Hunger for news can't be staved off by ham and cheese sandwiches

January 17, 2006

Satirist Harry Shearer once defined journalists as people who love free food. If true, the sandwiches served in the newsroom at McCormick Place during the RSNA meeting do little to help reporters advance that reputation.

Satirist Harry Shearer once defined journalists as people who love free food. If true, the sandwiches served in the newsroom at McCormick Place during the RSNA meeting do little to help reporters advance that reputation.

Nevertheless, the gaggle of writers that inhabit the press room in Chicago are a courageous lot, sampling the ham and turkey and even daring to taste the tuna salad. This is quite extraordinary because the first rule of travel is to stay away from tuna and meatloaf.

Seriously, though, we are so busy in the press room during the RSNA meeting that we sometimes barely have time to eat the free food supplied for us. At times, we're reduced to trolling the exhibit floor, in search of chocolates or other edible giveaways. When these are scarce, we have been known to eat foam-rubber doohickey-key chains.

Back in the press room, plates of tortilla chips and cans of soda inevitably share space with tape recorders and laptops. Greasy program pages flap as journalists double-check facts and jump drives are swapped as easily as sticks of gum. Official-looking people march in and announce press conferences. Old friends chat and new friends get acquainted. Watches are continually checked and distinct cell phone tones offer a glimpse of individual eccentricities.

Overall, the newsroom is like a high-tech beehive where writers report the latest buzz in radiology, while carefully plotting their next free meal.

Mr. Kaiser is news editor for Diagnostic Imaging.