Below is the abstract that I submitted to the International Olympic Academy Postgraduate Session committee back in March. I recently found out that had been accepted and I would be representing the United Kingdom this September. Stoked. The Postgraduate Session is a four week seminar space (a bit like a summer school) that is dedicated to varies aspects of the Olympic movement and Olympism. It is located in Greece, nearby to the ancient Olympia (where the first games were held) – of course, when I told my mum that I had been given this prestigious opportunity, she said that firstly, I need to work out what to wear (because I am essentially the typical pale and translucent blogger, not used to the sunshine of Greece) and secondly, to behave. Of course I’ll behave! Because it is a good opportunity, new media is rarely explored but very important for the future of the Games and I can’t wait to spend 4 weeks geeking out over my research interests. Having attended the alumni meet up of the IOA participants, it was really nice to be within the small and dedicated group of people who conduct research in this area and to share discussions about all things Olympics. I have heard good things and I am well excited by this opportunity.
So there you go. Roll on September.
18th International Seminar on Olympic Studies for Postgraduate Students
Harnessing the ‘Twitter Olympics’:
The Use of New Media from Vancouver 2010 to London 2012
by Jennifer M. Jones
Recent transformations in media production and delivery demonstrates a model of communication which is seen to shift consumption from a ‘one-to-many’ mass audience paradigm, to a ‘many-to-many’ multi-niche experience. This is characterised by the convergence of broadcast media such as television and newspaper journalism, emerging internet technologies such as access to low-cost computing and mobile equipment and wider adoption of broadband, and trends towards participatory media cultures, signified by user generated content and multiple platform audience experiences (Jenkins, 2006: 2) By creating new kinds of interaction between people, via augmented reality devices and pervasive mobile culture, changes in media participation are allowing audiences to become part of the production process, giving rise to a proposed new power relationship between audiences, broadcasters and journalists.
It is widely understood that the financial implications of the Olympic infrastructure is heavily reliant on the revenue negotiated through the sponsorship from the Olympic program (TOP) and the broadcasting rights of event (IOC Marketing Factfile, 2010: 6). This has remained the case since the IOC’s financial crisis in the 1980s, allowing for corporations carry the bulk of the cost of delivery. Nevertheless, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have taken confident steps towards embracing digital media within their existing communication and media strategies, demonstrated in October 2009, when one of their core themes at the 13th Olympic Congress being devoted to the “Digital Revolution.” Previously, innovation in such areas had been driven by the Olympic partners. For example Samsung’s “Wireless Olympic Works” 1 launched during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, showcasing early advances in mobile internet, designed to help ATHNOC officials and Games organisers to access important, digital information on the move. Similarly, Beijing 2008 was billed as being the first truly digital games, thanks to media partners such as the BBC and NBC, who introduced full online and high definition coverage of the games, revolutionising the way in which the sport was experienced by their audiences. Indeed, it is reasonable to claim that, from Games to Games, sponsors aspire to achieve greater ‘personal bests’, as do the athletes. Yet, the IOC Congress brought the IOC’s work in this area to the foreground. Martin Sorrell’s recommendations towards a digital revolution spoke about the power of improved broadcast quality and reached out to the potential of utilising participatory media (such as social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter) and actively encouraging Olympic fans to recount their experiences of previous games by advising the release of archival clips on video-sharing platforms on YouTube to encourage fan-generated content through remixing and responding.
With the proposed transformation of communication technologies, the media population during games time has diversified. For example, since Sydney 2000, there has been the emergence of host city sponsored, non-accredited media centre providing facilities and access to visiting journalists/bloggers without IOC media accreditation. (Miah, Garcia & Zhihui, 2008: 453) More recently during the Vancouver Winter Olympics, as well as a British Columbia government hosted centre, there were at least three declared independent centres that were acknowledged and formalised prior to the Games, to report stories from within Vancouver and the surrounding region. The space each organisation occupied had differing access to media production facilities, from providing physical space for work and discussions to existing purely online, choosing not to subscribe to physical representation of their institution.
This paper discusses this case and looks specifically at this substantial and online media presence, I use examples of past Games media outputs and combine them with ethnographic stories from Vancouver 2010, along with analysis of the online platforms from several case study groups working as new media collectives during games time. The focus will be on four key organisations, who provided a form of media accreditation throughout the games period: The Vancouver Organising Committee (accredited), The British Columbia Media Centre (non-accredited), W2 Arts and Culture House (independent media centre) and True North Media House (online only, self-accreditation).
I consider two major dimensions of this phenomena. Firstly, it is necessary to explore how those within the case networks identity themselves and with each other, either through the content that they have produced for an online audience or the ways in which they use media rhetoric to strengthen the authority of their reporting and of their position. Second, it is important to assess what opportunities arise through participation as an organised citizen media network, and how this may have an effect on their ability to analysis or critique narratives and events.
Together, this data provides preliminary theoretical assessment of citizen media in the context of media events, which will be used to inform future embedded research toward the coordination of #media2012, a citizen media network for London 2012. Through analysis, questions remain about whether such transference of media power is actually occurring, or whether these stories simply become part of a new cycle that gives them currency. Indeed, it is unclear whether the new communities of ‘citizen reporters’ who are beginning to occupy the privileged position that accredited Olympic media has within the central broadcasts are genuinely transformative of media culture.
IOC (2009) XIII Olympic Congress Theme 5: The Digital Revolution (September 2009) Available at: http://bit.ly/IOCdigitalrevolution [Accessed 14th of March, 2011]
IOC (2010) Olympic Marketing Fact File. Available at http://www.olympic.org/Documents/IOC_Marketing/IOC_Marketing_Fact_File_2010%20r.pdf [Accessed 14th of March, 2011]
Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where New Media and Old Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.
Miah, A., Gracia, B., & Zhihui, T. (2008) We are the Media: Non-Acredited Media Centres in Price, E M. & Dayan, P. (2008) Owning the Olympics: Narratives of the New China. University of Michigan Press: USA: pp 452-488