A meeting was held February 25th in Madrid to discuss both the Vuelta a España and the working conditions for all journalists at the 2015 race, and how to continue to improve them in the upcoming edition of the Vuelta a España in August/September 2016.
By Alasdair Fotheringham
Present at the meeting were Philippe Sudres and Amaury Baudin from ASO, Ivan Gomez from Unipublic and Alasdair Fotheringham for the AIJC. The AIJC’s report on working conditions from the 2015 Vuelta a España was used as the basis for the discussions.
It was pointed out that overall there was a steady improvement in working conditions year-on-year at the Vuelta. The press room and race staff were generally friendly, cooperative places to work in and assistance from Unipublic’s race staff was generally very satisfactory.
The most notable improvement compared to 2015 was the Internet, which was now working well and fast after years of extremely difficult ‘connectivity.’ Other areas working very well and with no or little need of changing – although with certain glitches – are the signalling in the race, the website in general, the race live-ticker, parking at the finishes, buffet services (with two ‘sittings’!), the post-stage translation and interview system (much improved in recent years), the route book.
Going through the points raised in the original AIJC report, it was agreed that
– the history of the Vuelta, missing for over a year, would once more return to the race website and in the original format in the very near future.
-Accreditation: PS commented that there had been difficulties and sizable delays for some fulltime journalists to get their accreditations, despite having taken all the steps theoretically necessary on the website. It was promised that the accreditation system would be given an overhaul.
-Route books: it was agreed to increase the number of route books printed by the organisation so that situations like last year when some journalists present for the whole last week were given maps would not arise again.
-Presse avant/presse arriere. It was promised that, as the AIJC has been asking for for several years, a separate press avant and press arriere area for vehicles would be created for the starts in 2016.
-The issue of the need for a lot more televisions in the press rooms was raised again. Tthe number of tvs will be doubled, from two to four.
-Results. The severely deficient nature of the printed results service was commented on, yet again. Unipublic have promised it will be improved, with stage results and overall results printed quickly and in a legible format, neither of which has always been the case in the past. It was agreed that other classifications, as well as the commissaires and medical reports, should also be printed out and made available.
-General information: the need for emails informing the press of bus departure times for difficult or inaccessible summit finishes, along with emails informing the press of the opening times of the press room on rest day was once again underlined.
-Media spaces at finishes. It was agreed that the possibility of a specific media space, with chairs and a television broadcasting the race inside some kind of tent, should be investigated for the finishes of a difficult nature.
-The ongoing question of the presence of accredited but non-professional journalists at the race – and bike races in general – continues to be discussed. It was suggested one possible solution would be to look at how this tricky question was dealt with in other sports.
It was also agreed the last press conference for the outright winner will likely be held at the stage finish on the Alto de Aitana, therefore freeing up both journalists and riders for the transfer to Madrid that night or the next morning. It was requested by AF that the winner of the womens’ WorldTour be present for interview after the Madrid round of the women’s WT on the Vuelta’s final Sunday.
For logistical reasons, the initial pressroom of the Vuelta for the opening stage will not be at the stage one finish, which is some distance from Ourense, but in the capital of the province with a videoconference for a winner. It was agreed that journalists present in person at the finish would be able to attend the videoconference.
It was agreed that Ivan Gomez and Alasdair Fotheringham would ‘touch base’ a few weeks before the Vuelta for an update on questions like press rooms and access to summit finishes, with information then passed on to the AIJC.