Tag Archives: True North Media House

Media Accreditation Denied from London 2012 Olympics

For the record.

————- Forwarded message —————
From: Riley D. <redacted address>
Date: 2010/12/17
Subject: London 2012 press accreditation
To: “dave@truenorthmediahouse.com” <dave@truenorthmediahouse.com>

Dear Dave,

On behalf of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), we regret to inform
you that we are unable to fulfill your request for media accreditation
for the 2012 Olympic Games at this time, due to the high number of
requests received and the limited number of accreditations available.

Should you have any questions regarding the press accreditation
process for the 2012 Olympic Games please feel free to contact myself
or Caroline Sharp at (613) 244-2020, csharp@olympic.ca.

Thank you for your submission and for your interest in covering the
Canadian Olympic Team at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Sincerely,

Riley Denver

Communications Coordinator │Coordinateur, Communications

Canadian Olympic Committee │Comité olympique canadien

21 St. Clair Ave. E., Suite 900, Toronto, ON, Canada M4T 1L9

Tel / Tél:  (416) 324-4143 │ Fax / Télé: (416) 967-4902

You can find the Canadian Olympic Team on both Facebook (Canadian
Olympic Team) and Twitter (CDNOlympicTeam)

For the fire within

animés par le feu sacré

Olympics and Social Media – Dave + TNMH Backgrounder

After covering SLC02 as a fan, I realized that what you see on the ground is very different from the TV coverage ~ from hospitality houses to international relationships to the athletes who finish towards the back – the rights-holding media miss a lot.

I connected with some pals (@kk @scales) with similar thoughts and we covered Torino06 and Beijing08 using new media tools to creating and tactics for distribution.

In prep for Vancouver2010, we reached out to VANOC to offer assistance in our hometown to generate social coverage. After no love coming back, we launched the True North Media House campaign to inspire, educate and amplify social coverage throughout the games – no matter whether social reporters wanted to celebrate, protest or observe.

With the hoopla done, we can step back and examine the massive body of work produced and the unique ways people grab ahold of the campaign and made it something organic, successful and loads of fun.

A few tactics:

* Self accreditation badgers – sign up, add feed and handles and print a (cool) badge to declare yourself a social reporter ready to create and share
* Aggregation – pulled feeds into Yahoo pipes, fed into HootSuite for firehose Twitter feed
* Outreached to PR agencies – once they realized our ability to amplify, we were invited to many media events
* Friendly to IOC – though initially they were incommunicado, by the end, they outreached and evolved policies for photos and fan coverage
* Ad hoc events – anyone could organize an events from dog sled demos to street hockey games to photo walks
* Educate and workshop – we spoke at universities, to community groups, conferences and workshops to explain the power of tagging, creative commons and sharing
* Reach out to academics – Groups of students (including PhD candidates) chronicled our community
* Media worthy – non rights-holding media picked up on what we were doing and provided coverage in PBS, CBC, Harvard Business, LA Times among others and many MSM joined up for fun and knowledge

To learn more follow the #tnmh tag on twitter or visit truenorthmediahouse.com or the TNMH photo group on Flickr or twitter.com/tnmh – happy to talk more about how and why we did this.

Backgrounder re: TNMH etc. for un-remembered blog post

“Citizen journalists preparing to get the unofficial Olympic scoop” CP Article re: TNMH and Olympics

Note:

This version of the CP article “Citizen journalists preparing to get the unofficial Olympic scoop” by Tamsyn Burgman was harvested and posted for archival purposes via a cached version of Guelph Mercury Press– all other CP syndicated version including Metronews, CTV, Yahoo etc. have “expired” the article so it longer appears online. It seems the articles were all removed a day later and all trace obliterated. The “permalinks” are broken and i only have an excerpt of the article at this point via Winnipeg Free Press.

Ms. Burgmann’s article shares one of my fave Olympic-related stories about the first ever Nepali winter Olympian and gives an overview of what we (at the time) planning for grassroots coverage through the True North Media House project. Also includes comments from Michael Tippet of Now Public.

