Citizen Journalism and the Olympics
Will the London Olympics be where citizen journalism really takes off? It should be.
Press coverage of the London Olympics has been controversial. Only one of the local newspapers around the Olympic Park has received official press accreditation, despite the huge impact the event will have on the communities they cover.
And last week the Black newspaper The Voice was first denied official accreditation, then had a pass “found” for it. There are also controversies over the use of social media, branding, and editorial coverage.
Who gets access to Olympics news is now big news in itself. So it is unsurprising that alternative voices are trying to be heard.
A new Citizen Newswire
#media2012 bills itself as “the go-to citizen newswire for the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic cultural and community news”.
It aims to democratise media production on the games by directing audiences towards new, independent voices.
It’s fair to say that most of the coverage will be on the impact on communities and the cultural events, as the sports themselves will be well served by the mainstream media.
But the key difference between #media2012 and the rest of the press coverage of the Olympics is that it is citizen-led, independent, and has a deliberately collaborative feel.
The project itself is fairly neutral on whether the Olympics is a good or bad thing. But in general, their aims for the project (and mission statement) emphasise that they believe in the broader objectives of the Olympic movement.
“It's important to understand that #media2012 is a diverse network. The Charter does aim to speak to values that all can adopt, but I would not wish to claim that all of our friends are signed up to the whole thing. Some are quite opposed to the Olympics in principle, irrespective of the media ownership issue,” says Miah.
The future of media
But however well this project fares, the concept will grow. #London2012 sees this as the first Olympics with a significant citizen journalist presence - and one that should remain independent.
“Each Games will require local leadership to advance the cause, but the rise of social media has really given the opportunity for citizen journalism to flourish. The one thing we need to be cautious of is the appropriation of citizen journalism by mass media who are beginning to invite bloggers into their domains. This can be good for Citizen Journalists, but it may also undermine their independence and credibility”, says Miah.
So as well as being a good way to learn about the Games, Citizen Journalism is also the future for media. It allows more diversity in views and more events to be covered than traditional media - and has an integrity that other forms of news don’t have.
And after a year of media scandals, this is the right time for the movement. Miah says, “I think people get the idea that we are trying to reclaim the principles of the Olympics as a social movement and, at a time when the Leveson Inquiry has gripped the UK's attention around media ethics, I think our contribution is both needed and desired.”
Banner, Lil Toad on Flickr Creative Commons
#media2012 logo, thanks to #media2012
training camp, thanks to Jennifermackenziejones on Flickr Creative Commons