Note: Full article shared here for permanent historical record – original link is broken, as such, accessed via Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine on Feb. 2017.
By Wes | September 27th, 2009
Yesterday in my RSS feeds was a little tidbit from the Canadian Press regarding social media and coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The article describes an IOC pretty much acquiescing to the uncontrollable forces of social media nature, quoting head of communications Mark Adams as saying “We can’t ignore them. They are there and people are going to talk with you or about you, you might as well talk with them.” essentially what sounds to me like a classic -if you can’t beat’em join’em- approach. Because it seemed like the IOC was trying to beat them for a while (and by them I mean us, the public).
Late last year Dave Olson, formerly of Raincity Studios in Vancouver and now with MovieSet, wrote an open letter to VANOC laying out quite eloquently the need for the Olympics to recognize the utility and inevitability of social media, blogging, and other modes of communication now prevalent in media. It was amicable, proactive, and totally necessary in my opinion; simply asking for inclusion and cooperation between the IOC machine and multitude of bloggers in Vancouver. Up until earlier this year the IOC had serious reservations about blogs and social media in regards to the Olympics, and many in the blogging and internet community had to push for inclusion and for recognition of our legitimacy. The IOC still does not recognize blogging as a legitimate form of journalism and rather paints it as a form of personal expression. So we’re akin to those crazy guys standing at speakers corner in London. Rule 49 of the Olympic Charter states that, “Only those persons accredited as media may act as journalists, reporters or in any other media capacity.” Bloggers, we’re just a bunch of punks I guess. But the IOC has been loosening up, or maybe giving in would be a better expression.
According to www.sportsjournalists.co.uk there are new media guidelines being implemented for the Vancouver Games “The guidelines are the latest development in IOC rules which have had to evolve rapidly, reflecting the growing appetite for first-hand accounts from Olympic competitors, and they mark a sea-change from the rules issued from Lausanne ahead of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where athletes were banned from blogging altogether.” People really want to hear firsthand accounts of the athletes as soon as they can have it. And sorry to say, Twitter and Facebook are a more efficient way than a room full of clamoring reporters, to get the real emotional content inside athletes out into the world after a victory or defeat. Yes, it might not be objective journalism- by definition a personal expression of experience won’t be objective, but it will be honest and real; and it’s what people want to read and hear. SO I’m glad that athletes are now able to blog about their experiences- it was ridiculous that they weren’t allowed before. But the IOC also has other issues to consider beyond the athletes, and that’s guys like me.
The relationship between journalists and the Olympics and the Olympics and bloggers is directly related (or how about inversely proportional) to the relationship between networks, advertising revenue and the Olympics. And while I could go on some Marxist rant about the risks and damages of the Olympic games and all about how it’s an elitist money making scheme I won’t; not because I’m not a Marxist but because this is about blogging, control of content, legitimization of our medium and the old way of thinking that is crystallized in the IOC and its great reluctance to welcome social media, or fear that it will run amok throughout the games. (So maybe I’ll go on a Marshall McLuhan-esque rant instead) The fact of the matter is that the Olympics also has positive benefits too.
the Olympic Village has gone insanely over-budget and in fact the entire Olympics are over budget. So of course the IOC, Vancouver, BC, and Canada all need to make some dough off this fiasco. So shouldn’t blogging and social media be viewed as a revenue stream to them- a huge one? And not just a bunch of hacks with laptops posting useless drivel; which is what the rhetoric tends to make me feel they view it as. Where other large events like the Academy Awards and Grammies welcomed bloggers into the fold, the IOC has been unwilling to welcome the public observer into their mix. And I truly believe it comes down to advertising revenue, licensing, and control of the Olympic image. But I’ll end it there. I look forward to blogging extensively throughout the Olympics and reading the other Senses posters as we proudly watch a piece of history unfold in our sleepy little logging town.