For the first time since I published my first newspaper article somewhere in 2002 a conference organizer is demanding money from me to cover one of their events. Not just money, no no NO! We are talking US dollars, not South African Rands. And we are talking 1555 of them.
That is right: the South African Coal Exports Conference 2011, scheduled to take place in Cape Town in February, is seriously wanting to charge me about month’s income so that I can generate free publicity for a) the conference b) the conference delegates c) the conference sponsors.
Now that is what I call über greedy to the core!
In addition: news should be freely available so that we, journalists can inform you, the public, about what is going on. The news comes in various shapes and sizes, and conferences like these are usually a great source of news. With the media (in South Africa and elsewhere) feeling the pinch and still struggling with the aftermath of the crisis, there is no way they can pay for journalists to attend conferences.
I asked the woman, who replied to my media accreditation request, if I had indeed understood her correctly about the charges. “Yes, all press are paying”, she replied curtly. “I doubt that,” was my reply. “The press is usually not paying to cover events like these. Please let me know if you have a change of heart.”
As a friend and fellow freelancer commented: “I reckon they’ll find that no press pitch, and then wonder why not.”
Exactly. The problem however is that I am now missing out as one of my clients was very interested in various stories on the conference.
It does make me wonder … The most efficient way to keep nosy journalists at bay without telling them they are not welcome (which will see you end up in deep kaka) is to charge them a ridiculous fees.