Artifacts from the anecdotes :

“Citizen journalists preparing to get the unofficial Olympic scoop”

TAMSYN BURGMANN, THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER, B.C. – When Nepal’s first winter Olympian donned skis to rocket across the Salt Lake City cross-country course in 2002, there were no big-shot broadcasters to memorialize the event.

The proud moment for his nation – despite lack of victory hardware – might never have seen the light of day aside from on-site spectators.

Yet owing to an early digital camera and an enterprising spirit, a 10-second video clip of the feat was viewed by tens of thousands some 12,000 kilometres away in Jay Khadka’s home town.

“This was the only vid they got to see of their athlete in the Olympics because of course, it wasn’t on any kind of TV coverage,” said Vancouverite Dave Olson, who personally captured the footage and posted it online.

Airing preliminary rounds of competition is like watching paint dry for the mainstream media, he said.

“I really started to see that there was an importance there to tell these people these stories they weren’t getting through the traditional outlets.”

Olson plans to be in the thick of the rising contingent of so-called citizen journalists at the Vancouver Games who will dig up and share on-the-ground stories that might otherwise go untold, even as 10,000 accredited journalists from around the world roll into the city to work from the main media centre.

Armed with digital gear, social networking tools and the seemingly limitless bounds of the Internet, the scribbling underdogs will bark from mountain tops even without the same privileges as professional media.

“It has the potential to be huge. A lot will depend on the events that will unfold and who is there to cover it,” said Michael Tippett, a founder of Vancouver-based NowPublic, a pioneering citizen journalism site.

“Numbers favour the amateurs’ side of the house, because if something happens, chances will be someone with a camera phone will be there – even in the context of the Olympics, which will be a media circus.”

The caveat to what will likely be the largest social media experiment the Olympics has ever seen is that the International Olympic Committee doesn’t grant unaccredited media access to official events and venues.

Holding tickets to sporting events doesn’t help because under the conditions imposed by Olympic organizers the public – and therefore citizen reporters – are prohibited from publishing photos, audio or video online on blogs, or elsewhere. Posting snapshots to Facebook and Flickr is OK as long as it’s not used commercially, but posting video to YouTube is a no-no.

The fact is that it will be difficult for Olympic organizers to act with the speed of the Internet to stop citizen journalists, but at the Beijing Games an unaccredited photographer found himself facing legal action from the IOC after the Games were over.

Acknowledging they can’t compete with HDTV anyhow, Olson and others are saddling up to instead get scoops from festivals, parties and any event outside an official venue.

“If you’re not winning a gold medal, involved in a scandal or particularly attractive, the mainstream media doesn’t cover those stories,” said Olson, who with Vancouver-based collaborators in Turin and Beijing also helped alternatively document the Games. “On-the-ground is very different from what you see on TV.”

To make it happen, several social media advocacy groups are offering mentoring, work space and resources for bloggers and online correspondents.

True North Media House, which Olson helped found, will be churning out content and setting best practices for grassroots reporting during Olympic Games. Funded only by cash from their own pockets, they’ve created an online social reporter toolbox, will host walking tours during the big events and aim to connect roving reporters from across the globe.

And NowPublic expects hundreds of contributors. Its staff of six will also use technology they developed to scan social media being posted elsewhere to find trends in what visitors are talking – or tweeting – about.

Space is also available to citizen journalists at city locales including Building Opportunities with Business and The Network Hub, and it’s likely more unofficial gathering spots will take root in WiFi cafes.

The province has also set up an unaccredited media centre, which features space for about 30 bloggers, but will still mostly cater to hundreds of mainstream reporters.

If citizen storytellers do in fact show in force – and then push the limits of the strict control of Olympic organizers-advocates predict they have the potential to turn the page on how Games are covered.

“(Olympic organizers) may become overwhelmed,” said Tippett. “If tens of thousands of people doing it becomes untenable, it could forever change (organizers’) relationship around the property they presume to own.”

