I was recently on an public meeting with 2 famous journalists. As it's usual, firstly there was an organized discussion lead by the host, after which there was a space for questions from the audience. Between those 2 parts, there was a 10 minute break, during which everyone stood in groups in the bar with a cigarette or a glass of wine.

Is it OK to join the talk in these groups, if it's nothing personal? Are they always people who knew each other before?

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    Sorry, I acknowledge it sounded like it was a conference and made an edit. In fact, only the invited personalities were journalists. – foggy Aug 21 at 6:49

Is it OK to join the talk in these groups, if it's not anything personal?

I don't go to journalism conferences, but I go to developer conferences regularly. As long as you are polite there is nothing wrong with approaching people and introducing yourself. Networking and meeting other professionals is a major reason to attend professional conferences.

Are they always people who knew each other before?

I often am with a co-worker or someone else I know at these conferences, and I still welcome the chance to meet new people.

Generally, yes. I think it's important to read the tone of the strangers' conversation - if it seems like they're discussing something serious or personal, best to not join the conversation. However, I'm sure most of the attendees at such a conference are there to network and meet new people, so you would probably be well received. You could approach a group of people, introduce yourself and ask a question related to the discussion, or ask them why they're at the conference/what they hope to get out of it.

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