World / Davos Forum

An even earlier bird is required at Davos

By Fu Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-20 07:46

The chance to toss a question to dozens of state leaders, as well as 2,500 leading lights in business, opinion and media, is not one to be scoffed at.

But the warm glow faded somewhat when I realized I had to spend three hours commuting in the early morning and late at night by train between the hotel and the conference center.

To be frank, I have mixed feelings toward covering the World Economic Forum in freezing weather in Davos, a small ski resort tucked away in a Swiss valley where finding a hotel room can be an exercise in frustration. Normally, there is ample accommodation for skiers set to conquer the slopes, but when a global economic conference is being held, a vacant hotel room is unheard of.

This week is my fifth consecutive Davos. But past experience doesn't lighten the burden of tight schedules, conducting numerous interviews and filing articles with unforgiving deadlines, nor the hours spent waiting for trains during the commute.

A logical approach is required. Quality journalistic work needs planning.

This year, three journalists from China Daily Europe and one from Beijing have joined the coverage. The team was unable to find a single room in December but we did manage to secure lodgings in a tiny hotel in a town about 90 minutes away by train.

We considered ourselves fortunate.

Our journalist from Beijing, who is covering Premier Li Keqiang's tour, will be based in Zurich, much farther away.

I have complained to the organizers many times, but the response is the same: Journalists must handle their own arrangements.

This typical business-as-usual mindset will not trigger change, which, considering everything, is deeply ironic. After all, the essence of Davos is innovation, change, looking at problems and finding a solution. Once more, I venture to humbly offer Davos a tentative solution.

Organizers need to calculate accommodation capacity within, say, a 30-minute drive radius, and then allocate about 10 percent to journalists. That should ensure that every invited journalist has a nearby room.

Davos is located in what real estate agents would call a picturesque setting. In other words, it is far from the major population centers.

I admire Klaus Schwab, 76, founder and executive chairman of the event. In a recent interview with him, I asked routinely what is the biggest challenge the world faces, and he replied that it was rising inequality.

A nearby room for a journalist does not figure in, but surely Schwab's team can help sort out better arrangements for those who, after all, help publicize the event.

Switzerland is a country that prides itself, and rightly so, on a sense of fairness and equality. The forum should devote more of its undoubted organizational ability to making sure that every journalist covering it has the means, including a nearby room, to do the job.

Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, I am preparing to get up at 5 am to catch a train and rub the sleep from my eyes before participating in a so-called early-bird debate in Davos.

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