Credentials Please – International AIDS Conference Edition

nlgjaIf you work for a major (or minor) traditional media outlet, getting credentials to attend events can be a hassle, but in my time as an editor I’ve never had credentials requests rejected for someone working for me (even freelancers).  But what if you own your own publication or news site, or  freelance writer trying to sell a story after attending an event.  Even worse, what if you are a blogger how isn’t employed by anyone except yourself?  The 2012 International AIDS Conference is only the most recent event creating challenges for bloggers who want to cover the event.

Here’s the requirements sent to a well-known blogger:

Internet journalists (Official news website):

  • The complete URL’s of three articles you have written that have been published by a recognized media outlet, with your byline on the article; AND
  • A letter from your editor (on the official letterhead of your organization) stating that he or she supports your application and that you have been assigned to cover the conference; AND
  • A copy of your press card. If you do not have a press card, your editor must state this clearly in the above letter.

Easy enough if you are a blogger who writes for Huffington Post but what if you have your own blog. Who is your editor? What if you don’t have letterhead? And what, for heaven’s sake, is a press card.

Now this is an international conference where journalists come from countries where press cards are issued to journalists. If you cover a government entity, you may have a press card or pass that gives you access. But why is that a barrier to entry for someone who doesn’t come from a country that credentials journalists or you don’t routinely cover government agencies or offices that require credentials (or you have been turned down because, well, you can see where I’m going).

How do bloggers and other freelancers satisfy these requirements? Are there examples of press credentialing policies that you have found to be effective?

At NLGJA, we’ve wrestled with how (or if) we can help bloggers and freelancers in this regard. Is a membership card enough to satisfy some of these requirements? Since we can’t possibly write letters for people looking for credentials, is there a way of assisting journalists who lack the traditional credentials without suggesting NLGJA is “endorsing” or “assigning” the journalist? Please use our comment section to brainstorm on how NLGJA can (or should) help.


One Response

  1. Events like this typically are cutting and pasting their requirements from rules they’ve used since the 90s.

    It;s worth contact the press officer of the event and asking them how best to deal with this. It may well be that a letter from you will be enough. The press card is something that certain cities provide in order to allow press in on political events. If you know ahead of time who needs to attend, freelancing for you, you can mention them and explain that, as a website, your writers don’t have city-issued press permits.

    I can see that they are trying to limit freelance coverage, and there’s a lot of good reasons why they might. Even small entertainment events get swamped with requests for free press passes and this event will naturally draw controversy (although, we’d hope that we are past that, we’re not.)

    So, first – contact the press office of the event and ask them for guidance. Secondly, assist your freelancers in putting together the best possible presentation of their work. Third, act as their editor and vouch for them. Chances are, at least a few will get those press passes. Then make sure you publish their articles or links to their articles, which will add legitimacy to those requests.

    Good luck!

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