With Glowing Hearts – True North Media House webisode

This is one storyline, that of the TNMH from the documentary ‘With Glowing Hearts’. We follow Kris Krug and Dave Olson as they try to build an independent Media Center for ‘Socilamediaist’ from around the globe for the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. (Source: http://vimeo.com/)

Olympic photo essay at PBS Media Shift documents documenters

Continuing on with archiving the digital artifacts from my Olympic experience and True North Media House campaign… here’s a photo essay by my compatriot Vancouver photographerKris Krug for PBS Media Shift blog in which he profiled a variety of people on the ground in Vancouver producing social coverage of the Olympics.

Be sure to explore the entire photo set – Citizen, Alternative Media Converge at Olympic Games in Vancouver – for some real treats but i’ll include a couple of my best pals here plus Kris’ intro which sets up the piece:

##

Citizen, Alternative Media Converge at Olympic Games in Vancouver

It has become second nature for people to capture experiences, events and news using their phones, cameras and computers. We live in a world were journalism is an action — and citizens have stepped up to answer that call to action.

As a result, the story of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games is by no means limited to the version being told by official media sponsors. Social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and Tumblr are enabling citizens and independent media to provide real-time coverage of the culture, events and community that are part of the Olympic Games. More stories are being told than ever before — and most of them have nothing to to do with the athletic events.

Kris Krüg is a photographer with Static Photography and a prominent member of the citizen and alternative media community in Vancouver. He is out in the city covering the broad spectrum of events that are occurring during the Olympics.

This is his photographic recap of citizen and alternative journalism at the Olympic Games.

vx-pavilion-8912

Citizen journalists John Biehler and Dave Olson hold up the media accreditation badge for theTrue North Media House. TNMH is a virtual and independent media house operating during the Olympics. It provides media accreditation to citizen journalists of all types and also aggregates their reporting.

Prince George, British Columbia Vancouver 2010 Torch Relay Celebration

Rebecca Bollwitt, a.k.a. Miss604, is a Vancouver podcaster, blogger and all-around social media maven. She has been covering the Olympics for her popular Vancouver community site.

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games - Vancouver, British Columbia

Official media accreditation for the Vancouver Olympic Games is issued by VANOC, the organizing committee — and only the official Olympic media partners are eligible. But other forms of accreditation, such as the one offered by True North Media House, have also been created. Robert Scales, who runs the site Vancouver Access 2010, is holding up his British Columbia International Media Center accreditation badge. This center is created and maintained by the British Columbia government, and is home to a wide variety of Canadian and international media. A few spots were also offered to independent media and bloggers.

True North Media House campaign discussed at PBS Media Shift

The PBS Media Shift blog followed the True North Media House campaign, Craig Silverman wrote a lengthy article about the various alternative reporting efforts in Vancouver during the Olympics.

Again for the record & archive, I’ve pasted liberally from the article but encourage you to read the full version in context at True North Media House, W2 Provide Citizen Media Hub at Olympics by by Craig Silverman (bio below), February 22, 2010. The article ran with photos (including this one of interviewing Gord Rickards at Molson Brewing by John Biehler) for the Olympic Outsider podcast plus video clips from WGHthemovie.ca- Webisode #2 ‘True North Media House’.

Dave Olson, left, conducts an interview with Gord Rickards at Molson BRewery, Vancouver - Photo by John Biehler

The article sets the stage thusly about the changes in the media landscape compared to previous Olympics and offers the background of the TNMH campaign:

Well over 100 unofficial media folks are united under the True North Media House, a virtual media accreditation organization that’s aggregating content from bloggers and citizen journalists at the Games. The TNMH initiative also helps them coordinate and communicate with each other via a mailing list and #tnmh Twitter hashtag, while also serving as a point of aggregation for reporting and content.

{snip}

TRUE NORTH MEDIA HOUSE

Last Wednesday, an email went out on the True North Media House email list to let people know the group would be holding an “Olympic Hockey Tweetup” the following day between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. at a local club. “There will be an appearance by special guest Guy Kawasaki at about 8 p.m.,” the message said.

