The access arbitrage

By Felix Salmon
July 2, 2009
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Call it the access arbitrage. As I noted in May, if you’re a senior editor at a major news publication, you can expect regular meetings with VIPs up to and including heads of state, substantially all of them off the record. You have lots of access, but very little money. On the other hand, if you’re a senior lobbyist, you have lots of money, and are desperate for access. So we shouldn’t really be surprised by this:

For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to “those powerful few” — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.

It’s incredibly sleazy, of course. But you can’t deny the economic logic. (Incidentally, this also helps explain why the biggest conference organizers are often publishers: they have built-in access to the VIPs without whom conferences could never happen.)

Update: Turns out that “the paper’s own reporters and editors” aren’t involved in this scheme. But the VIPs still are.

Update 2: The event’s been cancelled altogether.

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