WASHINGTON--While Barack Obama is planning a Nov. 4 outdoor rally in Grant Park in Chicago, expected to attract thousands of people win or lose and scores of journalists who want to see the event for themselves in person, the McCain election night headquarters will be the Arizona Biltmore Hotel ballroom with only a press pool allowed in for coverage.
The package McCain's team is selling only has a pay-to-play option, without any no-frills pricing plan for reporters on a budget. Obama's campaign at least has a free option for a credential to a press area.
However, the campaign warned that turf may have obstructed views and no access to the filing center.
A column I wrote critical about the hefty Obama election night costs caught some attention, so here are the details of the McCain election night operation for comparison. First off, there is little open coverage.
Only a small number of reporters and cameras will be allowed in the McCain ballroom. There will be a press filing center, with the estimated cost $695 per-person covering space, power, internet, tv and food. There is no discount provision for a reporter who just wants access and table space and none of the other services.
If a reporter wants access to the Obama file center, to be constructed in Grant Park, the cost is $935. The cheapest place a reporter could stand on a riser with a view is $880, but that riser spot comes with four credentials.
Unlike the McCain campaign where there is no provision for a reporter who wants to cut costs, the Obama team did provide a free option, a general media area the campaign described as "outdoors, unassigned and may have obstructed views.
The free credentials do not include access to the press filing center, where Obama campaign staffers are likely to gather, so that option is no so appealing. Still, it offers a reporter something for nothing.
The Obama and McCain campaigns charge news organizations routinely to cover costs for travel, hotels, power, internet, cable tv and food. However, usually reporters who need none of those services cover events for free and get the same chance to mingle with campaign officials. Election night seems a different story.
FROM THE MCCAIN CAMPAIGN....
Workspace in the Press Filing Center
Workspace may be available for a fee. Space is limited and not guaranteed. The ESTIMATED cost is $695 per person.
Workspace will include:
Cable TV viewing
Food and Beverage service throughout election day
Telecommunications If you have additional telecommunications needs at the Press Filing Center / truck parking area / press risers, please contact ...AT&T will handle installation and billing for additional telecommunications needs.