{Ed Note: The mentioned was just rebroadcast via True North Media House but was organized by another group}

Apart from a few organized events like that one, the people sporting TNMH badges have largely roamed Vancouver on their own, or in small groups. They go where they choose (and where security lets them) and report, photograph and tweet what they see. As a result, theTNMH news feed is an eclectic mix of content. It’s also spreading far and wide, according to Dave Olson, one of the organizers.

“What we’re starting to see now is people are getting their coverage up and out and distributed well before the mainstream media,” he said.

Olson, whose day job is the marketing/community director for Twitter client HootSuite, hatched the idea for TNMH with Robert Scales, who runs Raincity Sudios andVancouverAccess2010.com, and local photographer Kris Krüg, who is contributing photo essays to MediaShift during the Games.

{snip}

Now that the games are up and running, Olson said it’s a matter of letting the TNMH-accredited reporters go about their business, produce content, and see what happens. One surprise so far has been Aleks, a 5-year-old Vancouver boy who’s blogging about his Games experience with the help of his dad. He proudly wears his TNMH badge wherever he goes.

“We have people who four or five days ago didn’t self-identify as social media reporters, but they had a passion for photography or making videos,” Olson said. “Once the Games were on, they realized they see stuff no one else sees. A lot of people are just stepping up and saying they want to be a part of this.”

The reports in the TNMH news feed and discussion on #TNMH bring to mind the old saying that youth is wasted on the young. It’s hard to imagine professional media are bounding around with as much joy, delight and enthusiasm. Certainly, not having an assignment editor or producer harrassing you on deadline helps keep the TNMH crew happy. But you can’t help noticing how much fun they seem to having.

He continues to profile my compatriot John Biehler who produced exceptional quality and quantity of work during the Games:

BUSINESS ANALYST GETS ACCREDITED

John Biehler is an e-business analyst for an insurance company in Vancouver, but he’s also a self-described camera geek. He loves taking pictures and shooting video, and he shares his work on a blog and on Flickr.

Biehler booked off three weeks of vacation so he would be able to document the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, and now spends his days and nights reporting on everything from the torch relay to tall ships and zip line rides. His videos and photos are available in a special Olympic section of his blog, but they’re also showing up in the news feed of True North Media House.

Biehler proudly wears his TNMH media accreditation badge around his neck, and is often stopped by people who ask what it means, and where he got it.

“Some of the [people wearing the badge] have been able to get past security and get into venues because security think it’s official,” he said. “They don’t know we printed them out on a home printer and went to Staples and got them laminated.”

And Mr. Silverman shared my point (for which i am very glad) that grassroots content creation is for documentation as much or moreso than reportage or journalism.

DOCUMENTATION OR JOURNALISM?

Biehler is enjoying a unique experience because he has both a TNMH pass and an official one from the BCIMC. He is among the lucky few bloggers and folks from online media outlets granted access to the province’s media center. For the most part, he said, the professional media folks have been welcoming.

“They seem to work more hours,” he said of the pros, “and it’s been interesting talking with them about what I’m doing and what I’m working on, and comparing gear. Even if they’re working for a big company we’re similar in that we’re just trying to figure out the best way to do something.”

Olson said TNMH is more about documentation than journalism.

“But we’ve taken great pains to educate people about journalistic standards and how to tell a mixed media story,” he said. (The resources section on the website offers a wealth of useful information.)
The night we spoke, Olson was rushing off to meet a group of hockey fans from Latvia, an experience he looked forward to documenting.

“How often do you get a chance to meet someone who has come halfway around the world to your city to enjoy something that you’re also passionate about?”

To which he could have added: and then share that experience with the world.

Again, be sure to read the entire article and related media at True North Media House, W2 Provide Citizen Media Hub at Olympics and thanks to Craig for spreading the story.

Bio: Craig Silverman is an award-winning journalist and author, and the managing editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. Follow him on Twitter at @CraigSilverman.

Olympic Social Reporting and TNMH profiled in Harvard Business Review

During the Vancouver Olympics & the ferver of True North Media House‘s campaign, Dr. Alexandra Samuel (bio below) checked in with Kris Krug and I about the reasons and process of TNMH’s media efforts during the Games.

