Obama Charging Big Bucks for Press Credentials

Thumbing through my feeds today, I came across a rather disturbing post from John Harrington over at Photo Business News and Forums.  Essentially, if you are covering Obama’s election night event in Chicago, you have to pay anywhere from $715 to $1815 for press credentials.

Harrington points out that it’s not unusual “to have the media paying for the construction of risers, tents, and so forth”; however, charging media for access alone is offensive.  Chicago Business points out that:

The only free admissions are for a “general media” area. But, the memo says, “Please note that the general media area is outdoors, unassigned and may have obstructed views . . . standing room only.”

Lynn Sweet, a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, also chimed in on the issue noting:

This is an outrageous pay to play plan that caters to national elite outlets with deep pockets.

While the comments on the news posts linked to above get pretty intense and are clearly politically charged, I’d like to ask your opinion about charging for media credentials for access to an event.

Keep in mind, this isn’t the first time that we’ve see press credentials become an issue in this campaign.  Some press members were put off by the fact that Obama’s press credentials carry a big slogan “Change We Can Believe In” above the smaller-sized word “Press”.  (Discussion here.)

Another poster in the same discussion pointed out that “at McCain events, all you have to do is show your regular press credentials at the door, and they give you the event’s press pass. No pre-registration necessary. Not so with Obama’s campaign.”  Finally, CBS reported on McCain’s spoof press credentials, which took a stab at Obama’s purported favor with the media.

So, what are your thoughts on the press credential issues?



  1. Ano says

    Whats the problem, if media wants converage to sell their media they ought to pay for getting the material right?

  2. Jeff says

    I disagree with Ano, particularly since that is not common practice and the McCain camp doesn’t do the same. I know that my local paper would not pay that kind of money. I have a friend who is City Editor there and he said they can’t afford it and they wouldn’t do it on principle.

    I’ll try not to get too political, but it’s strange that Obama is the candidate of “the people” and the “middle class” but he wants to charge for press access? How odd.

  3. Roderick says

    I agree with Jeff, except there’s nothing strange about it. He’s a politician and as such he’ll never fail to disappoint or disillusion…

    WTF does this have to do with digital cameras anyhow?? Let’s keep it on the straight and narrow Eric…

  4. Rain says

    I agree with Ano. There is no such thing as a free lunch, you know. You pay for what you get. Maybe it is because McCain has lesser coverage that he can afford to have it for free.

  5. PHB says

    What you will probably find is that the victory party committee is completely separate from the campaign and has no fund raising apparatus of its own.

    It is not a campaign event, the campaign is over at that time. It is probably not legal to use campaign funds. And Obama cannot call on party funds either.

    The press want to have a media spectacle but there are very few legal ways to pay for it. There are a limited number of prime spots for photography, selling them is somewhat more democratic than playing favorites.

    Its easy to find people to fund a victory party if you win. But at least one of the campaigns is going to have lost and will have laid out several $100K for security and all the features you need at an event with potentially thousands of people.

    McCain can afford to do the party for free because he is not anticipating much more than a concession speech at this point. Their current strategy appears to depend on winning Pennsylvania, a state they are 10 points behind in.