Posts tagged olympics

An Interactive History of Politics and the Olympics
via Council on Foreign Relations.

An Interactive History of Politics and the Olympics

via Council on Foreign Relations.

Let the Games Begin
The Olympics kicked off yesterday with some snowboarding and figure skating qualifiers.
Today saw the really big show: Opening Ceremonies.
For those watching tonight, SBNation helpfully provides rules for an Opening Ceremony drinking game. Be careful though, you’ll be drinking for bear costumes, bad Russian techno and ballet (with additional sips if accompanied by Stravinsky or Tchaikovsky). And you’ll drink again if a country’s wearing silly hats. 
Grantland has a rundown on six must see sports to watch. Yes, we’re happy that curling makes the list.
Meantime, Russian officials are fingering Western news organizations over “biased” coverage, specifically Time, The Economist and Der Speigel… along with Google, which has a rainbow Olympic doodle in support of the LGBT community. They’re probably not happy with @SochiProblems either.
NBC, which paid $4.4 billion for US broadcast rights through the 2020 Olympics, plans to stream 1,000 hours of events from Sochi, reports Advertising Age. Livestreaming is part of an overall online and social strategy to tackle the nine to twelve-hour time difference between Sochi and the east and west coasts of the United States.
Security, of course, is and has been an issue at global sporting events. Here’s a great backgrounder on the particulars of the Sochi Olympics from Mother Jones. For online threats, try The Christian Science Monitor. Take the near hysteria around the hackers in waiting stories with a grain of salt though. As Robert Graham of Errata Security explains, a similar story from NBC Nightly News doesn’t quite pass the sniff test.
All that said, bring on the games. Here’s your day-by-day schedule.
Image: A very fashionable Norwegian Curling Team, via Haaretz.

Let the Games Begin

The Olympics kicked off yesterday with some snowboarding and figure skating qualifiers.

Today saw the really big show: Opening Ceremonies.

For those watching tonight, SBNation helpfully provides rules for an Opening Ceremony drinking game. Be careful though, you’ll be drinking for bear costumes, bad Russian techno and ballet (with additional sips if accompanied by Stravinsky or Tchaikovsky). And you’ll drink again if a country’s wearing silly hats. 

Grantland has a rundown on six must see sports to watch. Yes, we’re happy that curling makes the list.

Meantime, Russian officials are fingering Western news organizations over “biased” coverage, specifically Time, The Economist and Der Speigel… along with Google, which has a rainbow Olympic doodle in support of the LGBT community. They’re probably not happy with @SochiProblems either.

NBC, which paid $4.4 billion for US broadcast rights through the 2020 Olympics, plans to stream 1,000 hours of events from Sochi, reports Advertising Age. Livestreaming is part of an overall online and social strategy to tackle the nine to twelve-hour time difference between Sochi and the east and west coasts of the United States.

Security, of course, is and has been an issue at global sporting events. Here’s a great backgrounder on the particulars of the Sochi Olympics from Mother Jones. For online threats, try The Christian Science Monitor. Take the near hysteria around the hackers in waiting stories with a grain of salt though. As Robert Graham of Errata Security explains, a similar story from NBC Nightly News doesn’t quite pass the sniff test.

All that said, bring on the games. Here’s your day-by-day schedule.

Image: A very fashionable Norwegian Curling Team, via Haaretz.

The Olympics Are Coming
Welcome to Russia.
Committee to Protect Journalists: Media suffer winter chill in coverage of Sochi OlympicsIn the run-up to the Sochi Winter Games, official repression and self-censorship have restricted news coverage of sensitive issues related to the Olympics, such as the exploitation of migrant workers, environmental destruction, and forced evictions.
Index on Censorship: A complete guide to who controls the Russian news mediaIn early 2000s various state agencies took financial or managerial control over 70 percent of electronic media outlets, 80 percent of the regional press, and 20 percent of the national press. As a result, Russian media continued to be used as tools of political control but now these “tools” were no longer distributed among competing political parties and businesses, but remained concentrated in the hands of a closed political circle that swore loyalty to President Putin.
Radio Free Europe: Russian Media Tests Boundaries Of State CensorshipIt’s not easy being a journalist in Russia, where attacks against reporters have made it one of the most dangerous places to work, and the government has sidelined much of the free press. Still, some media outlets remain highly critical of the authorities. Their journalists say their main difficulty isn’t so much that they’re not able to report about the country’s problems, it’s that no one’s listening.
Freedom House: 2013 Russia Country ReportAlthough the constitution provides for freedom of speech, vague laws on extremism grant the authorities great discretion to crack down on any speech, organization, or activity that lacks official support. The government controls, directly or through state-owned companies and friendly business magnates, all of the national television networks and many radio and print outlets, as well as most of the media advertising market. Only a small and shrinking number of radio stations and publications with limited reach offer a wide range of viewpoints. In December 2013, Putin abolished the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, which had developed a reputation for objective reporting, and folded it into a new entity called Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), which would be run by pro-Kremlin television commentator Dmitriy Kiselyov and Margarita Simonyan, the head of RT, the Kremlin’s propagandistic international television network. The Kremlin has also increased pressure on formerly outspoken outlets, such as the business newspaper Kommersant, which is now considered to be a progovernment publication.
Image: Cover, The Economist. The Triumph of Vladimir Putin.