I’ve liberally pasted from the article here for the record, but encourage to read the entire article in context at How Social Media Is Changing Olympic Coverage – The Conversation in Harvard Business Review {by Alexandra Samuel, Friday February 26, 2010}. As Alex mentions, we’ve worked on projects over the years so she understands the expertise and enthusiasm Kris and I (and others of course) hold for the experimenting with social storytelling and documentation of cultural events. By the way, check Dr. Samuel’s blog for a variety of articles like: Five Unsolved Problems Social Media Could Fix.

German House Opening Ceremony - Vancouver British Columbia
Bonus: Dave Olson and brother celebrate the opening ceremonies - Photo by KK

The brainchild of Vancouver’s social media community, True North Media House (TNMH) was conceived as a way to organize otherwise scatter shot social media coverage of the games into something like what an alternative newspaper would provide. TNMH supports and spotlights Olympic coverage by independent bloggers, tweeters, photographers and videographers, adding their voices to an event dominated by carefully crafted messages disseminated by a controlled (some would argue subjugated) media. Each of those quotes above represents a story about the Olympics that’s been ignored by the mainstream media but is reaching a global audience.

I have firsthand knowledge of how effective the TNMH crew can be in spreading the social media gospel. I was a blogging newbie five years ago when I met TNMH founder Kris Krug. He introduced me to Flickr, cajoled me into learning the Drupal online community platform, and worked with me on some of my first online community projects. And I worked with Dave Olson, one of the other driving forces behind TNMH, to launch an online community for green Vancouver.

Kris and Dave were way ahead of the curve thinking about how the Olympics would intersect with Vancouver’s burgeoning social media scene. They anticipated an upswing in local blogging, and the influx of social media contributors, that would come with a global event. And they also anticipated that many of these folks would fall between the cracks of the traditional Olympic media support system.

“Most of the Olympics is about exclusivity and elitism,” Krug says. “True North is the opposite. You self-accredit and take the True North Media House oath, and you can print your own badge.” The oath is simple:

As a True North Media House Social Reporter, I agree to:
Take responsibility for my work
Publish with creative commons license
Tag content “TNMH” for sharing

To date, 108 contributors have signed up with TNMH and are busily shooting, blogging, tweeting and tagging. “The stories tend to be covering and documenting the fan experience rather than uncovering scandal or investigative reporting,” Olson observed. “With a diverse group of reporters following their key interests, you see compelling stories ranging from civic issues, art and culture, transportation, surveillance and security, to beer and wine.”

Kiratiana Freelon is a Chicago-based blogger who has used TNMH to make the most of her Olympics experience. “I came to the Games with the explicit goal of covering the black athletes here,” Freelon says. She says the TMNH pass “is useful to look like you are halfway legitimate media.”

Then again, none of Krug, Olson and Freelon is looking to make social media more like “official” media, either in terms of access or coverage. “I’m not sure that I want explicit support from Olympic organizers,” Freelon says.”Once you start connecting officially to the Olympic Games, things get restricted.”

Olson makes a similar case for the value of working outside the usual media system. “Once something becomes official and requires approval or adherence to guidelines, the vitality is reduced and (usually) no longer represents the true spirit of what’s going on,” he says. “All people who create and publish content on- or offline should have the same rights and responsibilities.”

Outsider status might preserve the authenticity of social media, but what does it do for the Olympics? Krug sees the International Olympic Committee’s Flickr photo group as a sign of the potential of the Olympics’ embracing of social media, and also a sign of the limitations. “It’s easy to make the right decision on photo sharing,” Krug observed. “But if they were to take their newly friendly attitude to photos and extend to videos, they would pretty much erode their traditional revenue model.

“We’re in for interesting times as the IOC tries to reinvent itself. The IOC is really a big media company like every other big media company. And they are behind the eight-ball because they are hardly an innovator.”

Alexandra Samuel is the Director of the Social + Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University, and the co-founder of Social Signal, a Vancouver-based social media agency. You can follow Alex on Twitter as awsamuel or her blog at alexandrasamuel.com.

