G20 Dispatches: The Swag That Accredited Journalists Get
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G20 Dispatches: The Swag That Accredited Journalists Get

Christopher Bird and Christopher Drost are Torontoist’s staffers accredited for the G20. They will be reporting on the inside for the duration of the summit; Torontoist’s complete G20 coverage, including reporting from the streets, is here.
Torontoist has staff accredited to cover the G20 summit. This is a big deal to us. Maybe not so much to you, but it means we have people Inside The Big Show, giving you the real dirt on what happens at a major multinational summit such as this one!
Well, we hope. But more important than even that is the fact that, as members of the accredited media, we get free stuff. “Free” in the sense that we didn’t pay for them and rather Canadian tax dollars did, anyway. Here’s what’s contained in the swag kit given to all members of the press.

What All the Journalists Get

A Roots reusable shopping bag. It has a shoulder strap and velcro and everything. This is about three steps above your standard supermarket-issue reusable shopping bag. It is almost a reusable shopping purse. Swanky!
A big flat booklet about the TTC: its history, how it’s financed, how it is environmentally friendly, a bit about Transit City, et cetera. Presumably this is meant for journalists to read when they have nothing else better to do, which is odd because in addition to all the usual media summit stuff at the media centre, they have large flatscreen televisions which they promise will be broadcasting all the World Cup games in glorious high-definition. So maybe the TTC booklet is for the bored journalists who don’t like soccer or man-made lakes.
A week-long TTC pass, which comes stapled to the booklet.
…and which is important, because journalists will no doubt want to go to the places mentioned in the complimentary copy of Toronto Magazine, published by Toronto Tourism. Contains four pages about TIFF (because no matter when you visit Toronto somebody has to tell you about TIFF); a “neighbourhoods guide” that ignores the entirety of Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, Rosedale, and Thornhill, but manages to point out that maybe visitors should visit scenic Markham; and a terrifying portrait of Jim Carrey on page eight.
A “G20 Toronto” notepad. Everybody loves notepads!
A Muskoka-branded “Eco Pen” made of wood. So far, out of two of these we have used, two have broken.
A G8 Muskoka booklet, which is about ninety percent ads for Muskoka businesses. Significantly missing: the ad for the guy who makes the Muskoka pens.
A steel water bottle, with “Canada 2010 Summits” on the side. Not “G20,” you’ll notice. Presumably this is the steel water bottle they give out at every summit that happens in Canada this year. That way they can order them in bulk.
A collection of Toronto postcards, using at least some photography from a contest the city held some time ago. (At least one photographer represented on the cards who spoke to Torontoist doesn’t remember giving permission for their work’s use, though the contest rules of the time would seem to render that complaint moot.)

What Only Some Journalists Get

But wait! In addition to the aforementioned swag, members of the media accredited to the International Media Centre rather than the Alternative Media Centre (read: the one with the fake lake versus the one with no fake lake and less access) get a little more swag. International Media Centre swag bags also include:
A small bottle of maple syrup from Matthews Maple Syrup in Powassan, Ontario. It is, rest assured, quite tasty syrup, which explains why you don’t want to give it to just anybody.
A hard plastic shell for an iPhone or iPod Touch. The label on the case for the shell screams, in large type, “VIEW 3D CONTENT,” but the hard plastic shell does not let you do this particularly well. If we owned iPhones or iPod touches, we would feel very scammed.

Some accredited journalists here have told us that the media bags compare poorly to previous media bags (one NGO representative waxed fondly about the Scotland G8 summit in 2005, where the bag was sturdy burlap, and contained a “sizable” bottle of Glenfiddich), but personally we here are thankful for our free stuff. Torontoist would like to thank all its readers for our swag, which you paid for. Rest assured we will put it all to best journalistic use. Except for the broken pen.
Photos by Christopher Drost/Torontoist.