Computerworld barred from taxpayer funded NZICT event

Reporter turned away from Industrial Research Limited sponsored event; Update: NZICT says reporter didn't RSVP

Computerworld reporter Stephen Bell was last night turned away from an NZICT event in Wellington that was sponsored by Industrial Research Limited, despite being invited by the organisation’s communications manager Paul Clearwater.

Clearwater’s invitation described the event as follows: “This year we have invited a senior delegate from the Government as our keynote speaker to present on the recently released NZ ICT Roadmap and new Government Procurement initiatives for 2012 and beyond.”

“We are also pleased to have Industrial Research Limited (IRL) as sponsors for this event, who will brief us about the exciting journey they are embarking on to transform themselves into the “Hi-tech HQ” for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”

When Bell tried to attend however, he was told by NZICT chairperson Bennett Medary it was “members only”. Clearwater, who was also present, asked Bell if he had RSVPd to the invitation. Bell acknowledged that he probably hadn't and left.

Earlier this week Computerworld editor Sarah Putt, who was invited by Clearwater to a similar Auckland event next week, had her RSVP rejected, and was told it was because the event was oversubscribed.

We contacted NZICT CEO Candace Kinser this morning to find out why Computerworld has been dis-invited from these events, and was told that the organisation had been "misrepresented" in this publication.

Kinser also denied that Bell had been invited to the Wellington event. Computerworld has this morning sent Kinser a copy of Clearwater’s correspondence.

UPDATED 10.40am:

NZICT CEO replies to Computerworld:

"Thank you for your call before and your email. NZICT is holding a series of functions in Wellington and Auckland for members and invited guests. We asked for RSVPs some time ago so that we could get an idea on numbers, and we had an overwhelming response.

"If you were invited and did not RSVP on time, then I’m afraid that we could not include you on the attendee list once we reached capacity.

"In the case of your reporter, Stephen Bell, we never got an RSVP from him, so he was not on the attendee list. We were also at maximum numbers for the size of the event last night when he showed up after it had begun.

"In your case, you were not rejected from our event. You replied on Thursday last week and unfortunately, by that stage, we were oversubscribed for our Auckland event. I believe my Communications Manager, Paul Clearwater, has already explained this to you.

"We will be videoing the event and posting excerpts on our website from the Auckland event should you like to view in the future. Other media did RSVP quite a while ago and will be in attendance to our Auckland event, thus I am positive that public interest will be provided for through our video content and other media coverage."

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