The Olympics Are Coming

Welcome to Russia.

Committee to Protect Journalists: Media suffer winter chill in coverage of Sochi Olympics
In the run-up to the Sochi Winter Games, official repression and self-censorship have restricted news coverage of sensitive issues related to the Olympics, such as the exploitation of migrant workers, environmental destruction, and forced evictions.

Index on Censorship: A complete guide to who controls the Russian news media
In early 2000s various state agencies took financial or managerial control over 70 percent of electronic media outlets, 80 percent of the regional press, and 20 percent of the national press. As a result, Russian media continued to be used as tools of political control but now these “tools” were no longer distributed among competing political parties and businesses, but remained concentrated in the hands of a closed political circle that swore loyalty to President Putin.

Radio Free Europe: Russian Media Tests Boundaries Of State Censorship
It’s not easy being a journalist in Russia, where attacks against reporters have made it one of the most dangerous places to work, and the government has sidelined much of the free press. Still, some media outlets remain highly critical of the authorities. Their journalists say their main difficulty isn’t so much that they’re not able to report about the country’s problems, it’s that no one’s listening.

Freedom House: 2013 Russia Country Report
Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech, vague laws on extremism grant the authorities great discretion to crack down on any speech, organization, or activity that lacks official support. The government controls, directly or through state-owned companies and friendly business magnates, all of the national television networks and many radio and print outlets, as well as most of the media advertising market. Only a small and shrinking number of radio stations and publications with limited reach offer a wide range of viewpoints. In December 2013, Putin abolished the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, which had developed a reputation for objective reporting, and folded it into a new entity called Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), which would be run by pro-Kremlin television commentator Dmitriy Kiselyov and Margarita Simonyan, the head of RT, the Kremlin’s propagandistic international television network. The Kremlin has also increased pressure on formerly outspoken outlets, such as the business newspaper Kommersant, which is now considered to be a progovernment publication.

Image: Cover, The Economist. The Triumph of Vladimir Putin.

reuters:

To get different angles I jumped into the water almost every day to change positions and lenses. I spent almost 8 hours over the last two weeks in the Olympic pool doing 25 dives to adjust, replace or rescue the remote controlled underwater camera. This was definitely longer in the Olympic pool than stars like Michael Phelps from the U.S. spent.
To get this special perspective from below, we brought 6 Peli Cases containing some 200 kg (440 pounds) of equipment including 150 meters (yards) of power and network cables to the Aquatics Centre to place the underwater camera in the water. 
Often, I discovered that it is possible to sweat underwater. Those with diving knowledge know that 20 minutes for a dive, including getting into full scuba gear, getting into the pool and getting on your back under the water, is a very short amount of time. This would have been impossible without the friendly help of Simon and his dive crew. 
READ ON: Underwater Olympics by Reuters photog Michael Dalder

reuters:

To get different angles I jumped into the water almost every day to change positions and lenses. I spent almost 8 hours over the last two weeks in the Olympic pool doing 25 dives to adjust, replace or rescue the remote controlled underwater camera. This was definitely longer in the Olympic pool than stars like Michael Phelps from the U.S. spent.

To get this special perspective from below, we brought 6 Peli Cases containing some 200 kg (440 pounds) of equipment including 150 meters (yards) of power and network cables to the Aquatics Centre to place the underwater camera in the water. 

Often, I discovered that it is possible to sweat underwater. Those with diving knowledge know that 20 minutes for a dive, including getting into full scuba gear, getting into the pool and getting on your back under the water, is a very short amount of time. This would have been impossible without the friendly help of Simon and his dive crew. 

