posted by Dana Bate, Field Producer at 10:59 AM on 05/05/09
Before heading to my first Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting last weekend, lots of people prepped me for what to expect. The crowds will be huge. The day will be long. The meeting will be unlike any other you've seen.
All of that was true. But the one event I wasn't entirely prepared for was the media scrum -- what I shall henceforth refer to as the mob of mass destruction.
Every year, Warren Buffett walks around the exhibition hall, where Berkshire businesses showcase their wares. He stops by Dairy Queen and Fruit of the Loom and any number of other businesses that Berkshire owns. All the while, cameras and reporters swarm around the Oracle of Omaha, chronicling his every move and word.
As this horde moves through the exhibition hall, it grows, and grows, and grows, like a tornado sweeping across the plain. Shareholders and their ilk latch onto the crowd, thrusting their cell phones into the mass, hoping to snap a photo of Berkshire's chief.
This swirling tornado amasses an unwieldy size, taking out anything in its path. I'm fairly certain that if a small child had gotten in the way, this throng would have mowed him or her down without noticing.
At one point, as I traveled with this pack of cameras, I dropped my pen. In a moment of foolishness, I reached down to pick it up. I almost lost my arm.
Shortly thereafter, I found myself walking in high heels through mulch, part of an exhibit that Mr. Buffett had decided to walk through, and like lemmings, we the press followed.
Our cameraman Mike Malanga performed astonishing feats that day. Hustling around shrubbery and slithering through turnstiles, he managed to get some great video of Mr. Buffett, often ducking boom microphones and other cameras in the process.
After the mob of mass destruction has torn through the exhibition hall, the Oracle of Omaha -- poof! -- disappears to prepare for the meeting. The throng disperses like a heap of iron filings, the magnetism of Warren Buffett having vanished.
I have to believe there is a better way to orchestrate this mob scene. Someone could get seriously hurt. But from everything I've heard, Warren Buffett likes it and wouldn't have it any other way. And when you're the world's second wealthiest man, I'm guessing there aren't too many people who want to argue with you.Related Links
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