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Originally published October 4, 2011 at 9:40 PM | Page modified October 4, 2011 at 10:28 PM

Media scramble to get in, get a view (or a ladder)

Feeding time hit its pinnacle at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday for the 150-some reporters, producers, cameramen and technicians from various media outlets who had descended on the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for Amanda Knox's return.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Feeding time hit its pinnacle at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday for the 150-some reporters, producers, cameramen and technicians from various media outlets who had descended on Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for Amanda Knox's return.

It lasted about nine minutes, and then she was gone.

The reporters may joke among themselves about the entire situation, but, at the same time, it was covered live everywhere.

There was Stefano de Paolis, the New York-based correspondent for ANSA, an Italian news agency.

He watched the media stacked three and four people deep at a corner of a building at the south end of the airport normally used by shuttle buses. The airport had arranged some barriers and put in a lectern and loudspeakers in that corner.

"There is an amazing interest for the American public," de Paolis said. "All the national and local TV people are here, and the print, and photographers."

Of course, like every other reporter, he hoped to interview Knox. He called Dave Marriott, the Seattle public-relations man who's been a Knox family spokesman for the past four years.

De Paolis joined a list of 50 to 60 media outlets that had contacted Marriott, who says he hadn't even read their requests. Even David Letterman's show was on that list.

"I think there is business going on," de Paolis said about who'd get such an exclusive interview.

De Paolis now will be looking to interview Knox's friends, and whoever might have some interesting nugget of information.

Some reporters had landed in Seattle only hours before the news conference. And some were even on Knox's plane. They had to scramble.

There was Eirik Mosveem, a New York-based correspondent for the VG newspaper in Norway.

He was waiting for his photographer, who had run off in a rented car to a nearby Home Depot to buy a stepladder so his view of Knox wouldn't be blocked.

Then?

"Hopefully, I will speak to some people," he said.

That meant that, if you were part of the general public and were one of four or so who had arrived with a welcome sign for Knox, you were guaranteed to be endlessly interviewed.

By the time the Knox plane landed and the news conference started, there were maybe 50 onlookers, many of them people who just happened to be at the airport.

But Stephanie Torreblanca, 21, of Auburn, was one of those who had come to greet Knox.

She had driven to the airport with her fiancé, George Sanchez, and a 2-by-3-foot sign that had a hand-drawn border of green stars and the message, "Welcome home Amanda Knox."

"I thought there would be more people here with signs. I'm surprised," said Torreblanca, a criminal-justice major at Green River Community College who had studied the Knox case in class.

She took in stride being interviewed by one TV crew after another.

"Lots of people, lots of cameras," she said, not minding repeating the same quotes again and again.

In some cases, feeding time for the media began very early.

Perry Cooper, spokesman for the airport, said he received a call at 2 a.m. Tuesday from the ABC "Good Morning America" crew, which needed to give a live report at 5 a.m. East Coast time.

They wanted to set up closer to the actual airport.

Cooper said he told them, sorry, they had to stay in the designated media area.

With little news to report, there was elasticity about what was a considered even a mini-scoop.

Christina McLarty, a New York correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider," had started her day at 4 in the morning.

At around noon, she was filing a report that "sources" at all three networks had told her they all "had reps in Italy angling to get that first interview."

It did not appear the day had worn her.

"It's the pound of makeup," McLarty said.

When Knox finally made her appearance, it looked a bit like a rock concert. Cameras whirred. Cellphones were held high in the air to take photos and videos. She was cheered.

Then it was quickly over and the media were left to make some kind of report out of it all.

Just inside the south-entrance doors at the airport, a man named Oscar Bailey worked customer service at one of the shuttle companies.

Yes, he had gone outside and taken photos to post on his Facebook page.

But he also talked about a regular sight that stays with him.

It is that of wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan or Iraq or some other battle zone.

"I see them coming through here all the time, some of them in crutches or casts," Bailey said. "We pick them up and take them to Fort Lewis."

He said he was happy that Amanda Knox was free.

But he asked why the soldiers on crutches didn't get this kind of coverage at the airport. By the way Bailey smiled, he already knew the answer.

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237

or elacitis@seattletimes.com

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