Best and Worst in Olympic Media Gold
Before we leave the Olympics behind here’s a selective roundup of some of the best (and worst) coverage we saw during the last two weeks.
We call it the FJP Media Games, English Language Edition.
Best Olympic CoverageGold: The BBCWhy: From FJP contributor John Johnston: ”The BBC’s coverage has been amazing throughout. They’ve had a stream of every sport on their website uninterrupted, their live player has had chapters installed to let you go back to any point of the action on their TV stations. They’ve had great pundits, great insight and have just covered it impeccably.”
Best Use of Lego Animations to Get Around IOC Licensing IssuesGold: The GuardianWhy: The International Olympic Committee is rather aggressive when it comes to protecting its brand. Only those who’ve paid steep licensing fees can broadcast moving images and other brand marks associated with the games. (For example, an English butcher near a yachting event was told he couldn’t display his sausages as Olympic rings).
The Guardian obviously didn’t have video to use in its reporting so it did the next — and possibly best — thing: It recreated weightlifting, gymnastics, basketball, track and swimming events out of stop motion legos.
Best Introduction to a Sport We Previously DismissedGold: Brian Phillips, Grantland. Sparkle MotionWhy: Writing on deadline, Phillips needed to come up with something about the Olympics. His plan was to write something snarky about “one of the sillier-sounding Olympic sports ‘race walking, maybe, or trampoline’” but then he discovered a love for Rhythmic Gymnastics:

The problem my little plan almost immediately ran into is that when, as part of my research, I started watching [Rhythmic Gymnastics] videos, I found that I actually liked it. I mean, I think you’re not supposed to say that if you’re an American sports fan with pretensions to red-bloodedness, but fuck it: These women are amazing. If you care about sports on any level beyond box scores and regional rivalries, if you love watching a wide receiver make an acrobatic catch or a striker score an off-balance goal, if you ever feel astonished by, just, like, the incredible things people do with their bodies — then I defy you to watch a few minutes of RG and not think it’s pretty cool.

Best Retro Technology Used to Report The OlympicsGold: The Animated GIFWhy, part 01: As Buzzfeed’s deputy sports editor Kevin Lincoln told Nieman Lab’s Andrew Phelps, “What GIFs do is sort of bridge the gap between an image and a video, which becomes incredibly useful in sports — you don’t have to wade through and listen to an entire highlight video, but at the same time, you get the motion and action that makes sports sports.”
Why, part 02: Check this use of animated GIFs to illustrate how and why a Korean fencer refused to leave the floor after a timing dispute lead to her defeat in a match for Olympic gold.
Best Owning of an Olympic MemeGold: McKayla MaroneyWhy: To be sixteen. To be an odds on favorite to win Olympic gold. To fall short, get caught in a photo with an odd expression your face and have that turn into a viral meme. That is the case of McKayla Maroney. Lesser spirits would hide under the table.
McKayla owns it though, posting a picture of herself and some teammates on Twitter/Instagram that they were #notimpressed that the Olympic pool was closed.
Dishonorable Mention
Worst Olympic CoverageGold: NBCWhy: Criticizing NBC became a sport in itself. But know what? Like other gold medalists, the network earned it. It wasn’t just the tape delays. Here’s a critique from Jim Sylvester in a comment to one of our posts.

NBC is offering some form of reality show that is loosely based on the Olympics, but it is not “sports coverage.” …For one, it lacks coherence.  It’s some sort of wretched compromise between continuous coverage and a Sports Center highlights review.  What NBC is peddling  is chopped up drips and drabs of pieces of events that interrupt the unceasing flow of advertisements - which is the real content being provided.
Supposedly there is an out (but only with a cable subscription - which seems to serve the purposes of NBC’s owner Comcast) to access all events live and online, but as anyone who has suffered with that service knows, it is unreliable, crashes, repeatedly buffers, and is heavily laden with ads imposed at short intervals that can and do interrupt events at critical moments.

Worst Reaction to An Olympic Gold MedalistGold: Some Haters on the Internet to Gabby Douglas’ HairWhy: We consider this self evident.
Most Dickish Profile of an Olympic AthleteGold: Jere Longman, New York Times. For Lolo Jones, Everything Is ImageWhy: From Slate’s Alyssa Rosenberg:

[A]s Olympic gymnastics and swimming competitions wound down and London and the world geared up for track and field, the New York Times published one of the nastiest profiles I’ve ever seen of an athlete, or really anyone, an indictment of the media presence of hurdler Lolo Jones. “Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be—vixen, virgin, victim—to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses,” wrote Jere Longman, in a piece that flayed Jones, while passing less judgment on the media outlets that have asked her to pose while scantily dressed or the companies that have purchased her endorsement.
In an Olympics that’s been marked by stories about the financial woes of athletes, and the financial disparities between the families of competitors, there’s something deeply strange about condemning a competitor for doing what it takes to fund a rigorous training program and to stay financially afloat.

