The Democratic National Convention has opted not to charge print media for a seat in the convention hall in July, more than a month after the GOP decided to do so.
"As has been the practice in past conventions, we do not plan to charge media for the writing press stands in 2016," April Mellody, a DNC spokeswoman, wrote Monday in an email to Roll Call. The decision comes after the Republican National Convention decided in October that members of the print media would have to shell out $150 for a seat in the custom-made press stands in their convention hall, which would include a chair, a desk and access to electricity. The GOP argued that the charge was not an access fee, but an attempt to offset the cost of building the work stations.
The press' representatives sharply criticized the unprecedented move, arguing the charge amounted to a "pay-to-play" scenario. The journalists who lead the standing committees that represent the Capitol press galleries also argued the charge could discourage smaller outlets from covering the GOP convention, which will be held in Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena from July 18 to 21. The Democratic convention is set for the following week in Philadelphia.
"I'm thrilled that the Democrats are continuing with the precedent of not charging for reporters to access the writing media press stands," Bloomberg BNA's Heather Rothman, chairwoman of the Executive Committee of Periodical Correspondents, wrote in an email to HOH. "I hope the Republicans will reconsider their decision."
"We are pleased that the Democratic convention will not reverse decades of precedent and charge an access fee for reporters to cover public officials at an event of public interest," said Jonathan Salant, who chairs the Standing Committee of Correspondents for the Daily Press. "Editors and bureau chiefs from around the country have asked the Republicans to do the same."
Disclosure: Roll Call Capitol Hill Editor Jason Dick is a member of the Executive Committee of Periodical Correspondents.