It’s unlikely anyone without ink stains is going to shed tears over the Washington Post story today that journalists are being charged $60,000 each to ride on the press plane that will tail President Obama on his upcoming Asia trip.
But buried deep in the story is the reason that should be somewhat concerning: The price is so high because so few news organizations are covering the trip.
In this case, only two charter carriers bid on the trip, and the number of passengers who signed up to travel was relatively low — an average of just 51 passengers as of Thursday, or about half the usual number. Among others, the TV networks, the wire services and the New York Times are sending smaller contingents than usual. The Washington Post will have one reporter on the trip. Among other outlets committed to traveling on the press charter are the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, the Wall Street Journal and Tribune Newspapers.
The result of fewer passengers is increased costs for everyone on board. Based on 51 travelers for each of the trip’s five legs, the prorated cost for each leg would wind up at about $12,000.
The smaller media contingent might reflect declining interest in Obama, particularly given his lame-duck status immediately after the midterm elections, some White House correspondents said.
There are, apparently, more important things to cover.