See also, Isaac Rauch, Deadspin. What Did Lolo Jones Ever Do To The New York Times?
Worst Reaction to Olympic Media CriticismGold: (tie) Twitter and NBCWhy: As #NBCFail trended to a fever pitch, Twitter informed NBC how to file a complaint against British journalist Guy Adams for posting the corporate email address of NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel.
NBC followed through and Adams’ account was suspended until public outcry eventually got him reinstated.
Next Up
We’re sure you have your own so hit it in the reblogs or comments below. Next stop, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and then on to Rio.
Image: Evangelia Platanioti and Despoina Solomou of Greece in the synchronized swimming competition. Alberto Pizzoli, AFP/Getty Images, via New York Magazine.

Best and Worst in Olympic Media Gold

Before we leave the Olympics behind here’s a selective roundup of some of the best (and worst) coverage we saw during the last two weeks.

We call it the FJP Media Games, English Language Edition.

Best Olympic Coverage
Gold: The BBC
Why: From FJP contributor John Johnston: ”The BBC’s coverage has been amazing throughout. They’ve had a stream of every sport on their website uninterrupted, their live player has had chapters installed to let you go back to any point of the action on their TV stations. They’ve had great pundits, great insight and have just covered it impeccably.”

Best Use of Lego Animations to Get Around IOC Licensing Issues
Gold: The Guardian
Why: The International Olympic Committee is rather aggressive when it comes to protecting its brand. Only those who’ve paid steep licensing fees can broadcast moving images and other brand marks associated with the games. (For example, an English butcher near a yachting event was told he couldn’t display his sausages as Olympic rings).

The Guardian obviously didn’t have video to use in its reporting so it did the next — and possibly best — thing: It recreated weightlifting, gymnastics, basketball, track and swimming events out of stop motion legos.

Best Introduction to a Sport We Previously Dismissed
Gold: Brian Phillips, Grantland. Sparkle Motion
Why: Writing on deadline, Phillips needed to come up with something about the Olympics. His plan was to write something snarky about “one of the sillier-sounding Olympic sports ‘race walking, maybe, or trampoline’” but then he discovered a love for Rhythmic Gymnastics:

The problem my little plan almost immediately ran into is that when, as part of my research, I started watching [Rhythmic Gymnastics] videos, I found that I actually liked it. I mean, I think you’re not supposed to say that if you’re an American sports fan with pretensions to red-bloodedness, but fuck it: These women are amazing. If you care about sports on any level beyond box scores and regional rivalries, if you love watching a wide receiver make an acrobatic catch or a striker score an off-balance goal, if you ever feel astonished by, just, like, the incredible things people do with their bodies — then I defy you to watch a few minutes of RG and not think it’s pretty cool.

Best Retro Technology Used to Report The Olympics
Gold: The Animated GIF
Why, part 01: As Buzzfeed’s deputy sports editor Kevin Lincoln told Nieman Lab’s Andrew Phelps, “What GIFs do is sort of bridge the gap between an image and a video, which becomes incredibly useful in sports — you don’t have to wade through and listen to an entire highlight video, but at the same time, you get the motion and action that makes sports sports.”

Why, part 02: Check this use of animated GIFs to illustrate how and why a Korean fencer refused to leave the floor after a timing dispute lead to her defeat in a match for Olympic gold.

Best Owning of an Olympic Meme
Gold: McKayla Maroney
Why: To be sixteen. To be an odds on favorite to win Olympic gold. To fall short, get caught in a photo with an odd expression your face and have that turn into a viral meme. That is the case of McKayla Maroney. Lesser spirits would hide under the table.

McKayla owns it though, posting a picture of herself and some teammates on Twitter/Instagram that they were #notimpressed that the Olympic pool was closed.

Dishonorable Mention

Worst Olympic Coverage
Gold: NBC
Why: Criticizing NBC became a sport in itself. But know what? Like other gold medalists, the network earned it. It wasn’t just the tape delays. Here’s a critique from Jim Sylvester in a comment to one of our posts.

NBC is offering some form of reality show that is loosely based on the Olympics, but it is not “sports coverage.” …For one, it lacks coherence.  It’s some sort of wretched compromise between continuous coverage and a Sports Center highlights review.  What NBC is peddling  is chopped up drips and drabs of pieces of events that interrupt the unceasing flow of advertisements - which is the real content being provided.

