The quest for the Holy Accreditation Grail

Teams change, drivers change, rallies change and cars change, but some things, like the speed of light or the FIA’s “Principles & Procedures” for media accreditation are not subject to alterations of any kind. Ever.

This is even more evident if you get so incredibly brave and ask for media accreditation for a website. After all, this Internet thing is still new, right? It’s not like it’s a major media and the one that will consume them all at some point and in some way.

But if you still persist, and begin your epic quest for this holy grail, you are faced with The Wall of Text that is FIA’s “Principles & Procedure”. If you look closely, however, you will notice that “3. TV and radio, websites and other electronic media must send their application to: North One Sport Accreditation Service”.

Mind you, North One Sport went bust last year, and since then new WRC season started with Monte Carlo and Sweden already behind us.

Not that it was any easier before. As far as I remember North One Sport never had a website, although I admit few years have passed since I last looked for information (I reiterate, information on how to get the darn thing, not the document itself). Yet I doubt things changed in the meantime. So you had no chance of learning the requirements for online photographers and journalists, those cheeky enough to consider themselves a valid media representatives. Instead you were faced with an email address, postal address and phone number. As if this was a website by some John Attorney’s office in the middle of nowhere, with his bio, services listed in bulleted list and “Contact Us” page consisting of his phone number.

I find it hard to understand why websites should be treated differently to printed media. Perhaps we should be happy about it given the amount of criteria printed media representatives must satisfy just to be considered for accreditation. But question about this separation still remains. Is it because Internet is “free”? Would it help if a website had it’s contents locked for general public and opened just for subscribers? Does that improve your chances and makes you and your work “appear” more professional and dedicated?

It’s great that had record amount of visitors during Rally Sweden weekend. Undoubtedly many of those visitors saw Nokia’s logos and ads on site, and it’s a win-win situation in which both Championship and it’s backers profit through increase in sport popularity and brand’s exposure. But why do we still need to have these ancient rules on issuing accreditation imposed on websites and independent photographers?

Of course there should be rules and criteria – by all means I would hate for WRC events to turn into family picnic days that are so called “press days” on major automotive shows, where you can see 9 year old “journalists” and their nannies pacing around with their Press ID tags. On the other hand, for a new media or upcoming photographer or reporter it’s impossible these days to even come into consideration for press accreditation. And I’m not talking here about super-enthusiastic fan looking for access to premium photo spots or service parks – instead I’m talking about new media entities, such as regional non-English online magazines with growing audience, but without the necessary backing of being part of major agency, writing about the sport for last 100 years or being able to name all capitals on northern hemisphere when woken up abruptly in 3 AM.

Internet can bring your Championship’s sponsors logos and messages across the globe in a second. It can also bring new fans to the sport, the ones not “lucky” enough to live in countries blessed with regular TV coverage… oh wait… and printed media that are regularly reporting about WRC. Please understand it for what it is – powerful “new” media that needs to be put to good use and for which new set of rules must be written.

For starters, let us (or rather those wishing to get accredited, I run but a small blog) just have a valid information on who to contact. Or is it still North One Sport?