Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 5/5/2004Become a computer journalist, and travel the world! But it can go so wrong, as two of our number found out when they jetted over to Munich for a big announcement from a big American company who was doing something with a big British telco.

Wednesday 5/5/2004
Become a computer journalist, and travel the world! But it can go so wrong, as two of our number found out when they jetted over to Munich for a big announcement from a big American company who was doing something with a big British telco. The trouble started when they got to the hotel at lunchtime, checked in and asked the PR: "Right, where do we go for the action?"

"Um, don't know. Nobody's given us a schedule yet," said the PR. Three hours of limbo later, the company worked out where they wanted the hacks, and off they went -- only to find the doors to the conference room locked. "It's started. You can't go in" said the bouncer. "But you can go into the next one". The next one started an hour later. "Can't go in" said the new bouncer. "Analysts only."

By now, the freelancers also invited had actually found out two pieces of information. First, the announcement they came over for had been made in the US three hours earlier. This led to their second discovery: lots of other people sitting at home had already written it up, so there was no chance to sell the story. You can imagine the shouts of glee.

Finally, one of our number had promised to do some one-on-ones, interviews where it's just you, the executive in question and a PR minder or two. These are useful, because if you're good you can usually get something that nobody else has, but you have to do your homework. This is, of course, impossible if you're not told who you'll be seeing or what it's going to be about -- and guess what happened here.

As for wireless network access -- or even decent cellphone coverage -- forget it. Not on the menu. "It was like being held in an isolation cell" said one very angry hack, whose temper had not been improved by the 7:30 a.m. flight the following morning.

Total disaster all round.