[EDITOR'S NOTE: I asked the author to give us a little background so that the reader might have a better understanding of what this journal is about. Here is what he has to say about himself.]

After graduating many, many years ago from San Jose University where my interest in photography was kindled, and after a few brief years as a high school teacher, I decided to switch careers and make television my career. Mostly because the thought of spending time in a darkroom with smelly chemicals in order to develop and print photos had no appeal. Television was instant.

The early part of my career was spent working for a PBS station at the College of San Mateo and at the public access facility in Mountain View, California.

In 1988 I was hired by KICU TV 36 in San Jose as the lead production videographer. After nearly 13 years at KICU I joined the team at the late great TechTV where for two and a half years I shot news. For the last year I have been the staff news photographer for CNBC at their Silicon Valley bureau.

I am married and have a 7 year old daughter who is my favorite subject to photograph.



By Mark Neuling
Staff News Photographer CNBC

On the Internet chat-rooms it was being referred to as the Jesus-phone, perhaps because of its miraculous properties. Like Jonah and the whale, we too spent several days in the belly of the beast as Apple Inc. unleashed its latest creation to the world.

What was unusual about this event were the large numbers of bloggers and web casters present. It seemed that for a block, nearly everyone in line had a camera or microphone tethered to a laptop. People set up on the street, finding a seemingly endless supply of willing disciples eagerly waiting to share their excitement over the impending sale of a $600 telephone, iPod and web browser all bundled into one neatly packaged device.

What is disconcerting for me was the total lack of really anything newsworthy coming out of most these blog-casts. There were echoes of my public access days when much of what we aired we dubbed as “vanity video” and these blogs and web casts very closely border on the verge of that kind of silliness. Many of these “citizen journalists” appear to be spewing seemingly endless streams of consciousness electronically disseminated via the Internet. The difference from the days of public access television is that so long as there is a free Wi-Fi connection they can reach out to the rest of the world sharing their insights, opinions and experiences. Most, if not all of theses folks are extremely nice and very intelligent people, but waiting in line over-night for nearly 32 hours to buy a telephone, prompts me to wonder just what makes some of these folks tick.


Blog-casting from outside the Apple store the day before the iPhone goes on sale.
© 2007 Mark Neuling for CNBC

Robert Scoble was second in line to buy the iPhone from the Palo Alto Apple store. Mr. Scoble waited nearly thirty-two hours in line and camped overnight in order to purchase the $599.99 phone from Apple Inc.
© 2007 Mark Neuling for CNBC

We were there early on Thursday, the day before the phones were to go on sale to do live-shots and shoot whatever b-roll we could. Lo and behold we had the sidewalks of Palo Alto virtually all to our selves. Maybe we had misjudged the interest in the iPhone, or maybe we’d listened too closely to our own hype. But at about 9:45 am the first shock troops of the iPhone army settled into their beanbags in front of the Apple store. Thirteen year old Patrick Scoble and his dad would be the first through the door at six the following evening. Patrick had saved up the money for his phone, and he was working on a plan to find a way to pay the monthly fees

Thirteen-year-old Patrick Scoble was the first in line to purchase his iPhone, outside the Apple store in Palo Alto, California. Thursday June 28, 2007.
© 2007 Mark Neuling for CNBC


CNBC correspondent and Silicon Valley bureau chief, Jim Goldman, waits to go live from outside the Apple store in Palo Alto, California. June 28, 2007.
© 2007 Mark Neuling for CNBC

It seemed that word got out fast that there were a couple of folks already waiting in line. Three or four newspaper and wire photographers showed up to take pictures, as well as several “small camera” television crews; strangely we seemed to be the only broadcast television entity there.

As the day grew longer so did the line and the excitement. We did live-shots, so did several of the citizen journalists.

Some wait while others sleep. Palo Alto, California, June 29, 2007
© 2007 Mark Neuling for CNBC

Some are joined by pets. Palo Alto, California, June 29, 2007
© 2007 Mark Neuling for CNBC

A couple of young guys set up their camera on the corner. These days, anyone under 30 is young to me, and theses guys weren’t exactly pimple-faced high school kids. Their camera was tethered to a laptop and their “talent” was waiting in the line out front of the Apple store. They completely blocked the sidewalk in order to conduct their little web cast. People coming out of the Apple store were directed to go around them and some of these customers were ticked. One woman with a baby stroller complained to me about being asked to push her stroller into the street. I of course was standing there next to my own tripod mounted fancy-cam waiting to do my own live shot. I told her it was a public sidewalk and that she had every right to use it. I warned these guys that they were going to screw it up for all us if they didn’t wrap it up.

Long story short, a very loud police woman eventually dismounted from her patrol car and in no uncertain terms made it clear to these "citizen journalists" that the street had to be left clear for people in wheel chairs, mothers with strollers etc. Their little web cast ended pretty abruptly.

Chow call outside the Apple Store on University Avenue - Palo Alto, California. June 29, 2007.
© 2007 Mark Neuling for CNBC

Friday morning was cool. The marine layer was still present at six when I arrived for the first of our live-shots. There were a lot sleepy looking folks fueled by bagels and donuts. Coffee though was in short supply.

The line had grown considerably since we’d left the previous afternoon. Lawn chairs, sleeping bags, blankets, cigarette butts and empty pizza boxes lined the quiet and normally well-manicured streets in Palo Alto. By late morning the overcast had burned off and shade was at a premium. Cheap lawn umbrellas became a hard currency for those fortunate to have brought them.


I shot some stills for our correspondents’ blog. Yes, on big events like this I’m bringing a camera and laptop so that our viewers and as well as our web- readers can have up-to-date information and photos from a story. Maybe not a true platypus, but certainly an example of the duties that photographers and cameramen of all types are now expected to provide

Once the marine layer burned off shade was the most important commodity to come by. Beach umbrellas gave the quiet streets of Palo Alto a Coney Island look.
© 2007 Mark Neuling for CNBC
It ís quiet outside the Apple store on University Avenue in Palo Alto, California. The launch of the iPhone from Apple Inc., is still hours away.
© 2007 Mark Neuling for CNBC

By 5:30 pm I was in place at the very front of the Apple store. We waited, we got our instructions from the Apple PR people, a giant iPhone counted down the seconds to 6 pm when the doors would finally open and the first thirty lucky people could venture in to the store to purchase their long awaited iPhones.

The countdown began as the final seconds slipped through the electronic hourglass. Right on the dot, the doors swung open and the security guard stepped aside and in three groups of ten, the first customers entered. I felt vaguely like Noah watching the animals enter the ark. The sad thing was that our well-mannered media contingent was turned into a mosh-pit as one or two “blogger types” seemingly launched themselves at the store entrance in some sort of a frenzied banzai charge. I am all for getting your shot, but as professionals we’ve learned to get it while staying out of the way of our fellow brethren in the media.

I got my shots, Steve Jobs made an appearance and after two long days, our coverage was finally complete. It sure looks like a sweet phone too, but I think I’ll wait for the second generation.

© 2007 Mark Neuling
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Email address is now – theneulings@Juno.com


See Dick Kraus's Commentary also in this month's Assignment Sheet.


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