News gathering can be an expensive operation at times, especially when it comes to gathering it overseas. But the latest cost estimate to accompany President Obama on his upcoming trip to Asia has blown the minds and the budgets of many news organizations.
According to The Washington Post, the cost of a ticket to ride on the press charter that follows Obama throughout Asia will be a heart-stopping $60,000 per person. That’s just for the flights. It doesn’t include the cost of hotels, meals and shared “ground costs,” which include rental of a hotel ballroom to serve as a press filing center. That could add another $10,000 to the cost, bringing the total to a whopping $70,000 per person.
If the prices hold—the White House Correspondents Association is working hard to lower them—it will be the most expensive press-plane fare ever.
To be fair, President Obama isn’t entirely to blame for the outrageous prices, though his lame-duck status does play a role. The cost of the press charters is determined by competitive bidding among air carriers, and is based on how many people sign up to travel. The more who sign up, the lower the average cost, and in this case with just 51 people signing up the costs soared.
Another possible reason for the low demand to be on this trip is the general lack of access to Obama during these types of trips. This leads some news organizations to skip it altogether or to try to find a cheaper alternative to covering the trip.
Whatever the reason, it’s a lot for the media to swallow during a time that budgets are being slashed and reporters being laid off.
Obama’s relationship with the press is already on thin ice; this latest development will only serve to add to his press woes.