This will make some authors deliriously happy, but RWA is no longer providing press passes to internet media at the annual convention.
Over the past several years, RWA has had a lenient Conference press-pass policy; however, due to the increased number of on-line outlets, RWA is no longer able to waive registration fees for Internet media, which include blog sites, fan sites, and review sites. Beginning with the 2008 Conference, an Internet media outlet must be affiliated with a nationally distributed media source in order to be eligible to receive a press pass.
Please know anyone considered to be Internet media is still welcome to attend the Conference by registering and paying the member or non-member registration fee.
I asked for a clarification of the word “affiliated” and received the following response:
Please understand the change in policy relates to all Internet media sites that are not sponsored by national media, such as Publishers Weekly, NY Times and Time Magazine. Any policy that RWA establishes must be one that can be objectively applied. The change was made due to the growing number of requests for press passes which impacts RWA in terms of expense, space allocation, and staff time. The purpose of RWA’s annual conference is to provide education and networking opportunities for authors, agents, publishing professionals, booksellers, and librarians. As the market has expanded, RWA is challenged to provide high-quality programs and services members have come to expect at the lowest price possible. In reviewing the overhead costs for the conference, the number of comps came under scrutiny. New standards were established for publishers who wish to earn comps by participating in appointments and workshops, and the number of press passes had to be limited as well.
As of this morning, there are nearly 600 registered attendees, which means this Conference will likely sell out. When registration maxes out, for every comped registrant, RWA must turn away members who would gladly pay to attend the event.
I can understand where RWA is coming from. I paid my registration fee last year and I’ve paid it again this year.
RWA’s decision to limit the number of comped registrants by excluding the internet media makes a distinction that is based, in my opinion, on who they feel is valid member of the press (of which I admit I am not). Given that romance is given so little press and what press it gets is not likely to be positive, it seems that excluding internet media on the basis that it is internet only and not a national media outlet is short sighted. After all, I doubt that RWA will exclude a local San Francisco paper from covering the event.
There is a resistance to bloggers and other online sites being designated as journalists. At the Consumer Electronics Show, there were press badges and blogger badges. There were certain events that only those with “press” passes were allowed. One person on the Gizmodo team was given a press pass and another a blogger pass. (and then Gizmodo did a really asinine thing which probably made CES rethink its grant of a press or blogger pass).
While I understand a need for an objective standard, for a sites like The Romance Reader or All About Romance which has been in existence for over 10 years and provide the community with a great service, this policy doesn’t help the genre.