum's central role in Canadian politics, you'll see these featured in all kinds of shows. Comedians have even participated in scrums
; Mary Walsh of This Hour Has 22 Minutes
once showed up to a scrum on Parliament Hill dressed as Xena and calling herself "Marg, Princess Warrior" - to the apparent amazement and delight of then-Prime Minister Paul Martin.
Media scrums are often fictionalized in Korean Series
, often to the point of knocking down the person they want to interview.
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- In Watchmen, this happens to a distressed and flustered Doctor Manhattan. After a minute or two of the treatment, he cracks under pressure and teleports them all into the parking lot. This emotional outburst kickstarts the tide of public opinion turning against him.
- It happens to Nick Naylor in Thank You for Smoking, in slow motion.
- Birdman has a crazy crowd of journalists in front of Riggan's hospital room at the end. The police can barely keep them in check.
Live Action TV
- Best Love: Gu Ae-jung gets so jostled by reporters trying to interview her that she loses a shoe.
- But it does lead to a Cinderella moment with her guy.
- Denny Crane shoves his way through with non sequiturs in Boston Legal.
- The City Hall: As both love interests are in political campaigns, they have to constantly duck around buildings and zigzag through the streets to avoid swarms of reporters.
- It can commonly be seen on the courthouse steps in any given episode of Law & Order.
- NCIS has been forced to deal with this occasionally. In one instance, the Victim of the Week was starring on an exploitative Reality Show featuring models going through boot camp. Gibbs endured the reporters' shoving and jostling until one of them made him spill his coffee.
- In Kaoru's route of Our Two Bedroom Story, the protagonist, who works for a magazine, ends up participating in such a scrum after the arsonist whose activities she and Kaoru have been covering turns himself in and the media descends in droves on the police station. She takes advantage of the fact that she's smaller and nimbler than most in the overwhelmingly male crowd to navigate to the front and get some photos for her story.