In an exciting bit of pre-debate frisson, journalists covering the presidential debate at Hofstra University are now Tweet they have to pay $200 for Wi-Fi access on site and, more importantly, the ones who have paid now have no Internet at all.
Journalists attending the event were required to “rent” the Wi-Fi for $200 for five devices – not an uncommon or unprecedented request. What truly galled, however, was the suggesting that Hofstra dongle police would confiscate and shut down anyone trying to run their own hotspot, an act that borders just on the edge of “patently unlawful” according to the FCC. Plus as of this writing the Wi-Fi seems to be spotty at best.
Obviously it’s not Hofstra’s responsibility to pay for a news outlet’s power or Internet. However, when the rate card includes space in a Digital Darkroom for $75 and the Internet goes down immediately it’s a little hard to claim moral superiority over the poor hacks hunched over liveblogging rigs tonight.
In the end this is a tempest in a Long Island Iced Tea as we all know that the instant a journalist is banned for firing up a personal hotspot we’ll enjoy a delightful and embarrassing Periscope from the show floor. In the end it will be business as usual – journalists will suffer with bad Wi-Fi while event organizers scramble to reboot a Cisco router that is on the verge of melting into a silicon pancake and thus the great wheel shall spin.