Bricklin: All the Olympic action, right at your fingertips
Why do you see and hear Olympics-related stuff everywhere? Because my compadres and I are paid to tell the story. Everywhere.More than 11,000 people are officially credentialed as media for these Winter Olympics. Among them, 2,800 print journalists (hey, that’s me – LOL) and 8,200 folks associated with television broadcasting. There are another 2,000 unaccredited media, but I’m not sure what that means. The amount of resources associated with accommodating the media is enormous. The Vancouver Convention Center is a combination of large buildings jutting out into Coal Harbor. The waterfront is immediately adjacent to downtown and the views across the water towards North Vancouver include constant seaplane traffic and snow-capped mountains in the distance. The building next to the Olympic cauldron is the International Broadcast Center and the building to the east is the Media Press Center. Despite the fact that it’s so big, nobody can enter either building without proper credentials. Passes are scanned and at times airport-style body searches and baggage checks are required for entry.The Media Press Center has more than 800 work stations for writers in a massive workspace broken up by rows of televisions broadcasting all events live from all venues. Multiple outlets for high speed Internet and electricity adorn every spot. In addition, some larger media organizations have their own sectioned-off newsrooms within this same area: AP, USA Today, New York Times, Getty Images, Vancouver Sun, Globe & Mail, Boston Globe (not located with the NY TImes) and Tribune Company – L.A. Times/Chicago Tribune. Photographers have 30 photo stations with large screen monitors and are fully supported on-site by booths from Canon, Nikon, Sandisk and Lexar. Finding the exit is an exercise in M.C Escher navigation.A cafe is set up with a large McDonald’s, along with three smaller restaurants. A series of press conference rooms, a bank, travel agency, post office, retail store, an underground bus depot, subway station and hotel complete the press center. And this is just at the MPC, and doesn’t include the IBC next door or the press centers at every Olympic venue with similar albeit smaller setups.Whistler has a main media center and a few miles south, there is a three-story media center at the base of the alpine ski courses, all with vast amounts of the same electronic hook ups. If Circuit City had gotten this contract, they wouldn’t have had to close shop. At events like ceremonies, hockey games, speed skating and figure skating the more important media reps are sitting in seats with workstations, their laptops connected. You can see these seats when watching any indoor event on NBC this weekend. A huge fleet of touring buses moves members of the media to every venue, including Whistler and Cypress Mountain, from 5 a.m. to midnight.It’s an operation of comic-book proportions. So much news-gathering and fact finding is done by the Olympic News Service, there’s no need for to really dig for stories – unless you want to know who’s partying with whom, or who left town in a hurry.The Olympic News Service writes previews of every competitor, every venue, every racecourse. Vail locals David O. Williams and Tommy Boyd are both employed by the Olympic News Service, one based at Whistler, the other Cypress Mountain. After every event, they provide a complete recap, generally within minutes. Monitors provide all the historical data a reporter needs about athletes, Olympic history, schedules, practices – everything. In fact, I’ve just received notice via my phone that with his performance Friday, Bode became the ninth Olympic alpine skier to win two or more medals at two separate Olympic Winter Games He is the only one on the list without a gold medal. The factoids go on and on. If I were a real journalist, I could make something of it.After all competitions and after doping tests, all medalists are required to attend press conferences and most of those come through the International Broadcast Center and Media Press Center. In fact, a reporter might not have to leave the press center to write a pretty damn good, accurate story on any event. Of course, this can’t capture the intangibles – the magic and the energy the athletes feed off of in the moment and from the cheering crowd. But from an experienced reporter’s keyboard, it sure can come close.Credentialed media have access to nearly everything and with the exception of food, it is all free. All bus and train/subway transportation is free. All events are free, though a handful of events require tickets, such as semi-final and championship hockey games and the opening and closing ceremonies. The media are truly VIPs because it is so important for Vancouver and British Columbia and the International Olympic Committee that the media tell their story. With a little help from the VANOC, of course. After all, these are their games.Our marketing guy, Mark Bricklin, will be covering elements of the 2010 Winter Games from Vancouver and Whistler – a very nonsports perspective focusing on buzz, sponsors, swag, the crowds, the zany and the marketing. Want him to check something out while he’s there? Let him know at email@example.com.
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