Countdown: 35 weeks until the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. June 12, 2009 By Bob Mackin
NOTE: From Business in Vancouver by Bob Mackin, comes a discussion about the True North Media House including quotes from Kris Krug and comments about the “Open Letters to VANOC” i published via Raincity Studios in November 2008.
Posted here for archival purposes. Grab Print version as needed.
Countdown: 35 weeks until the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
VANOC slow to get into new media game
Kris Krug is among a small group of Vancouver new media trailblazers aiming to revolutionize how the Olympic Games are covered in this wild Web 2.0 world.
They have devised the True North Media House, and they say it will also be strong and free.
It’s going to be a Downtown Eastside-based alternative for outlets big and small that don’t qualify to be inside the fence at the main media centre in the Vancouver Convention Centre or in the non-accredited provincial facility at Robson Square.
“With the explosive growth of online journalism, citizen journalism and new forms of journalism, we’re going to have huge demand for the services we’re offering there,” Krug said.
The concept was borne out of meetings last fall among disaffected members of the local new media community. Early on, VANOC was wide-eyed about the new media. Krug and others briefed VANOC executives and staff on a new media day back in 2005. But as the Games approached, things changed.
I remember Krug sitting crestfallen outside the Pan Pacific Hotel last November, ruing the fact that VANOC didn’t let him join in the world press briefing. That week, his Raincity Studios’ colleague Dave Olson extended a hand with his famous “Hello VANOC, we’re nice, local and invite you for a coffee and a talk” open letter.
Any VANOC forays into the virtual world have been on the coattails of telecommunications sponsor Bell. The Cultural Olympiad’s intriguing Canada CODE digital collage is the best example. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are used by many individuals at VANOC, but not VANOC itself.
The reluctance apparently comes from top-down. The IOC has tiptoed around the Internet, not fully embracing the new media. To its credit, it opened its own YouTube channel during the Beijing Games while liberalizing its rules to allow athlete blogs. Krug said the IOC’s top Canadian, Dick Pound, told him that the Internet is the second-biggest threat to the Olympics movement, after performance-enhancing drugs.
“They haven’t figured out how to harness the Internet, so they view it as a cannibalization of their broadcast revenues,” he said. “By not figuring out ways to engage the media, particularly the new media, they’re missing out on a whole generation.”
So Krug is intent on showing the IOC the potential.
“We have lots of people who are stoked abut it. You might have a Swedish ski blogger, and we’ll have the Christians blogging about Christians in the Olympics,” he said. “We’ll have other people who are probably anti-Olympics there, too. It’s like a big house, and everyone’s welcome in. It’s about open access for all these locked out, independent new media.”