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How far before hotel?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by big green wahoo, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. I'm curious as to what folks here think is a long enough driving trip by a reporter so that it requires an overnight stay? Obviously, there are some places (West Texas?) where you can't really go anywhere without being on the road for hours and hours, so that's probably a different animal.

    But in a general sense, does six hours round trip in a single day plus covering a 3- or 4-hour event warrant the paper paying for hotel?

    When I was a pup, I'd drive 12 hours round trip, cover a game and stroll back into the office that night without a thought. Now that I'm older, my tolerance for such days/drives is a lot lower.

    I suspect there will be answers on either end of the spectrum on this one. Just wondering what your thoughts are. Thanks.
  2. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I think it varies. Three hours in the middle of the day isn't the same as driving from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. after a late game and file. Bosses should be sympathetic to that and cough up hotel $$ instead of putting a tired reporter behind the wheel, but whether they can or will of course is often another story.
  3. Oggiedoggie

    Oggiedoggie Well-Known Member

    A lot depends on how much money is left in the budget after the reporter pays the price of admission to get into the event.
  4. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    More than a few times I've driven five hours to a game, covered the game and driven back. Usually that was by choice. Sometimes I would have to get back for a press conference the next day.

    By the same token, I've covered games two hours away from my house and gotten a hotel. It all depends on the situation.
  5. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    If it's an afternoon event, I'd say drive home. But if it's at night, I would say stay in a hotel.
  6. It depends on the situation. If I think I can arrive back by midnight, or maybe 1 a.m., I don't need a hotel. If I don't, I won't bother with one.

    For instance, the team I cover plays a game that's a three-hour trip south. But the game starts at 7:35. I'm going to need a hotel that night. I wouldn't if it was playing a team that was seven hours away, but the game started at 1. I'd drive back that day.
  7. sportsguydave

    sportsguydave Active Member

    If it were up to me, anything that required a reporter to be on the road after midnight would be cause for getting a hotel - especially on a weekend. Too many drunks on the road at that hour.
  8. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    Ha! This thread is amusing.

    First football game this season I was going 4 1/2 hours away. I knew I wouldn't be done working until 11 p.m. at the earliest, so I booked a room. I mean, I could have travelled two hours north and stayed with my grandma, but I thought this would be a case where getting a room was kosher.

    First response from the highers-up?

    "If he needs a hotel room, he doesn't need to go."

    Keep in mind, the team I cover was ranked No. 13 to start the season. Some comprimising from my SE resulted in that one being reimbursed. But my longest basketball trip (seven hours round trip, done by 11 p.m.)? No hotel allowed. So basically, I either fall asleep at the wheel and die, pay for a hotel out of my own pocket, or don't go at all.

    Which brings me to a question I have. If I pony up the $$$ myself for a hotel room, can I turn that receipt in at tax time?
  9. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    If you itemize, yes you can turn in that receipt. But only itemize if you've got more $$ in receipts than the standard deduction.
  10. That's something I didn't consider. I guess I'm just trying to save my paper some money when I can. If I don't have to get a hotel, it's more likely that we have money for another trip.
  11. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Nice cross thread...
    But seriously, depends on the time of the event.
    You can cover a noon game by leaving at 7 a.m. and heading back that night. 7 p.m., not so much.
    And it will also depend on how you get paid. I remember our ASE getting pissed off at me covering a Michigan-Ohio State game in Columbus.
    Noon start Saturday, the other writer and I drive down on Friday. The paper has booked hotels for us on Saturday for some stupid reason and we decide we're getting out of Columbus ASAP. (1996, Michigan won; the natives were pissed).
    We leave for the stadium at like 8 a.m., cover, file and leave the stadium at like 6 p.m. (he was slow and thorough.) Get back to Ann Arbor at like 11 after a food stop.
    I put in my hours and the ASE stamps his feet and get pissed that I put in for a 15 hour day. He felt we should have stayed in Columbus the extra night so they didn't have to pay OT. Never mind I also had stories to work on on Sunday. "I thought you'd spend the night!" he said. I countered with "It's a noon start. Why the hell would I want to spend that night in Columbus when I could be in my own bed by 11 (OK, it was 3 after I got home from the bar, but still)
    So it depends on when the game starts and how far it is.
  12. sportsguydave

    sportsguydave Active Member

    Hopefully, safety trumps saving money... (yeah, I know... I'm dreaming)

    Last winter, I had to drive home from Indy after covering the state wrestling tournament all day ... left home at 5 a.m. to be at Conseco Fieldhouse by 9... by the time I filed my stories/photos and worked through it all with the desk ... it was midnight.

    Add another half-hour to pack up, get to the car and navigate my way back to the freeway ... and a 3 1/2 hour drive home .. and it was 4 a.m. before I got home. On a Saturday night. If I'd had the money, I'd have gotten the room myself.
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