Obama Camp to Media: Pay Up!

22 Oct

CHICAGO (AP) — Media organizations will have to pay up if they want a prime spot to cover Democrat Barack Obama’s election night party in a downtown lakefront park.

Obama’s campaign, awash in money after raising a record-shattering $150 million last month, is asking news organizations to pay anywhere from $410 to $1,870 depending on where they want to be and if they want telephone or Internet service in Grant Park.

While it is customary for news organizations to pay their way when covering a presidential campaign, including transportation, hotels and Internet services, some have questioned the Obama campaign’s plan.

“It smells a lot like paying for access,” said Al Tompkins, a former TV news director who teaches broadcast and online journalism at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.

For $1,870, a news organization can buy space on a main riser that will be covered, plus phone and Internet service, while $410 will get them space on a separate riser for photographers without out phone or Internet access, but with electrical power. A seat in a heated press filing center will cost $935 and include power, cable TV, Internet and food.

There is one press credential reporters can get for free. It will provide access to a standing-room-only outdoor press area with no services that “may have obstructed views.”

Obama’s campaign says it’s charging the media only for the services it will be providing them, not for coverage, and that such fees are “standard procedure” in presidential campaigns.

“There is no fee to cover our election night event. News organizations will be able to cover our event without charge, with full access to our campaign advisers,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement.

LaBolt, in a later statement, added that the campaign “would be surprised” if any news organization would expect it to subsidize coverage “given the appearance conflicts that could create.”

The event will be free and open to the public.

Republican John McCain’s campaign did not immediately provide details Wednesday about media arrangements for its election night event in Phoenix.

Tompkins said it’s typical for media to pay for telecommunications services but he said he was unaware of news organizations having to pay for platform space to cover an event.

Access to covered and heated areas could be key in November when Chicago weather can be fickle for an outdoor event.

Fred Brown, former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, said the Obama campaign’s fee list is a “mercenary way” to approach coverage.

“It seems to needlessly create ill will,” said Brown, a retired capitol bureau chief for The Denver Post who still writes regularly for the newspaper.



2 Responses to “Obama Camp to Media: Pay Up!”

  1. NoHillaryNoVote October 23, 2008 at 9:23 pm #

    I am sharing this idea on several blogs this week where others are not supporting Obama.

    For the record:
    I am a PUMA in northern VA
    I am a Black woman
    I am a registered democrat
    I am one of the voters who supported Hillary Clinton in the primary

    AND I am not voting for Obama-Biden.

    I am so tired of hearing about Obama spending big bucks to run his infomercial on October 29th by trying to blanket mainstream television airways.

    I think we need to begin to promote a “Turn off Obama-TV” on October 29th. I say – Do NOT Listen to or Watch Obama’s 30 minute commercial on October 29, 2008. Obama thinks he can MAKE us listen to what he has to say by spending all that money in order to have his commercial on several networks at the same time. We do NOT have to listen. We do NOT have to support this gimmick.

    Let’s all participate in: “Turn Off Obama-TV” that night. On October 29th for that specific 30 minutes: Push mute – Turn down the sound – Change the channel – or Turn off the television. Do not listen to any more of Obama’s hot air, false promises or his lies about McCain-Palin.

    INSTEAD for that 30 minutes do something else with your brain cells — (here’s a few ideas)

    Watch a different tv program
    Watch a DVD or video
    Listen to the radio
    Listen to a CD
    Read a book or magazine
    Play a board game
    Surf the web
    Watch YouTube videos
    Call a friend on the phone
    Play a video game
    Write an email to a friend
    Work on one of the word games or word puzzles in the newspaper
    Play the piano (or instrument of your choice)
    Do some exercising
    Play a card game
    Work on your family’s scrapbooks
    Bake Halloween cookies or cupcakes
    Work on your favorite hobby

    Between now and Oct 29th – Let others know that you are choosing NOT to listen to & to NOT watch Obama’s commercial. And encourage others to join in a national response to this media effort.

    Please join me by choosing to turn away from Obama’s efforts to control the outcome of this election by spending so much money on a one night media blitz.

    Tell all your family & friends to “Turn Off Obama-TV” on Oct. 29th!!

  2. maria yamat October 25, 2008 at 10:24 pm #

    i will be on your side i will not watch the obama network his arrogant and very elitist attitide scared me i was a democratic b4 now im voting 4 mccain and palin.

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