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Media Scrum

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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 King—he's third!note 

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.

Compare Paparazzi.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: A newspaper article with Hongo being subjected to this by the Mass Media club is briefly shown in the anime after Kaguya scares him into dropping out the Student Council election.
  • Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars: Invoked Trope as Hajime's little sister Futaba imagines that this will happen to the Murata family as the leave the house after their father disclosed the existence of aliens and the Japanese government's communications with them. Defied Trope as their mother says things like that only happen in old movies as the series is set in the future of 2070.

     Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): In #18 a bunch of reporters force their way into General Darnell's office and swarm him with questions about a rumored secret weapon while taking a bunch of pictures before they're escorted out.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): After Veronica Cale manipulates things so it looks like one of Wonder Woman's supporters murdered a man who'd been questioning her motives and calling for Wondy to no longer be upheld as a role model, Diana is accosted by a mass of reporters as she exits the Themysciran Embassy. Unlike most who have to deal with such reporters Diana doesn't mind and likes that people are paying attention to and questioning the man's murder.
  • In Superman storyline Who Took the Super out of Superman?, Clark Kent appears as a witness in court after spending one week missing. Clark is accosted by a throng of reporters as he exits the courthouse, everyone dying to know why, how and where he had disappeared to.

     Films — Live-Action 

  • Wet Desert: Tracking Down a Terrorist on the Colorado River: Large crowds of reporters accompany the governor of Nevada at Hoover Dam as he makes a press statement on the situation and the attempt to raise the dam with sandbags.
  • The Mermaid: Amelia, a mermaid hired as an attraction by P.T. Barnum, attracts so much attention that even in her human form she can't go outside without being mobbed by reporters shouting questions at her.

     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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Odd Squad episode "Odd Off The Press" has Reporterville, which is full of reporters. Of course, when Osmerelda Kim introduces herself as Opal's replacement in the Odd Squad Mobile Unit at a press conference in the town, reporters are quick to hound her about her role on the team and express shock when she tells them that she hasn't found her role yet. They also hound the Mobile Unit as a whole, especially when the Odd-skateers introduce themselves.

     Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, after Dennis leaks new footage of the Barbarossa incident, reporters descend upon the school to ask questions of the protagonist (and presumably Tamara as well).
  • 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.

  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The trope gets averted upon the crew's return from the Denmark expedition, as grand total of three reporters show up to greet them. This doesn't keep Sigrun from reacting as if a much bigger group had shown up.


Video Example(s):


Media Scrum

When Nick storms off after the press conference, Judy tries to follow him, but cannot because she is intercepted by a frenzied mob of reporters swarming around her shoving microphones in her face.

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