Knowing one’s place in Davos

January 27, 2009

The big, big question for the hordes of journalists churning up the fresh, Davos snow is not how to end global economic turmoil, but where their hard-won World Economic Forum accreditation allows them to roam.

A record cast of more than 40 heads of state and government,  more than 30 finance ministers and central bankers, as well as 1,400 business executives, will be hotly pursued by 400 journalists, colour-coded into white and orange badge holders.

The 200 snow-coloured badges are the most highly prized. Anyone holding one is considered a participant, who can contribute to the great debate on setting the world to rights. They can follow World Economic Forum delegates anywhere, provided the security guards allow.

Their footsteps will be measured by pedometers handed out to every white-badge holder who enters the running for The-One-Who-Can-Walk-The-Furthest contest as they attend this year’s relatively low-key dinners and comparatively demure cocktail parties.

Another 200 orange badge holders, whose footsteps will go uncounted but who did receive coveted WEF laptop cases, are allowed into press conferences and the Davos Congress Centre where the debates and panel sessions will unfold. But, orange badge holders will not be able to listen to the great debates. They will also be excluded from the best parties unless they can gate-crash their way in.

Last and definitely least, although not in number, is the army of “tech badge” holders, whose precise size has yet to be disclosed by blue-badged WEF officials when contacted by Reuters. They have extremely limited rights of access, and no pedometers or laptop cases — but at least they have been allowed up the snowy mountain.

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