Supposedly there is an out (but only with a cable subscription - which seems to serve the purposes of NBC’s owner Comcast) to access all events live and online, but as anyone who has suffered with that service knows, it is unreliable, crashes, repeatedly buffers, and is heavily laden with ads imposed at short intervals that can and do interrupt events at critical moments.

Worst Reaction to An Olympic Gold Medalist
Gold: Some Haters on the Internet to Gabby Douglas’ Hair
Why: We consider this self evident.

Most Dickish Profile of an Olympic Athlete
Gold: Jere Longman, New York Times. For Lolo Jones, Everything Is Image
Why: From Slate’s Alyssa Rosenberg:

[A]s Olympic gymnastics and swimming competitions wound down and London and the world geared up for track and field, the New York Times published one of the nastiest profiles I’ve ever seen of an athlete, or really anyone, an indictment of the media presence of hurdler Lolo Jones. “Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be—vixen, virgin, victim—to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses,” wrote Jere Longman, in a piece that flayed Jones, while passing less judgment on the media outlets that have asked her to pose while scantily dressed or the companies that have purchased her endorsement.

In an Olympics that’s been marked by stories about the financial woes of athletes, and the financial disparities between the families of competitors, there’s something deeply strange about condemning a competitor for doing what it takes to fund a rigorous training program and to stay financially afloat.

See also, Isaac Rauch, Deadspin. What Did Lolo Jones Ever Do To The New York Times?

Worst Reaction to Olympic Media Criticism
Gold: (tie) Twitter and NBC
Why: As #NBCFail trended to a fever pitch, Twitter informed NBC how to file a complaint against British journalist Guy Adams for posting the corporate email address of NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel.

NBC followed through and Adams’ account was suspended until public outcry eventually got him reinstated.

Next Up

We’re sure you have your own so hit it in the reblogs or comments below. Next stop, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and then on to Rio.

Image: Evangelia Platanioti and Despoina Solomou of Greece in the synchronized swimming competition. Alberto Pizzoli, AFP/Getty Images, via New York Magazine.

Technology and Photography at the Olympics

  • FJP: The New York Times interviews staff photographer Doug Mills who's covering his fifth Olympics. Here he talks about how technology is changing the production process. The full interview, and slide show, can be viewed here: http://nyti.ms/MjwYXv
  • NYT: One thing that’s been different this time is our speed on the Web. You take a photo, and it’s on the home page of The Times in a minute or two.
  • Doug Mills: Oh my gosh, this system that we have, that Josh Haner and Ben Koski put together, is a game-changer for us. It’s made us competitive with the wires, and frankly, we are not only competitive, we’re getting pictures out and on the Web site before anyone. My laptop has two card readers, a modem attached to it, and I have Ethernet cords attached to my cameras, both of them, that go through a router. The router goes into the laptop and through the high-speed connection that we have here at the Olympics.
  • NYT: When you started shooting the Olympics, you were shooting film.
  • Doug Mills: It’s come so far, now we’re taking a picture of a race, and it can be on the Internet by the time the person finishes it. It makes it so much more exciting to be here, to be able to compete.
  • NYT: Has the technology changed the way you shoot?
  • Doug Mills: It has completely changed the way we take pictures. I have to shoot a little tighter for the Web, because there is no cropping afterwards. We’re going straight from the camera, to my editor Becky Lebowitz’s laptop, and then to the Web. So I have to shoot a little tighter, and I have to be really conscious of my exposures. The disadvantage is that your mobility is cut down because you’re tethered. You only have a foot or two, to move. You can’t get up and run. We’re so packed in there you couldn’t do that anyway.
The Multiscreen Olympics
Via the Financial Times:

Google published some data on Tuesday showing that Olympics-related searches over mobile phone increased 10-fold in the first week of the games, and mobile is trumping any other technology at key moments. Google’s analysis showed, for example, that searches for Paul McCartney surged when the former Beatle played Hey Jude during the opening ceremony, and the largest proportion of these searches came from smart phones, rather than desktop computers. The data highlights how much the internet’s landscape is changing. The London Olympics are proving not just to be the first ‘social media games’ but also one where the mobile internet is coming of age…
…US broadcaster NBC reported last week that 45 per cent of its online video streams of the games are being delivered to smart phones and tablets. The BBC said 41 per cent of its video streams were going to mobile devices. 

The Financial Times, Smartphones trump desktops in Olympics viewing
Image: Olympics Related Global Mobile Search, via the Google Mobile Ads Blog.

