Why Nation Media Group is setting bad precedent by charging journalists accreditation fees

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This week, I received a media invite from the Nation Media group about accreditation for the Pan African Media Conference. They were asking for $150 for journalists to cover the event.

I read the email again, it was not to participate, but to cover the event, you know, the journalists that come in just for the speeches by the big wigs. Before I could digest the shock, another email came, rectifying the figure to Kshs 2,500 (about $30); but I was still in a shock.

I was in shock because I know media houses have been against charging journalists to cover events. Think about management/motivational events that many people pay lots of money to attend but journalists get in free.

I was once asked for advice by someone organizing a management talk on those tips they did not teach you at Harvard Business school and i was against journalists paying a fee just to cover the event.

So, why is the Nation Media Group asking other media houses to pay in order to cover the event?

I was with some other tech journalists in the morning and we were joking that because the Nation is so big, they can afford to cover the event on their own, across all the platforms.

For others, it was a way for the Nation to get all the scoops by ensuring that they cover everything and lock out the others.

Anyway, I am sure the fee is not that much and other media houses can pay but will it be fair to ask other event organizers to allow journalists in free when other media houses charge accreditation fee?

By the way, the meeting has allowed some bloggers free, so will this be the first case where social media has trumped mainstream media?

Read the email sent below…

RE: PAN AFRICAN MEDIA CONFERENCE JOINTLY ORGANISED BY NATION MEDIA GROUP & AFRICA MEDIA INITIATIVE

We are pleased to invite you to cover the 2010 Pan African Media Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference with the theme, Media and the African Promise is a collaboration of the Africa Media Initiative and the Nation Media Group and will be held from the 18th-19th March 2010 at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. The event will reflect on the African media’s past, present and prospects for the future against the challenges of a dynamic globalised environment. The conference has been organised to commemorate Nation Media Group’s 50th Anniversary since the first copy of the Daily Nation rolled off the press.

This conference will draw attendance from leading media professionals from all over the African continent, speakers representing industry and policy development, as well as academic scholars and thinkers from the global media arena. The forum will encourage contribution and development of robust policy related to the operation and development of media in Africa.

Participants will explore issues ranging from the advent of citizen journalism where audiences generate and publish news using popular online platforms and new media such as SMS, MMS, MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube, to the role of media and civil society in solving Africa’s challenges, to governance democracy and other perspectives, to the emergence of a global media culture, to reporting change and crisis in Africa, and saving the African environment among others.

We have a great line-up of speakers including: H.E. Joaquim Alberto Chissano, former President of Mozambique, H.E. John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Alliance, and former President of Ghana, Dr. Hussein Amin, Professor and former chair of Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University in Cairo, Achim Steiner Acting on the nomination of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Dr. Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim, Sudanese-born British mobile communications entrepreneur, Professor Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and Mr. David Dadge, Director of the International Press Institute(IPI among others.

We invite you to cover the conference. For purposes of accreditation please send a list of the print, broadcast and photo journalists who will cover the event by Friday 12th March to Wanjiru Waithaka at the conference secretariat (wwaithaka@nation.co.ke). For each journalist we will require two (2) passport size photos, an official letter confirming he or she has been assigned to cover the event by your organization and accreditation fee of USD150 (or Sh10,000) payable in advance.

Follow-up email

Dear all,
With regard to the invitation below please note that the accreditation fee has been reduced to Sh2,500 PER journalist.

Regards,

Ends

2 COMMENTS

  1. You have raised some good concerns regarding a accreditation fee and maybe your speculations on the motives are possible. I do hope that your concerns will be addressed. However being a blogger, I am still in a celebratory mood as this is a groundbreaking moment for us.

  2. I think this gives a good look to the bloggers but I hope it will kind of make bloggers do whatever they doing in a more professional manner. there are some good blogs out here but some are not worth the cyberspace they occupying. In New York bloggers are now being issued with press-passes by the state and I hope the Kenyan government will consider that too..

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