The AIJC rep in Spain, Alasdair Fotheringham, had a meeting in March in Madrid with Unipublic’s Iván Gomez to discuss the Vuelta and the working conditions for journalists (including photographers, traditional and ‘new’ media) in the race and what can be done to improve them. The following points were covered.
- Confirmation of the UCI course for licences for journalists to enable them to drive in WorldTour races with a ‘green plaque’ (organisation permitting) to take place in Jerez de la Frontera before the start of the Vuelta a España, on Friday 22 August at 2 pm. The location where the meeting will take place will be sorted out closer to the time.
- Analysis of the areas that worked well in the 2013 race, which were: the press buffets; the accreditations system once the problem of initial access had been overcome; the working space in the press rooms (with some exceptions); the interviews with the winners (again, with some notable exceptions when they were far too short); the general working atmosphere and degree of collaboration from all members of the Unipublic staff in the press room; working conditions at starts and finishes; the website in general. It was also pointed out that the 2013 Vuelta was an exceptionally difficult one in terms of logistics that meant that it was a lot tougher to manage both for journalists and organisation.
- Press rooms. It was agreed that 9 pm was a provisionally acceptable latest time for it to close, although this time is subject to further debate with AIJC members and other users.
- Route book. It was agreed that three new features would be introduced for each stage, after it was pointed out that logistically they were very useful for journalists and the teams: distance from the finish to the location of the team buses; distance from the finish to the press room; distance from signing on at the start to team buses.
- Rather than the haphazard (and sometimes non-existent) way it has happened in previous years, it was agreed that the following information would be systematically delivered in the form of press releases both in email and paper format: 1. opening and closing times for the press room on rest days, before the Grand Depart and if there is an unusual time schedule, such as after the finish in Santiago on teh last day. 2. team and organisation press conferences 3. the times organisation buses for journalists will leave for finishes where access by individual vehicle is impossible. 4. Changes of timetable for the starts and finishes 5. Any one-off communiques from the organisation.
- Results: as an experiment for one year, only the following will be distributed to the journalists in thepress room: complete individual classification for stage and overall; classification for KoM/points/combined jersey/teams; the fabled ‘green sheet’ with the ‘compact version’ of all the different standings; the ‘film de l’etape’; medical communiques; changes of starts and finishing times; commissaires communiqués. The rest will be available only on the Vuelta website.
- Internet. The quality of this service was very uneven in 2013 with points in the third week where it was impossible to use and several journalists hotfooted it to their hotels to get some decent wifi. The organisation have promised to try and improve it.
- Press conferences with winner. In 2013, some of them were way too short, particularly the last one with Chris Horner as virtual winner on the morning of the final stage – 13 minutes and four questions, the kind of record we would not like to see repeated. This year it has been agreed that assuming margins between the top riders are not tiny (unlikely), then the final press conference will be on the Sunday morning in Santiago, rather than after the final stage, which finishes late in the evening. On a plus side, the translations were good.
- The Vuelta and the AIJC agreed they would keep the ‘lines of communication’ open, with this meeting to be repeated annually.