Reporter's Notebook: Inside the Media Circus

In the southward shadow of San Francisco, every network, local station within a 6-hour drive and media outlet with any sense of news has set up shop and settled in for the trial of Scott Peterson (search).

Peterson, charged with the double murders of his wife and his unborn son, will begin Tuesday, the first of many days facing an evenly split jury — six men and six women — of his peers.

The trial is taking place about two hours west of the Modesto home where it all began back in December 2002. Laci Peterson (search), who was eight months pregnant, disappeared on Christmas Eve, an event that set off a national media frenzy to cover the unfolding mystery.

Four months later, Laci's body and that of her son separately washed up in San Francisco Bay and Scott Peterson was charged with their murders. Peterson has maintained his innocence.

And now comes the real media circus.

The courthouse and jail look like white boxes separated from the bay by a major freeway. The two county buildings are connected by a second-story enclosed bridge that becomes the pathway for Scott Peterson.

Within two blocks several two-story flat-topped generic office buildings are speckled with tents, platforms and lights.

Makeshift railings fence people several feet from the edge. The overlook has already become familiar and will no doubt become tiresome as the trial extends well beyond summer, and as some speculate, possibly through winter.

Area businesses seem welcome, their profits hitting all-time highs as hundreds of hungry crews
search for food and supplies to keep the machine rolling.

Along with the media mass come the extras — people lurking and listening from the next table, trying to get an edge or hear any new information that might seep out before opening statements are completed.

Dinners and conversations get interrupted as cameras flash. The famous faces who've covered cases before, now prepare for the next big one and along with it the local stardom that gets them the best tables and bottles of best wine.

Everyone seems to get along, the locals happy to see new faces, but how long will this last in every imaginable aspect — as the old saying goes — only time will tell.

This is Redwood City (search) now and for the immediate future. All legal eyes and curious minds will watch, wait and listen to the case that has captivated America.