Saturday, October 25, 2008

PRE$$ PA$$

I'm in the end zone. The crowd erupts. TOUCHDOWN!!!

It's no fantasy. It's really happened. No, I wasn't the one with the ball, but the guy with the camera shooting highlights for the evening news.

One of the perks of being a TV reporter in Nebraska is the access to big time college football. Texas, Oklahoma, USC, and Virginia Tech are just a few of the schools I've seen.

It takes a press pass to get that kind of access. Of course, I'm not always the guy on the sideline or in the end zone. Sometimes I have to go to the photo box on top of the stadium. You have to take stairs up to the roof to get there.

Make no mistake about it, covering a game is work. I've put in 16 hour days, schlepping a camera for hours. You take a play off, and so does the defense. As soon as you turn the camera off, someone scores.

While we don't pay to get in, we do pay to get there, and pay to park.

Big time politics is the same way. From what I understand, it's not unusual for the TV folks to pay to park their satellite trucks. Those on the campaign press planes pay for their travel. Reporters at big campaign stops pay for internet access and phone lines.

But paying just to cover the event? I thought that was unheard of.

Until now.

This year the two presidential campaigns have what amount to a pay-for-play plans for election night.

No media get in free to John McCain's post-election party according to a columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times.

Barack Obama has a free option -- if you want to huddle into a tent watching a TV with other journalists. If you want a good seat, be ready to shill out $1000 or more. Main riser? Pay $1870. Don't believe me? Look at Obama's website.

Columnist Lynn Sweet said in this piece about Obama's plans, "This is an outrageous pay to play plan that caters to national elite outlets with deep pockets."

I agree.

Journalists are considered the fourth estate. They play an important role, that frankly shouldn't be restricted by who can afford to pay.

Yeah, it's not a problem for CNN, ABC, or the Washington Post. But is it limiting coverage by alternative voices or smaller market outlets?

Every journalist should be able to cover this historic election freely, unhindered by finances. I think this sets a dangerous precedent.

Even with the TV contracts in big time college football, members of the local media still get in free. But we're not talking sports, we're talking about the next president. Do you want to limit news coverage to those with the deepest pockets?

1 comment:

Mark said...

I agree. That's just ridiculous.