The Multiscreen Olympics

Via the Financial Times:

Google published some data on Tuesday showing that Olympics-related searches over mobile phone increased 10-fold in the first week of the games, and mobile is trumping any other technology at key moments. Google’s analysis showed, for example, that searches for Paul McCartney surged when the former Beatle played Hey Jude during the opening ceremony, and the largest proportion of these searches came from smart phones, rather than desktop computers. The data highlights how much the internet’s landscape is changing. The London Olympics are proving not just to be the first ‘social media games’ but also one where the mobile internet is coming of age…

…US broadcaster NBC reported last week that 45 per cent of its online video streams of the games are being delivered to smart phones and tablets. The BBC said 41 per cent of its video streams were going to mobile devices. 

The Financial Times, Smartphones trump desktops in Olympics viewing

Image: Olympics Related Global Mobile Search, via the Google Mobile Ads Blog.

What GIFs do is sort of bridge the gap between an image and a video, which becomes incredibly useful in sports — you don’t have to wade through and listen to an entire highlight/video, but at the same time, you get the motion and action that makes sports sports.

Buzzfeed’s deputy sports editor Kevin Lincoln to Nieman Lab’s Andrew Phelps. The 2012 Summer Olympics are turning into a giant coming-out party for the animated GIF.

The Tumblrs, of course, have known this all along.

Thinking through #NBCFail
First, from Bryan Curtis via Grantland:

Every four years, we come together as a nation, united by a common purpose. We all want to bag on NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics. NBC’s promos are too mushy. Its talking heads are too pro-American. The sports are too, um, delayed. Twitter, home of the hashtag #NBCFail, is now the place we go faster, higher, snarkier. Americans might hate-watch the Oscars, we might pound our keyboards during the Super Bowl, but only at the sight of Bob Costas and company do we speak with such a homicidal, enraged voice.

Second, Salon’s Michael Barthel digs through LexisNexis and confirms that there are always stories about NBC tape delays. It’s just that this year there are a lot more of them (a projected 546 by the end of the week versus 38 during the entire 1992 Barcelona games).
Barthel has his culprit. It’s a Twitter thing:

[W]hat seems to be happening is that editors are monitoring Twitter, seeing that the tape delay issue is a much bigger news story than they thought, and consequently running far more news stories about it than they ever had before. In some ways, this would seem to confirm the utopian idea that the Internet gives consumers unprecedented power to talk back to big corporations and get them to correct faulty products, whether those be electronics or media coverage. But… Twitter is an unrepresentative sample of the population. If the higher volume of news stories about tape delay is being driven by the prevalence of the issue on Twitter, then this is not correcting news coverage. Rather, it is being distorted by a biased and self-interested group of technological elites. Twitter is serving as a “virtual public” for journalists eager to give the public what they want. But the virtual public seems to be far different from the real one.

Barthel’s critique then is that Twitter isn’t a representative demographic that news editors should necessarily follow. Instead, it’s a “virtual public” rather than an “actual public” and that virtual public is a well healed, technologically savvy one.
While the larger point of not mistaking the virtual for the actual holds, Twitter’s demographics have largely flattened. If you take a look at the Pew Internet May 2012 Survey you see that the largest percentage of users within groups are those making less than $30,000 per year, or are non-Hispanic blacks, or are between the age of 18 and 29.
So it’s not that Twitter is still the playground of a “self-interested group of technological elites.” It’s that users cluster on Twitter how they unfortunately cluster most everywhere: like follows like and we end up in an echo chamber.
For example, media and technology people follow media and technology people and in doing so are rubbing up against the same links, trends and sentiments. And that’s where our editors get into trouble with a quick look — rather than an in-depth analysis — of what’s happening in social media. There are too many people who’ve insulated themselves inside likeminded thought bubbles.
I bring this back to Bryan Curtis though for a last word. Our #NBCFail issue is that innocently enough we can believe in the Olympic ideal. The reality though is that that ideal can’t be commercially met:

We go ballistic on NBC because we get snowed by the Olympics ideal. We want to believe in “faster, higher, stronger.” In an internationalist jamboree in which the director of the Trainspotting toilet scene salutes the National Health Service. The Olympic ideal might be sanctimonious, and built on a mountain of financial bullshit, but it’s an appealing ideal all the same.
It has nothing, however, to do with NBC. The network paid $1.2 billion for the broadcast rights to the London Games. It’s got to use every trick — tape delay, schmaltz — to recoup its investment. If we get mad at NBC, it’s because we’re staring at the giant gap between ideal and reality. It disappoints us to learn that, for NBC, the Olympics serves the exact same purpose as Sunday Night Football.

