I don't have to tell you that the 2010 Winter Olympics are coming to Vancouver, because we've been hearing about it regularly for the last few years. But who gets to tell the story? Raincity Studios folk and local mavens of social media Dave Olson and Kris Krug wrote the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC) for permission to attend today's Worldwide Press Briefing, but received no response. About 200 representatives of various international press organizations have come to the city to be briefed on press services and facilities, and to tour Olympic venues. Unlike many Vancouverites that were outside the event in the rain protesting the Olympics, Olson and Krug had intentions of journalism, not protest. Between them and Raincity CEO Robert Scales, they've unofficially covered the last four Olympic games, in addition to Olson's blogging and podcasting of Canucks hockey. Krug posted to Twitter as they tried to get in:
Got stopped at the door. "if you guys are here to protest pls go accross the street". Now they're checkin our credentials.
We were just escorted from the building. We had better access, even a welcome in Beijing and Torino.
@todmaffin agreed they can't make us go home. but we're not here to protest in the rain, we're here as jounalists.
Unfortunate to see this outcome, but not surprising. VANOC has seemingly been given whatever power and money necessary to shoehorn this elephant of an event into Vancouver. This includes suggesting that business close during the Olympics, and trademarking phrases of our national anthem. Recent elections have proved the power of online media in getting stories out whether mainstream media gets around to it or not. The online conversation about the Olympics happens regardless of VANOC's approval. It becomes their choice to be a part of it, or alienate it.
Excerpts from DaveO's open letter to VANOC:
In brief, we'd like to have a conversation about how to allow fans and amateur media makers to document their Olympic experience while keeping out of the way of the IOC IP lawyers. As a company and as individuals, we've produced extensive, non-accredited coverage of Beijing 2008, Torino 2006, SLC 2002, and Nagano 1998. With the next games literally in our neighborhood, we'll be hosting an independent, international media centre at our Gastown loft office. As part of this, we'll organize events like photo walks and aggregate fan-made content for the enjoyment of a worldwide audience. We'd like to work with you to do this for mutual benefit.
We are aware of your obligations to media rights holders and are seeking to provide an entirely different sort of coverage than the accredited media provide. We are not looking to cover events per se but are instead interested in covering the cultural stories, athletes' families' stories, and stories from fans who saved and traveled from around the world for this experience. In other words, we plan to encourage and aggregate fan coverage of the individual's "on the street" experience of the Games. We are locals who have watched (and helped pay for) the development of the Games since before the Plebiscite - as a result, we are tuned in to the issues and excitement surrounding the Games.