Article: How Social Media Is Changing Olympic Coverage – The Conversation in Harvard Business Review

Geek Talk in Georgia Straight about True North Olympic media campaign

Almost hidden amongst all the Olympic media coverage created by the True North Media House campaign were articles by legacy media about the campaign’s origins, purpose and logistics. While some kinda glossed over the real story behind the erstwhile media revolution others dug deep. In this case, Stephen Hui of the venerable Vancouver arts and culture weekly, Georgia Straight took my quotes and ran ’em long so i could really express some important background for the record.

With the future in mind, I’m reposting the article here but encourage you to read Geek Speak: Dave Olson, True North Media House in it’s entirety in context.

(As usual) the article runs from one of many rad photos my pal Vancouver photographer Kris Krug captured of my mug:

Dave Olson is the communications wrangler for the True North Media House. Photo Kris Krug

Dave Olson knows the 2010 Winter Olympics will look completely different on the ground than they do on television. So, he wants to use the Internet to share a “street-level view” with the world.

As the communications wrangler for the True North Media House, Olson is the “ringleader” behind a project that he expects will bring together over 300 bloggers, podcasters, photographers, and artists from all over during the Games. In contrast to the W2 Culture + Media House, a Downtown Eastside facility that will host non-accredited bloggers and journalists covering the Olympics, the True North Media House is billed as a “media collaboration campaign”. “Social reporters” can join the project by signing up for “self-accreditation” and agreeing to publish content under aCreative Commons licence and label it with a common tag.

Olson, who’s 40 years old, was born in Saskatoon, grew up in Surrey, and now lives in North Vancouver. He covered the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, uploading photos and video of 28 events in 13 days. In January, Olson joined HootSuite as its community director, following stints at MovieSet andRaincity Studios. He’s a contributor toVancouver Access 2010.

The Georgia Straight reached Olson on his cellphone at work in Railtown.

Why was it important for you to organize the True North Media House?

I think documenting the people’s history of how we see our communities ourselves is critically important to augment the mainstream media’s impressions of Vancouver that they’ll be spreading.

How is the True North Media House turning out differently than you first envisioned it?

It attracted more attention than I imagined at the beginning—from all over the world—and it’s become more of a thought-leadership, educational project than a resource centre.

What form will True North Media House take during the Olympics?

A series of meet-ups, events, get-togethers, photo walks, field trips to what I like to call internationalize—meaning hanging out and collaborating with international people hanging out and collaborating to make media.

How would you describe the people who are going to participate in the house?

People like me and my other colleagues who have organized this project, but from other countries. So, for all of us, there’s social-media doppelgangers from all over the world, and, just like here in Vancouver, we’re all ages and all backgrounds and work in all sorts of different media—photography, writing, audio, and so on. Those kind of people but just coming from, you know, somewhere else.

What are the main differences between the True North Media House and the Olympic social-media centre at W2?

Well, I can’t really speak for W2, but I know that they’re focused on community media and they have a physical space, and they’re also hosting the legal-observers program and the BCCLA, where True North Media House is about thought leadership, education, workshops, meet-ups, and so on.

What kind of stories do you expect people involved in True North Media House to tell during the Games?

I think hidden Vancouver gems; unique art projects, like the stuff that’s coming through the CODE program—the Cultural Olympiad Digital Edition; hospitality houses and what’s going on there; stories of lesser-known athletes—skiers from Ghana and Nepal, for example; and also shining a light on the civic and community conundrums that we see here in the city; and really tell the stories of the communities outside of the core Olympic area. I’m talking about places, like Squamish and North Van and even Surrey and Prince George, that aren’t getting as much throughout the Olympics. I think Squamish, in particular, is a great example of that.

What will you personally be doing during the Games?