Something about that seems about right. — Michael
Michael Barthel, Salon. Stop tweeting about NBC!
Image: Media mentions of tape delay issues, Seoul 1988 - London 2012, via Salon.

Thinking through #NBCFail

First, from Bryan Curtis via Grantland:

Every four years, we come together as a nation, united by a common purpose. We all want to bag on NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics. NBC’s promos are too mushy. Its talking heads are too pro-American. The sports are too, um, delayed. Twitter, home of the hashtag #NBCFail, is now the place we go faster, higher, snarkier. Americans might hate-watch the Oscars, we might pound our keyboards during the Super Bowl, but only at the sight of Bob Costas and company do we speak with such a homicidal, enraged voice.

Second, Salon’s Michael Barthel digs through LexisNexis and confirms that there are always stories about NBC tape delays. It’s just that this year there are a lot more of them (a projected 546 by the end of the week versus 38 during the entire 1992 Barcelona games).

Barthel has his culprit. It’s a Twitter thing:

[W]hat seems to be happening is that editors are monitoring Twitter, seeing that the tape delay issue is a much bigger news story than they thought, and consequently running far more news stories about it than they ever had before. In some ways, this would seem to confirm the utopian idea that the Internet gives consumers unprecedented power to talk back to big corporations and get them to correct faulty products, whether those be electronics or media coverage. But… Twitter is an unrepresentative sample of the population. If the higher volume of news stories about tape delay is being driven by the prevalence of the issue on Twitter, then this is not correcting news coverage. Rather, it is being distorted by a biased and self-interested group of technological elites. Twitter is serving as a “virtual public” for journalists eager to give the public what they want. But the virtual public seems to be far different from the real one.

Barthel’s critique then is that Twitter isn’t a representative demographic that news editors should necessarily follow. Instead, it’s a “virtual public” rather than an “actual public” and that virtual public is a well healed, technologically savvy one.

While the larger point of not mistaking the virtual for the actual holds, Twitter’s demographics have largely flattened. If you take a look at the Pew Internet May 2012 Survey you see that the largest percentage of users within groups are those making less than $30,000 per year, or are non-Hispanic blacks, or are between the age of 18 and 29.

So it’s not that Twitter is still the playground of a “self-interested group of technological elites.” It’s that users cluster on Twitter how they unfortunately cluster most everywhere: like follows like and we end up in an echo chamber.

For example, media and technology people follow media and technology people and in doing so are rubbing up against the same links, trends and sentiments. And that’s where our editors get into trouble with a quick look — rather than an in-depth analysis — of what’s happening in social media. There are too many people who’ve insulated themselves inside likeminded thought bubbles.

I bring this back to Bryan Curtis though for a last word. Our #NBCFail issue is that innocently enough we can believe in the Olympic ideal. The reality though is that that ideal can’t be commercially met:

We go ballistic on NBC because we get snowed by the Olympics ideal. We want to believe in “faster, higher, stronger.” In an internationalist jamboree in which the director of the Trainspotting toilet scene salutes the National Health Service. The Olympic ideal might be sanctimonious, and built on a mountain of financial bullshit, but it’s an appealing ideal all the same.

It has nothing, however, to do with NBC. The network paid $1.2 billion for the broadcast rights to the London Games. It’s got to use every trick — tape delay, schmaltz — to recoup its investment. If we get mad at NBC, it’s because we’re staring at the giant gap between ideal and reality. It disappoints us to learn that, for NBC, the Olympics serves the exact same purpose as Sunday Night Football.

Something about that seems about right. — Michael

Michael Barthel, Salon. Stop tweeting about NBC!

Image: Media mentions of tape delay issues, Seoul 1988 - London 2012, via Salon.

Race of the Ages
A delightful animated visualization from the New York Times places every gold medal winner in Olympic history in the men’s 100 meter sprint on the same track to compare how they would have done against each other.
Usain Bolt still wins. What’s remarkable is that Carl Lewis, the last man to successfully defend his 100 meter crown, wouldn’t even come close to medaling, and Tom Burke, the 1896 winner, would be a full 60 feet behind with his winning run of 12 seconds. 
Image: Screenshot of All the Medalists: Men’s 100-Meter Sprint, via the New York Times.

Race of the Ages

A delightful animated visualization from the New York Times places every gold medal winner in Olympic history in the men’s 100 meter sprint on the same track to compare how they would have done against each other.

Usain Bolt still wins. What’s remarkable is that Carl Lewis, the last man to successfully defend his 100 meter crown, wouldn’t even come close to medaling, and Tom Burke, the 1896 winner, would be a full 60 feet behind with his winning run of 12 seconds. 

