Journalism under attack at the Winter Games?
November 12, 2013
November 12, 2013
On Monday, news broke that print journalists would be restricted in their use of social media during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, specifically when it comes to photos and videos. Multimedia will, instead, be left to journalists with specific badges. Violators will be subject to loss of accreditation.
What we have here is a problem on two fronts.
The first is that this represents another issue with Russian authorities well before the start of the games. Russia’s treatment of the LGBT community and its supporters has appropriately received great attention. And of course, this is more censoring of the press. This is not a new development for Sochi coverage, nor is it for Russia. How this will play out come February remains to be seen, but any move made by Russia will be done out in the open and with the eyes of the world upon it. Is there anyone from the first world willing to test them?
The second, and less serious matter at hand is the naïve understanding of a 21st century journalist. The responsibilities a journalist has changed in the digital age, a product of budgetary constraints and just keeping up with the times. These days, print journalists are often as immersed in online activity as any other web-based scribe. They use every available resource to tell their stories and engage their audiences. The fact that R-Sport, the organization that controls accreditation, is allowing photography only by certain group of reporters demonstrates a lack of understanding in what modern journalism entails. The idea that a reporter could fully describe something they see but not take a picture of it on Instagram is pretty absurd when you think about it.
Some of the issues on the table (and alluded to above) will dominate headlines with the games roughly three months away. We’re not likely to see any sort of resolution in the meantime, as the beliefs of Russian politicians are not so easily swayed. This archaic multimedia ban should be rescinded, though. You have to imagine they’ll soon come to their senses, right?