Applying for press credentials for the Romney campaign’s Election Night party Tuesday gave me some insight into how the former private equity CEO managed to run such a successful financial ship. For the first time in my dozen-year reporting career, I was asked to pay for a credential.
Of course, it wasn’t phrased directly as a fee for the right to observe a news event; it was listed as the payment needed for wifi, power strips and other equipment and services provided – but there was no way to get the credential without paying. And the price is not a token amount, particularly considering what is offered in return.
For $75, a journalist gets – and this is a direct quote from the campaign’s website – “1 seated position with table and chair in the ballroom. Standard power and BCEC [Boston Convention and Exhibition Center] wireless included.”
If that seems like a hefty amount to pay for a seat and Internet access, and in fact stretches credulity as the amount the campaign paid for the limited items being provided, it is mere pennies compared to the jaw-dropping amount required to get access to the press filing center. (The press filing center would be a large room with tables set up for journalists, somewhere near but not in the event itself – whose proceedings are streamed onto a large screen in the middle of the room.)
Often, to aid in their coverage of big events, news organizations can pay for reserved space, dedicated phone lines and other accoutrements that a simple newspaper reporter such as yours truly can do without. Thus, I have never been asked for so much as $1 to merely sit in a press filing center.
Well, that streak has now been broken by the $1,020 the Romney campaign requires the media to pony up, per person! The staggering sum includes “1 seated table space, standard power, shared hard phone-line, hard line internet drop, Wi-Fi, cable TV viewing, food and beverage throughout the day.”
Since not every journalist granted access to the filing center has access to the ballroom, the Romney campaign is asking many journalists to spend over $1,000 just to watch the proceedings remotely. And how in the world these provisions – even an all-you-can-eat buffet – could come to $1,020 is beyond me. But then, I’m no business guru.
- Hilary Leila Krieger