Image: Screenshot of All the Medalists: Men’s 100-Meter Sprint, via the New York Times.

horaciogaray:

From the Guardian US, a simple site that tells you if a record was broken today, and if so, what records. It was pieced together with Google Docs and github, and uses the New York Times Olympics API. 

FJP: They also have an interesting experiment called the Guardian Olympics Second Screen that let’s you follow coverage via a timeline interface.

horaciogaray:

From the Guardian US, a simple site that tells you if a record was broken today, and if so, what records. It was pieced together with Google Docs and github, and uses the New York Times Olympics API. 

FJP: They also have an interesting experiment called the Guardian Olympics Second Screen that let’s you follow coverage via a timeline interface.

Let the Olympics Begin… Just Make Sure Street Artists are Kept at Bay
Via the Guardian:

When Adidas wanted to create a mural to illustrate the launch of its new football boot last year, it turned to “professional graffiti artist” Darren Cullen for help. Cullen, 38, runs a firm providing spraycan artwork and branding to major international companies, and says he has never painted illegally on a wall or train.
But despite having worked with one of the Games’s major sponsors, on Tuesday Cullen was arrested by British Transport Police (BTP) and barred from coming within a mile of any Olympic venue, as part of a pre-emptive sweep against a number of alleged graffiti artists before the Olympics.
BTP confirmed that four men from Kent, London and Surrey, aged between 18 and 38, had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage, two of whom were also further arrested on suspicion of incitement to commit criminal damage.
They were bailed until November under strict conditions restricting their access to rail, tube and tram transport, preventing them from owning spray paint or marker pens, and ordering them not to go near any Olympic venue in London or elsewhere. None has been charged.

Image: Pole Vaulting, via Banksy.

Let the Olympics Begin… Just Make Sure Street Artists are Kept at Bay

Via the Guardian:

When Adidas wanted to create a mural to illustrate the launch of its new football boot last year, it turned to “professional graffiti artist” Darren Cullen for help. Cullen, 38, runs a firm providing spraycan artwork and branding to major international companies, and says he has never painted illegally on a wall or train.

But despite having worked with one of the Games’s major sponsors, on Tuesday Cullen was arrested by British Transport Police (BTP) and barred from coming within a mile of any Olympic venue, as part of a pre-emptive sweep against a number of alleged graffiti artists before the Olympics.

BTP confirmed that four men from Kent, London and Surrey, aged between 18 and 38, had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage, two of whom were also further arrested on suspicion of incitement to commit criminal damage.

They were bailed until November under strict conditions restricting their access to rail, tube and tram transport, preventing them from owning spray paint or marker pens, and ordering them not to go near any Olympic venue in London or elsewhere. None has been charged.

Image: Pole Vaulting, via Banksy.

The Guardian’s Behind the lens: The making of great Olympic photos is a great audio slide show with sports photographer Tom Jenkins and former picture editor Eamonn McCabe. 
In it, they run through the logistics of trying to be in the right place at the right time, changing technology for getting images back to their news organizations and when and where photographers can get extra creative in their shots.

The Guardian’s Behind the lens: The making of great Olympic photos is a great audio slide show with sports photographer Tom Jenkins and former picture editor Eamonn McCabe. 

In it, they run through the logistics of trying to be in the right place at the right time, changing technology for getting images back to their news organizations and when and where photographers can get extra creative in their shots.

The AP Plans to Use Robotic Cameras for Olympic Coverage
The Associated Press isn’t just sending photographers, photo editors and video journalists to the Olympics. They’re also booting up the robots.
Via the AP:

Remote-controlled robotic cameras at the swimming, weightlifting and diving venues will provide alternative angles, including under water, to supplement AP’s regular photo coverage. In addition to a selection of hand-placed remote cameras at a several other venues, such as those for gymnastics, track and field, AP photographers will use the latest Canon 1DX cameras and take advantage of new workflows and technology to move more photos faster than ever before.  

Being the remote operator would be a fun gig. — Michael

The AP Plans to Use Robotic Cameras for Olympic Coverage

The Associated Press isn’t just sending photographers, photo editors and video journalists to the Olympics. They’re also booting up the robots.

Via the AP:

Remote-controlled robotic cameras at the swimming, weightlifting and diving venues will provide alternative angles, including under water, to supplement AP’s regular photo coverage. In addition to a selection of hand-placed remote cameras at a several other venues, such as those for gymnastics, track and field, AP photographers will use the latest Canon 1DX cameras and take advantage of new workflows and technology to move more photos faster than ever before.  

Being the remote operator would be a fun gig. — Michael