I’m a guy with a day job and so I’ll have some flexibility. Pretty much every day, whatever I’m doing, I’m going to be listing it up as an event and inviting people to come along. So, for example, meet up at Gassy Jack’s statue at five o’clock with your True North Media badge and we’re going to a special tour of the police museum or the Vancouver neon exhibit, or we’re going to a live site, or we’re going to the Switzerland hospitality house, and so on. Everything I do, I’m going to be doing it publicly and inviting anyone that wants to come along to come along, and other people are doing the same thing as me. Throughout the day, they’re leading photo walks, they’re doing trips out to here, there, everywhere.

One of the most valuable things that we’ve done to kind of make this all happen is we put together a huge reporter’s toolkit, which also includes a guideline of cans and can’ts—what you can and cannot do throughout the Olympics—as well as practical tips about blogging and Twittering and how to tag things and how to track trends and stuff like that.

How do you think Vanoc has treated bloggers and citizen journalists?

They’ve missed a massive opportunity by not embracing and deputizing it—social-media makers. To compare and contrast that with London and what London and Sochi have done, London and Sochi have both embraced social media, where Vanoc has ignored and just simply missed a huge opportunity, especially in light of Mayor Gregor talking about promoting Vancouver as a creative-industry hub. Vancouver is a creative-industry hub, especially in this new-media field, and by not promoting the social-media activity and companies that are going on here, it’s a massive economic opportunity lost.

There’s some sort of badge, so it’s an alternative accreditation?

It’s really to kind of snub our nose at the whole accreditation pecking order. You’ll see during the Olympics everyone has some kind of laminate on. Like, everyone has something dangling from their neck. So, it’s kind of a little bit to say declare yourself to the world, and if you are saying you’re a reporter and you are following these best practices, then your work is of value.

Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui

What they’re ( not) saying about Paralympics via Vancouver Sun

What they’re ( not) saying about Paralympics

British press silent, social media drop off but ‘ definite improvement’ still noted

Vancouver Sun, BY GILLIAN SHAW gshaw@vancouversun.com


LYLE STAFFORD/ REUTERS
Alexandre Bilodeau’s gold medal — Canada’s first on home soil — received a massive amount of coverage.

When Vancouver blogger Rebecca Bollwitt was writing about the Olympics, traffic to her website grew 400 per cent.

It dropped back to normal levels with the extinguishing of the Olympic flame, where it has stayed even though Bollwitt is now writing about the Paralympics.

That may help explain why social media appear to be following the lead of many mainstream media outlets in reduced coverage of the Paralympics compared to the Olympics.

It’s an issue with no easy answers. Even as media and social media numbers drop for the Paralympics compared to last month‘ s Olympics, the optimist will see the increase in coverage from past Paralympics.

And both social media and the mainstream media added their voices to the call on CTV for more extensive broadcasting of Paralympics opening and closing ceremonies.

“ I would take a step back and think about what motivates the various media outlets,” said Marc-David Seidel, associate professor at the University of B. C.’ s Sauder School of Business organizational behaviour and human resources division. “ They want to sell papers, get eyeballs or whatever you want to call it.

“ In reality, social media has the same goal; they are both looking for audiences.”

Donovan Tildesley, a Paralympian and multiple-medal winner in swimming, would argue it is up to the mainstream and social media to help raise the profile of the Paralympics.

While some might say the size of the Paralympics – 650 athletes and 10 days of events compared to the Olympics’ 17 days and more than 2,600 athletes – is explanation enough for diminished coverage, Tildesley dismisses that. The profile being given the Paralympics speaks to its importance to media providers, he says.

“ I think there is definitely an improvement from past Games but by no means is it adequate,” he says. “ It is being covered more than it has been, but successes in the Paralympic Games seem to be pushed to the back of the news reports.

“ When Alexandre Bilodeau won his [ Olympic] gold medal it was the lead story on radio and TV. Yesterday when Brian McKeever won his gold medal it was 10 to 15 minutes into the [ CBC’s] World at Six.

“ It wasn’t the lead story. If they want to make it equal or parallel, as the Paralympics should be, it should be leading off the top of the news.”

In The Vancouver Sun, which produced both Paralympic and Olympic supplements, McKeever’s gold-medal performance, along with that of fellow Canadian Lauren Woolstencroft, was Tuesday’s front-page news.

