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Hair Spray, Hard News and the President’s Journalist Son With PM-Summit Rdp

November 20, 1985

GENEVA (AP) _ A city official calls news people vandals, a wind-blown television reporter holds up production until hair spray arrives, Pravda shuns the chic in favor of hard news and some correspondents grumble the president’s journalist son had an unfair advantage.

It’s all part of the summit media circus, an event that has attracted 3,117 news people, filled 5,000 hotel rooms, rented more than 700 cars and occasionally seems to eclipse the summit itself.

″Tempers grow. Everyone is nervous. People start shouting. It’s the ambiance,″ said press center director Michel Vieux.

″The bad news is some journalists are just behaving badly. There are people cutting our wires. If they need a plug, they just cut it off from somewhere,″ Vieux said.

″I can understand them climbing on top of the tables to get a better picture, but not cutting our wires. It’s just vandalism,″ he said.

A few minutes earlier, a wind-blown correspondent stood before a camera overlooking the gray water of Lake Geneva, an icy wind tugging at an unruly forelock.

″I should have brought another ton of hair spray ... See if anyone has any ... I want to blast my head with it,″ the reporter said.

And sure enough, despite the rolling eyeballs of the field producer, work was halted until the hairspray arrived and the itinerant lock laquered.

Back across town in the press center, members of the Soviet press corps found themselves celebrities in their own right as anxious Western correspondents haunted the runway in front of the Soviet offices eager for a Russian who would say anything.

The Soviet news agency Tass sent six writers, three photographers, one secretary and five communications people.

Despite the availability of newspapers and periodicals from all over the world, some of the Soviets appeared to feel isolated from their traditional sources of news.

A Soviet official was overheard asking a newly arrived Soviet correspondent whether he had brought the latest issue of Pravda.

The problem was solved when Moscow began sending the front page of Pravda by telefax to the press center for copying and distribution among the Soviets.

The Soviet correspondents were taking themselves and their work very seriously, and it was obvious they thought many of the things that sent Western news people pushing and shoving for position were frivolous.

″We are very serious. For example, we’re not writing what they were wearing or who was chic and who was not chic,″ said Pravda foreign editor Thomas Kolesnichenko. ″We get straight to the point.″

Pravda was not the only Soviet publication available at the press center. In addition to the Tass wire and a table full of information and a few news releases, the Soviets were distributing copies of the English-language Moscow News.

One reporter who managed to avoid the crowds at the summit and still get the story was Ronald Prescott Reagan, the 27-year-old son of the president.

The younger Reagan, who is accredited for Playboy magazine, was spotted talking with his father Tuesday just before the president’s first meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said young Reagan was there not as a journalist, but ″to be a part of history.″ The young man said later he was working on a ″mood piece″ for Playboy.

Journalists not separately accredited with the Soviets or Americans were at a disadvantage when it came to getting into the small pools, which permitted limited access to the events. Many of them complained about the president’s son being allowed access denied to others.

The difficulty of access bewildered some first-time summit reporters.

″I was astonished at how many arrived here at the last minute, including important TV networks, without any advance preparation,″ Vieux said.

″I told them they took a chance on coming, and that they should watch it on television,″ he said.

The television networks fielded massive teams for the summit, complete with their own canteens and motor pools and with staffers linked via walkie- talkies.

NBC spokesman Andrew Freedman said it was the largest operation his network had ever put up in Europe, with 16 camera crews, 150 people and 30,000 pounds of equipment.

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