Open Letter #3 – Social Reporting from Vancouver 2010
With the impending Olympics in sight, here’s an update on True North Media House’s ongoing campaign to encourage and inspire social reporting of the arts, civic and sports stories happening in Vancouver in February 2010. This missive also contains a Olympics Media Toolkit to prepare you for creating and publishing your documentation during the forthcoming events.
The True North Media House (TNMH) campaign began in earnest a couple years ago with the intent of starting a conversation about the role of social media at Vancouver/Whistler 2010 and to share experience from covering previous Olympic Games and other significant world events. Further, we aimed to gather info and experience for coverage of future games as well as having some enjoyment building international relationships and audiences. Here’s a recap of progress of the campaign objectives so far.
Spark the conversation
From the first video dispatch outside the Worldwide Press Briefing (and ORN Press Conference), TNMH aimed to introduce “social media/journalism/reporting” as a viable and vital enhancement to the accredited Olympic coverage. By inspiring and educating content creators, we felt unique stories – including often controversial civic and community concerns as well as lesser-known athletes – could find a larger audience.
Indeed, from the remarkable worldwide reaction to the first Open Letter to VANOC, the conversation took off across both “social” and “traditional” media outlets who looked to our experience and research to understand the ‘lay of the land’ for citizen coverage in this age of ubiquitous web publishing tools (much of which was recapped in the Open Letter #2). Since starting the conversation, several co-working spaces have opened their doors to visiting reporters and local-centric media outlets are soliciting documenters with a story to tell to contribute heralding a tremendous opportunity for grassroots journalism.
Within this conversation, we explored conundrums like: “What is media?” “What is allowed?” “What is encouraged?” “What sorts accreditations are available?” and “What are the stories no one else will be covering?” We also researched IOC’s intellectual property federal legislation, Vancouver’s host city by-laws, VANOC’s brand protection policies, and what regular folks are able to do in light of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the recent Canadian Supreme Court decision regarding journalism. We then shared our findings with anyone who expressed interest.
Share best practices
Along this campaign, we’ve demonstrated and educated other about the tips and tactics learned by covering the past 3 Olympics on the ground. Along with the web publishing skills, we prepared a dossier of educational resources including original sources of laws and distilled this research to produce a Media Cans and Can’ts by interviewing diverse people with different points of view to define the grey area between IOC’s guidelines and a citizen’s right to self-expression.
The joy of covering world events comes from creating interesting content and publishing it to an enthused audience. My collaborators and I shared this passion and knowledge publicly with other community media organizations including presentations at Fresh Media at W2, Capilano College, Northern Voice, Vancouver Blogathon plus participation in Journalism that Matters, and dozens of other events about the nuts and bolts of publishing content within the new media paradigm. Additionally, my colleagues and I have mentored others about media literacy and creation including W2 Bladerunners program and Purple Thistle’s Youngunz program.
Pass it around
At their recent Copehagen congress, the assembled IOC members heard a lecture called “The Digital Revolution” in which Martin Sorrell explained the landscape of citizen coverageand admonished the IOC to adjust IP regulations to embrace fan-driven media creation, especially from the youth. With this in mind, it will be interesting to see how rights-holding media embrace and deputize the “folks on the ground” to enrich their coverage. As background, the rights-holding media will have exclusive use of the IBC at Canada Place 2and a 2nd tier of accreditation will use the BC IMC at Robson Square.
By pro-actively welcoming and collaborating with social media making visitors to Vancouver, TNMH will spark locals to share their area knowledge beyond the standard tourist circuit to enhance visitor’s experience and share the true spirit of who we are as a community.
Further, by documenting all the operational and academic knowledge we gather, this campaign can pass info along to for evolving coverage in London and Sochi – along with social reporters and documenters at other world events. The same way, concerned citizens in Vancouver (and everywhere else) looked to citizen reporters for unique and forthright coverage of cataclysmic world events like the Iran election and Copenhagen climate summit, this is an opportunity to tell the world about the impact of this global event in the communities we know best.
No matter what your personal opinions about the Games are, it is important to understand your rights to share your stories with an audience. This impartial view is very important as the Olympics coming to Vancouver raised a litany of controversies and divided the citizenry in many ways. However, whether you wish to protest or celebrate, the TNMH campaigns feels your story is important to share if you so choose.
