I was just asked to do an interview for ABC's Guilt or Innocence spot, on a controversy involving the First Amendment. Sounds good; I like doing these things. As always, these gigs don't pay anything — perfectly fine by me.
To my surprise, though, while every other network I've dealt with sends a car to pick up and return the guest (based on my clear and fresh recollection, CNN, Fox, and MSNBC, but I'm sure that's been true of everyone else except perhaps the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer), the ABC people told me they didn't do this any more. What's more, their studio is way on the other side of Hollywood, which given afternoon traffic would likely be 45 minutes there and back.
If they had only sent a car, that would be one and a half hours that I could spend working. (Trust me, no-one wants this sort of a car for prestige, since there's no prestige to it; it's just a way of avoiding wasting more time than necessary.) If I have to drive myself, that would be one and a half hours that I'd spend driving through nasty traffic. And this so I can provide them a free service. I thus regretfully declined.
Seems like a pretty short-sighted move on ABC's part. They'll still get guests who have rarely done television, and see this as a great deal of fun. (I still see doing TV appearances as some fun, but not nearly as much as when I started.) They'll still get guests who have consulting careers they want to advance, or who are deeply ideologically invested in a position. But I suspect they'll lose quite a few people who are experienced, objective, and busy. Aren't those the very sorts of people they'd most want?
And, yes, I do see something amusing in a blogger complaining about a project that requires spending time with no payment . . . . Suffice it to say that blogging is fun, and driving isn't.
UPDATE: OK, score one for ABC, at least from my perspective: They're willing to have me on by phone, presumably with my picture on-screen. That might not be optimal television -- though given that they'll probably just have a sentence or two from me, I doubt it will matter much. But it sure is convenient for me.