MarkLives refused media accreditation to The Loerie Award shows (again)

Date posted: August 8, 2012


by Herman Manson (@marklives) MarkLives (or to be more precise, me) have been refused media accreditation to the award shows of the 2012 Loerie Awards.

Lebogang Mohaule, Media Assistant at The Loerie Awards, confirmed that no accreditation to the two main award events would be forthcoming. Mohaule offered a single seminar pass for the rather grandiosely named International Seminar of Creativity taking place on Friday 21 September at Cape Town’s City Hall instead. I would also have access to “online press kits & official image gallery.”

Mohaule claims the Loeries “are following the same accreditation process used by the Cannes Lion Festival of Creativity” in which accreditation “is not based on the type of media you represent, rather [on] the planned media coverage.”

“Because we now receive more applications that we have availability, we have to determine the most suitable accreditation for each application,” wrote Mohaule. “If a media plan is not deemed of sufficient value, we do not provide accreditation.”

A look at the accreditation process for Cannes Lions shows that submitting a ‘media plan’ to the organisers is not a prerequisite for applying journalists. Cannes issues accreditation to “full time, professional journalists who wish to attend the Festival to report on the event.” It requires proof of press status (that you really are a journalist). Cannes does split  the ‘level’ of journalist accreditation into two parts – access to all Festival activities, award ceremonies and galas or access to all Festival activities and award ceremonies.

The Loeries also consists of festival activities, the award ceremonies and galas/VIP parties. It seems to have split the ‘level’ of accreditation into access to the press kit and the seminar and then everything else.

What to expect if you made the Loeries version of the ‘it’ journalist crowd? Access to VIP parties, the seminar at City Hall, access to both awards ceremonies, access to the Media Brunch and the Marie Claire Winners Party and the Official Party, access to the Media Centre, the two official Media Conferences and online Press Kits to be precise.

I would be perfectly content with the Cannes ‘b’ grade package – the very basic access to the seminar and awards ceremonies. But the Loeries offer is a slap in the face. I expect I received accreditation to the seminar just so the organisers would be able to deny not providing accreditation.

Not that you can really compare Cannes, which draws entries and coverage from around the globe, and the Loeries. There are but a handful of journalists in South Africa covering the advertising beat. You can probably count them on two hands.

The Loeries is supposed to be broadly representative of the industry. It is endorsed by the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA), the Creative Circle (CC), the Brand Design Council (BDC), the Commercial Producers Association (CPA), the South African Institute of the Interior Design Professions (IID), and the Public Relations Institute of South Africa (PRISA).

The Loerie organisers seem to be making a point. One that failed previously when my accreditation to the event was revoked and I was blacklisted (you can read an account of those events here).

It was made clear (to me as well as) to my then editor Simone Puterman, that “the Loeries would no longer deal with Herman [Manson] in any capacity whatsoever.” My access was reinstated at the time after a bit of media drama that also pulled in the SA National Editors’ Forum and the South African Media Interest Group.  Now my media access to this industry event seems to have purposely been curtailed again by the current game of ‘accredited non accreditation’.

Why is this more than a dumb spat between the organisers and a journalist? In a letter to the Creative Circle at the time of the blacklisting fracas I made the following point which still holds true today;

The Loeries belong to the entire creative industry with its complex dynamics and personalities and relationships, its many voices. This diversity should be celebrated, not denied or stifled. The Board of The Loeries, the Creative Circle and Mr Human need to dispel any notion that media accreditation depends on journalists towing the organisational line and writing sunshine journalism. Failure to do so creates pressure on journalists to censor themselves, and leaves accredited journalists in an untenable position which renders anything they write suspect, through no action of their own.

In the meantime I’m declining the offer for accredited access to the seminar. Media accreditation to the Loeries should include access to its three primary components – the seminar and the two awards evenings.

Update added 1012/08/10: Industry body The Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA) has sent me all access tickets to the Loerie Awards. This was facilitated by ACA chair and Lowe + Partners CEO Wayne Naidoo. They have my thanks.

This does not mean I have media accreditation. It does mean that I will attend the Loerie Awards in spite of the stance taken by the organisers of the Loerie Awards.

My point around Loerie accreditation and independent media coverage of this event is an issue that needs to be addressed by the Creative Circle and other bodies associated with the Loerie Awards.

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