While not always easy, the campaign has kept most all communication public, meetings accessible, and outreached to other organizing, security and media entities to plainly state intentions. In fact, the producers of “With Glowing Hearts” – a documentary film project exploring the intersection of social justice, social media and social change in Vancouver – attended many TNMH meetings, events and lectures to create a segment about the campaign which tells more of the backstory of our efforts – foibles and all.
Find the stories
World news stories are regularly broken and enhanced by regular people using new web tools but important to have context with the content. What will be the compelling stories which will live on for decades after the Games? What ground-breaking story will break on Twitter first? How will the protests and celebrations go-exist? Will Vancouver really turn into a “big brother” zone? How will visitors view Vancouver in light of the social issues affecting the DTES?
No matter what the stories are, this will be the first Olympics in which people may collectively have a voice as loud as huge media conglomerates to place these experiences in the proper cultural place.
Further, communities like Squamish are almost ignored as they are not “Official” Olympic cities and/or some visitors may hesitate to trek out to suburban events like the Olympic live sites in Surrey. TNMH will provide a context to organize field trips to meet one another and share skills and find compelling stories beyond the athletic events.
A Moveable Feast
With prevalent wi-fi and data networks, “space” is less important than in years past. Like the stories themselves, social media making is a distributed experience. Rather than one physical location, the TNMH campaign will continue from a variety of locations throughout the Games.
Throughout the Olympic fortnight, TNMH will be a “moveable feast” with photowalks, museums trips, impromptu interviews, and meet-ups at international hospitality houses. Encouraging a smorgasbord of activities will leave room for exploring the issues of concern, developing international friendship, and fostering spontaneous journalistic and artistic collaboration.
If you have a museum, hospitality house, commercial enterprise, symposium, or event and would like share your message with an audience, consider hosting a TNMH meetup event and inviting a group of blogger, photographers, podcasters, videographers, etc. to spread your news. Fill out the contact form or ping @tnmh on Twitter with details and we’ll add to theTNMH Event Calendar.
It’s all of us
The True North Media House is wherever you are and what you make it. It’s all of us making the people’s history. For me personally, the idea of sharing grassroots coverage of the Olympics began in Nagano pre-Olympics, blossomed in SLC 2002 and grew working on innovative coverage with my collaborators during Torino 06 and Beijing 08 ~ Now, with all the jamboree in our backyard, I can’t wait to see what we produce together in Vancouver/Whistler 2010.
2010 Social Reporter Toolbox
To prepare for documenting your Olympic experience, here’s a reading list and handy resources (Note: This toolbox will become a growing resource page – for additions, please submit info via contact form or ping @tnmh on Twitter):
The Cans and Can’ts of Media During the Olympics on True North Media House
Independent Reporters Guide to 2010 on Rabble.ca
Vancouver wi-fi map (thanks Noah)
Vancouver host city “getting around”
For media makers needing a desk and/or equipment, physical work space is abundant – here are a few to investigate:
BOB co-working centre – Building Opportunities through Business program has a drop-in co-working space and is hosting some CODE activities
Network Hub – a entreptrenuraial co-working space renting desks by hour or month
BC International Media Centre – run by the provincial secretariat and hosting some accredited trad. and social media outlets
Beyond these resources are dozens of coffee shops, bars and studios from which to work – see wi-fi map.
Several Vancouver-centric media outlets are welcoming writers, photographers to publish content to their communities – inclusion in this list is not necessarily an endorsement, research to find a publishing home which best fits for your interests and work.
Rabble.ca – Interested in covering the 2010 Olympic Games? email: editor [@] rabble.ca
Orato – hiring online journalists
Get your own free WordPress blog
Bob Mackin’s 2010 Gold Rush – reporter with full access and experience covering Olympic Games
Kris Krug “Doin’ it for the love – Reflection on the future” essay from Journalism that Matters conference
Vancouver blogger Miss 604’s Olympic coverage
“Social Media and the Olympics” panel video from Northern Voice
OlyBlog.com – Maurice Cardinal’s punditry
Stay in Touch
Public Mailing list group
Along with other organizational compatriots who contributed in meaningful ways along the journey, Sixty4Media.com and Catalyst Internet contributed key design and development efforts, consider these fine companies for your web development needs.