How much did it cost to cover the DNC?

Here’s an accounting for what it cost me to cover the DNC. All costs are in Canadian dollars, taxes included.

  • Travel
    • Confederation Bridge Toll (twice!): $78
    • Gasoline: $30
    • Air Canada, Moncton to Boston: $531
    • Subway and taxi in Boston: $20
  • Lodging
    • Country Inn and Suites, Moncton: $100
    • Sheraton Braintree, Boston: $580
  • Internet Access
    • Sheraton Braintree: $18
    • Logan Airport: $10
  • Other
    • Meals: $50

Total cost comes out to $1417, or roughly $29/hour for my time on the ground in Boston.

Balanced against this is the income from the trip:

  • Generous grant from a donor: $500
  • Fee for reprint of blog in National Post: $100

Total real cash income was $600, which makes the real cost of the trip $817.

If I were concerned with things like this, which I am not, you could also count the exposure in the media as a sort of income. For example, the 250 agate lines of weblog reprint in the National Post is worth $3820 if seen as an advertisement.

Several reporters asked me why I would do something like this. CBC Radio reporter Pat Martel asked me, Gordon Sinclair style, “was it worth the money you spent?”

Having had some time to think about this, my best answer to the “why” is “because I’m an inveterate collector of experiences.” In lieu of formal education, I’ve choosen instead to learn about the world by playing around in various parts of it. I didn’t go to Boston, really, out of civic duty, out of interest in the political process, or even because of a passion for weblogging. I went because I knew it would be interesting, because I would learn something, because it would be an experience unlike any other.

And it was.

Thanks to those that helped, financially and logistically, to those that provided commentary to my posts, and pointed me in the right direction. And thanks to Catherine and Oliver for putting up with my eccentricities.


oliver's picture
oliver on July 31, 2004 - 15:16 Permalink

I think with your expense tally you’ve got a sense of how a freelance journalist sometimes squeezes out a living…only barely, that is. Let’s see: You you went to this event on a whim and got no editor to pay your way. You were two days there and traveling about a day, so let’s say, being moderately industrious and lucky, you wrote and sold three three-hundred word news stories from the experience at $1/wd. You just took in $900 (what were your expenses again?). If your luck persists, afterwards you’ll pitch and sell the idea for a two-thousand word feature story about the experience overall or something you sniffed out there. Your feature might fetch $1.50/wd, bringing in another $3000 that you can attribute to your trip. But it will have taken you anywhere from an additional two weeks to a month of fulltime work to write.

Andy's picture
Andy on August 4, 2004 - 21:44 Permalink

If I were concerned about things like this, which I am not”…c’mon. You are so!! I’m busting your chops here, but I enjoyed your coverage. Oh yeah, just wanted to make another comment. I think that trying to cover an event such as the DNC Convention is akin to trying to cover the Iraqi war while “embedded” with troops. In neither case is it possible to get the proper context as to what is really going on. I have heard in several instances that the “vibe” in the Fleet Center was at times vastly different from what was felt by television viewers.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on August 4, 2004 - 21:46 Permalink

Mike (Andy), I didn’t mean to suggest that I’m not concerned with fame and fortune, nor that media exposure isn’t enervating, simply that the dollar value attached to media exposure isn’t “real” value to me because we’re not really in the business of trying to cultivate new clients through the media. IBM is trying to build their brand; we’re not.

Ken's picture
Ken on August 5, 2004 - 15:17 Permalink

If Being Peter Rukavina was a movie this is the portal into your mind.

What is the difference between watching people watch a giant TV, and watching the giant TV?

American voters elect a TV image of a person that is as scripted by method as American Idol.

oliver's picture
oliver on August 5, 2004 - 21:18 Permalink

I suspect there’s something about speaking in front of 50 million people and generations of historians that makes one want to rehearse a little beforehand and perhaps even to write down what you’re going to say. Candidate debates are where we’re supposed to get to see some spontaneity and on-the-feet thinking. Unfortunately Bush and his handlers have just enough respect for the electorate to know that this would be bad for his image.