Contrary to a news conference, a planned event with some sort of order where a moderator, often a political aide, will decide who asks the next question and occurs in a predetermined location, a scrum is a free-for all gathering of journalists around a person, often a politician, that can take place anywhere.
A scrum usually occurs when someone arrives or leaves a place, like the National Assembly or a courtroom. Reporters and visual journalist (photographers and cameramen) will then run to the person to secure a “front row” position. A “half-circle” of journalist will form in front of the scrummed person. When a lot of us are there, the scrum can then completely surround the “victim”, which can be very intimidating if the person is not used to that. It’s not uncommon to have 20 journalists of all kind (cameramen, photojournalist, reporter, sound taker, etc) at a scrum.
It’s a free-for all, so the first question to be answered is usually the one who was asked the loudest and there is a minimum of cooperation between the visual journalists. The one who where able to secure a front row position will rarely give their place to the guy behind. However, sometime the tall guys (like me) will let the smaller one goes in front, as they can photograph above the shorter guy’s head.
The word can be used as a verb, like in “we’ll scrum the Premier when he’ll get out of his limo”
To my knowledge, no French translation exists, so Quebecers use the word “scrum” as well. You can hear things like “on va faire un scrum”, “on vas le scrummer à sa sortie”, etc.
You can see below some examples of a scrum
Quebec premier Jean Charest is scrummed after a news conference to inaugurate the Promenade Samuel de Champlain parkway in Quebec city
Quebec premier Jean Charest and minister Claude Bechard are scrummed after the funeral of Nancy Michaud in Riviere-Ouelle.
I intend to have this new column come back on a regular basis. I have some idea in mind for words that I want to define, but if there is some that you want me to explain, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment bellow.