It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question. If Google searches are any indication, the Paralympics rank far below the Olympics in online interest.

But as Bollwitt points out, the fact that the Paralympic opening ceremony didn’t register as a Twitter trend compared to the Olympic opening that did could be explained by the lack of broadcast coverage.

“ It is not as widely televised so you are not getting people watching in Florida on NBC and tweeting about it,” she said. “ It would be great if it had the same kind of profile.

“ But I think more people are aware of the Paralympics in Vancouver than in any other year. It is still kind of a young event.”

Bollwitt, who is accredited to cover the Paralympics, said she’ll continue to write about them, despite the dwindled readership.

“ I write about stuff that may get zero comments and maybe two retweets but it still is important for me to get it out there,” she said.

It’s an attitude Tildesley would applaud.

“ If we want to understand more about the Games themselves and what these athletes go through, I think the media has the responsibility to take it upon themselves and make it the lead story,” he said. “ I think the mainstream media are just apprehensive because it means stepping out of their comfort zone, writing about something they are not convinced the public will consume.

“ What they don’t realize is that it is the only way to grow the movement from a grassroots movement to a mainstream movement.”

Tildesley says the public wants coverage of the Paralympics and there are indications both in mainstream and social media that some are ready to supply it.

A survey published in the United Kingdom after London won its bid for the 2012 Summer Games indicated 69 per cent of the U. K. public thought there should be more media coverage of the Paralympic Games.

However while February’s Olympics made headlines in U. K. papers – with some controversial coverage – a check of files turns up little in U. K. papers about the Paralympics.

One exception is a Guardian story, headlined: “ BBC criticized for scant coverage of Winter Paralympics.”

A tally of newspaper coverage shows mixed results. A search on Paralympics for The Vancouver Sun turned up 69 results in the Infomart database from opening day March 12 to Tuesday March 16. A search on Olympics from opening day Feb. 12 to Feb. 16 had 286 results, the proportion of stories close to the proportion of Paralympic competitors compared to Olympic competitors.

The Globe and Mail had 222 results for a search on the term Olympics between Feb. 12 and Feb. 16 and 15 results for Paralympics between March 12 and the 16th.

During the same period, an Infomart search of the New York Times turned up two results for Paralympics, while the term Olympics between Feb. 12 and Feb. 16 had 78 results.

The London Daily Mail turned up 40 hits on the term Olympics in stories from Feb. 12 to the 16th, while the opening of the Paralympics registered zero results. The Liverpool Echo had a single Paralympics story during that time, one about Merseyside marine and Paralympian Pete Dunning.

So is there cause for optimism that coverage is increasing?

Robert Scales, who organized a social media website for the Olympics, Vancouver Access 2010, argues that although social media coverage has dropped significantly with the Paralympics, a number of factors are involved. One is that South by Southwest, the largest social media event of the year, is being held in Texas this week.

On the other hand, accreditation for the Paralympics was much easier for bloggers to obtain, as Bollwitt, who wasn’t eligible for the top-level official Olympic media accreditation, found out.

Of the eight people who contributed to Vancouver Access during the Olympics, Scales said only three are left in Vancouver, with the others at SXSW. Even he hasn’t been using his Paralympic accreditation as planned because of injuries from a recent car accident.

Echoing in part what Tildesley suggested, Scales said the Paralympics may be outside the comfort zone of some. “ Yes, we are disappointed they are not getting the same attention,” he said of the Paralympics. “ Do they deserve the same attention?

“ Bloody hell, yes, they are heroes. They show the same endurance that any Olympian does – they are Olympians.”

Legend of Muk Muk with Mr. Mann – Olympic Outsider #27

Give Mr. Mann some muk muk

Listen: Legend of Muk Muk with Mr. Mann – Olympic Outsider #26 (.mp3, 4:20)

At Canada’s Northern House, Dave enjoys Boris Mann’s annotations about the legendary delicacy of muk muk and thoughts about flying Saskatchewanians, neglected cultures, hospitality houses with tasty food and recollections of Torino 2006

Subscribe: Olympic Outsider podcast feed