Kev’s Thoughts On… More Olympics & Media, Four Years Forward

Posted: March 23rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Kev's Thoughts On... | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

It seems that un-wanted media outbreaks are going to be the norm from here on out gearing up for the Olympics. As most of you are aware, there has been a lot happening in Tibet of late. So much so that YouTube has been blocked out of China again, at certain times cars are not allowed to drive past Tiananmen Square, and even my friend’s integrated foreign-Chinese play has been shut down from performing in the central province of Sichuan, just because it may be to “risky”.

I think its going to continue all the way through to the Olympics, with every organization and lobbying group using this occasion as a platform for their own specific agenda. I guess that’s to be expected. A lot of people are apprehensive about what’s happening, starting with Tibet and anxious to see what will spring up next. William Moss, writer of the blog Imagethief, one of the more popular expat bloggers in China, writes: “The Chinese expected the Olympics to change foreign perceptions of China for the better. Foreigners expected the Olympics to change China for the better.” You can read the blog here.

Its interesting though, that with this Tibet situation, all the news agencies are declaring that for the first time, China has “admitted” that the protests have spread beyond Tibet’s borders. This viral media situation is in continuation of the CCTV-Anchor’s wife scandal, and the Edison scandal mentioned last posting. Maybe this is the tipping point where China really can no longer control every aspect of information flow in and out of China. Perhaps new media now has enough momentum and diffusion that it can force the Chinese government’s hand for a marginally more transparent media environment. BusinessWeek seems to think so: “…the crackdown failed as witnesses bypassed the country’s “Great Firewall” by uploading photos and videos to other, uncensored Web sites.” The article can be found here.

Regardless, I think we are all hoping that China can handle everything that is coming its way. Not trying to discount the importance of the causes that these groups are trying to raise awareness for, but most people agree peaceful and steady progress is the key to everything. While we celebrate new media and the multitude of capabilities, opportunities and changes it grants on societies and cultures all over the world, it is important to be cautious and even critical on how we use it.

We haven’t discovered yet whether crowd-sourcing and the web 2.0 public wields responsibility with its increased influence. I think China will really be the testing grounds for finding the answers to that question. With the last three media-frenzied events, and those still coming, I hope China, the public and the world are ready and responsible for how we handle Web 2.0′s full emergence onto the world stage.

Kev’s Thoughts On… Olympics & Media, four years forward

Posted: February 23rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Kev's Thoughts On... | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I generally try to stay away from saying the ‘O’ word as much as I can, mostly in fear that I will preemptively overkill what is guaranteed to be the most saturated subject in my life for the next 6 to 9 months. But I had to comment on what we are likely going to see this Olympic round that will be vastly different than Athens ’04 or Sydney ’00.

Media is playing a whole new ballgame this time around folks. I don’t know if people (the Olympic committee, the Chinese government, passive on-lookers like you & me) truly realize how media’s growth from ’04 to ’08 will change the way we experience the Olympics from here on forward.

Household names like Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, Twitter, and the big one – blogs – were non-existent or in their infancy during Athens ’04. How many people walking into the Beijing Olympic village this year will have cameras in their cellphones ready to record anything out of the ordinary? And I am not just talking about scandals or infractions on Human Rights or political protests; I’m talking about pictures and videos of athlete’s ‘off camera’ reactions before/after their competition, or fans’ antics. There are more media recorders going in, and more media outlets coming out. Beijing ’08 is in for a totally new experience.

Recent events remind me more and more that we’re going to be seeing a whole new side of the Olympics. January’s Olympic scandal during an Olympic – CCTV (China’s National TV Broadcaster) press conference kicked of the new year with a viral bang. The press conference was interrupted by the wife of the Olympic/CCTV announcer coming on camera and telling everyone her husband was a cheater and that China’s culture was all backwards. You can read an article about it here or try to watch the actual video (caught on someone’s cellphone camera) here. Unfortunately for everyone in China who’s late in watching this video, its all been blocked by that great firewall of China, although I’m sure if you did a little more digging you’d find it somewhere.

Then, just as things were starting to settle down, the Edison Chen scandal hit just before Chinese New Year in late January. Edison, a famous HK movie star had sent his laptop in for repairs, and when the technicians were rummaging inside Edison’s hard drive, they found a treasure trove of pictures and home videos of Edison with the many, many, many celebrity women that he has been with. These pictures and videos of course were leaked everywhere on the internet for all to see. The aftermath continues to today, with Edison announcing his ‘retirement’ from the film business. You can read about it here or here or here or here. After thinking about it, I have decided not to put links directly to the pictures of videos on my blog, but they really aren’t that hard to find.

I digress. But maybe that’s kind of the point. In 2 months we’ve seen two of the biggest scandals in the Asia Pacific region, and both were captured, and perpetuated by new media. This will be the first time the Olympics will be exposed to this type of coverage. What does that mean, and is everyone prepared for it? Everyone used to be glued to their TV sets watching the medal counts and coverage from highly editorialized broadcasters. Will that be the same, this time around? Four years forward has meant a lifetime of change for Olympic media coverage.