Pity our friend Jeff Jarvis, president & creative director of Advance Internet, publishers of Web sites of more than 20 major American newspapers and for all the Conde Nast magazines. The Online News Association asked Jeff to sit on a panel about blogging at the ONA’s annual conference.
“But I just found out that they not only want me to fly to Chicago on my dime “and stay there on my dime (in a hotel with no Internet access — did they say this was the Online or Offline News Association?) and ruin my weekend (why would anyone have a conference on a weekend? — I smell a trend here and I don’t like it) and participate in creating the very content that is the conference … but then they want to charge me $475 for the privilege. That’s nerve,” Jeff writes in an entry entitled Cheap bastards his blog. So Jeff declined the ONA’s invitation.
Yes, how dare a non-profit organization that has no endowment, no funding, is operated out of its members pockets, and is devote to improving the ethics of online journalism, invite a senior executive of a multi-billion dollar company involved in online journalism and not reimburse his obviously considerable travel expenses from New Jersey to Illinois! Worse, this organization about online journalism dares hold its conference at a hotel that features only dial-up access! Of all the nerve, indeed!
We’ve accepted an invitation to moderate one of the ONA conference panels. Like Jarvis, we were blindsided by news that we’ll be billed a registration fee to speak at the conference. However, we’re willing support a well-meaning poor non-profit organization that could benefit by our participation and expertise, even if we have to pay a fee to give that knowledge to them at their request. If the ONA had an endowment or indepedent funding, we’d ask the ONA to waive these fees. But ONA is being funded out of its members own pockets. We don’t think it’s right for us to reach into our peers’ pockets for reimbursement.
As for using dialup access, well, don’t 80% of all Internet users? Get real, Jeff. Fly coach if you’re worried about the expenses. Would it help if we pass the hat and take up a collection to pay for your participation?