WASHINGTON — Representatives for news organizations who plan to cover next summer’s convention are protesting a move by the Republican National Committee to charge news media organizations a $150 access fee for seats on the press stand.
Seats on risers constructed for newspapers, magazines, wire services and online print publications have been awarded without charge in the past. Representatives for daily and periodical press galleries in the Capitol protested Monday that the media “should not be charged to cover elected officials at an event of enormous interest to the public.”
The four-day event will be held in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.
“We are concerned that the proposed fee smacks of forcing the press to pay for news gathering,” said Heather Rothman, chairwoman of the Executive Committee of Periodical Correspondents, and Jonathan D. Salant, chairman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents. “We urge the (GOP convention committee) to follow the precedent of previous conventions of both parties and drop plans for an access fee so the press can continue to inform the public about a major news event.”
The RNC says the $150 charge covers a fraction of the $750-per-seat construction cost. In addition to the precedent, the fee could prove burdensome to smaller news organizations. Television networks generally cover the cost of constructing their skyboxes.
“There is no access fee,” said RNC spokeswoman Alison Moore. “For outlets who prefer a special work station, there will be a minimal charge for construction at a fraction of the actual cost.”
The press organizations are responsible for credentialing media covering Capitol Hill, and staff aides in the congressional press galleries have run the press stand at both the Democratic and Republican conventions for decades, in part to prevent the political parties from playing favorites.