Nick Clegg’s inaccessible press event

By Felix Salmon
January 27, 2011

One of the big changes to the ecology of the Davos conference center this year, after its $37 million revamp, is that there’s now a whole level at the top which is off-limits to the working press and accessible only to fully-fledged delegates with coveted white cards. There are a couple of conference rooms up there — called Aspen 1 and Aspen 2 — which is normally no big deal, given that the working press isn’t allowed in to conference sessions anyway.

One thing which hasn’t changed, however, is the way in which everybody bumps into everybody else in the conference center. Which is fine, just so long as you’re not deliberately keeping a very low profile and trying to avoid the press. Like Nick Clegg, for instance, with his 7% approval rating.

And so today we have a rather hilarious double oxymoron. Nick Clegg is having a press event, where he’ll be talking to Arthur Sulzberger; the email invite says that “sign-up is required as there are a limited number of seats available.” That makes sense, given how everybody’s wanting to talk to him right now. But then we’re told that “the session is off-the-record,” which is always disappointing, for a press event. And then we learn that it’s in Aspen 1 — it’s been deliberately put in one of the two rooms which the working press can’t get close to.

I won’t be reporting from the off-the-record press event which is closed to the working press, obviously. But it’ll be interesting to see how many people manage to get past the various hurdles to show up at all.

Update: About 36, by my count. And here’s a link to a  more up-to-date Reuters poll.


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What’s more, my understanding from write-ups of past WEF’s is that some journalists – the pundits, the Tom Friedmans of the world – are granted white badges. I guess there’s an unwritten understanding that, in exchange for top-level access, they’re not expected to act like journalists (ie ask tough, probing questions and accurately report what they see and hear). Of course, if they don’t do those things, it’s not clear to me why they should get the honor due to pundits, but I guess I just don’t know enough about journalism.

Posted by Basilisc | Report as abusive

no inducement is required to get Tom Friedman to not act like a journalist

Posted by johnhhaskell | Report as abusive