Keeping it Real…

Keeping it Real… header image 2

Media Broadcasters to Carry Olympic Torch

October 26th, 2009 · 34 Comments

It is a move I find almost incredible, CTV has announced it will have 30 of its broadcasters take part in the Olympic Torch relay across the country.

In B.C., you’re probably hearing it here first. And the word I get is that Canwest Global BC will also have  “talent” taking part directly in the Olympic Torch Relay. And CBC has been invited too: Peter Mansbridge maybe?  But unlike CTV, as far as I can find, they haven’t said a word so far.

In my view, it’s a disgrace to journalistic ethics … and will hurt Canadian media credibility once more. Is that what they really need at this time???

According to the CTV announcement made back East, among the network talent who will take part, as ”torchbearers” will be:  Brian Williams, CTV’s Prime Time Olympic HOST; James Duthie, CTV Olympic Daytime HOST; Michael Landsberg, CTV Olympic Daytime Whistler HOST; and, quite incredibly to me,  CTV NEWS ANCHORS Ken Shaw, Christine Bentley, Carol Meehan, Daryl McIntyre, Carrie Doll, Barb Higgins, Mark Rogstad, Tony Ryma .. all from CTV stations across the country.

And Robert Hurst, CTV News President, told me Sunday night “There will be two or three torchbearers from CTV BC as well.”

Hmmm!  Bill Good, Pamela Martin Tamara Taggart?

And not just anchors or program hosts will take part: CTV REPORTERS will be part of the journalistic disgrace: so far announced … Carolyn Waldo, Sports Reporter in Ottawa; Liz Rigney, Atlantic Canada Reporter; and, Stephen Brunt, Olympic Columnist, CTV.ca.

Joining a number of other CTV stars … like Ben Mulroney.  :)

“I have been told all Canadian networks have accepted,” Hurst said.

Talk about conflict of interest! Surely the public could be forgiven if they fail to believe that, after accepting this  ”honour” at the Olympics,  these on-camera  “talent” will also give us an honest or critical assessment of what’s really going on during the Games … and not just  hype  designed to support and project  a positive image of happenings at the Olympics.

I have no problem with individuals, companies, community organizations, public organizations supporting the Games. I personally hope they work out teriffically for Vancouver, B.C.,  Canada and all the athletes and participants.

But the media who cover the games and activities should NOT also take part in them.  Period!

The revelations about what I see as a clear  journalistic ethical sellout first came to me in a Toronto Star blog done by Randy Starkman, who has covered Team Canada at 11 Olympic Games, dating back to 1984.

Starkman was also offered an opportunity to carry the torch by another Olympic sponsor … but declined. “No journalist should be carrying the torch,” he said,

I agree … and I believe anchors are journalists (or at least they SHOULD  be) and so are the television  ”hosts” who will be bringing us hour after hour of daily details of what’s supposedly going on at and surrounding the Games.   Will you trust their reporting …. or see it as spin?

Hurst acknowledges that many Canadians will be skeptical about the network’s participation in the Torch Relay, but says broadcasters in several previous Olympics have done the same and vows it will have absolutely no effect on news coverage.

“We are the rights holder for the Olympic Games and have been doing all sorts of stories,: the CTV top News executive told me. “We do the good stories and the bad stories … however they come at us.”

When I asked him how impartial will anchors etc look, sitting on the set afterwards, beaming and raving about the experience, Hurst vowed news impartiality will be protected.

If an incident occcurs on the run during a network performer’s participation, that participant will not do the story, he explained.

Now, you may have not have heard this reported down here, but in Toronto it’s big news … egged on by the  Star and Toronto Sun, perhaps enjoying taking shots at competitors CTV Globemedia.

But why so quiet here?? If they are taking part, see no conflict and are so proud of taking part … why haven’t CBC, Canwest Global been publicly promoting … or announcing their participation?  Did I miss it? Or am I scooping them on their own story? (I love it!!)

And making it all worse is the fact that the media in Central Canada have been playing up that thousands of  other Canadians, who applied to carry the torch, including at least one former Olympic athlete,  have been turned down … no more space along the line.

Hurst said according to Vanoc, there will be 12,000 torchbearers: 70% of them from the ranks of ordinary Canadians; and 30 per cent selected by Vanoc, the IOC, and government.  The media were invited by Vanoc.

Maybe the “broadcasters” should give up their perk so more of those ordinary Canadians who actually applied can carry the torch?  That would be showing the TRUE Olympic spirit!

When I continued to press my old Ottawa colleague about the ethics of participating in something you cover, Hurst asked me a good question:  do I vote?

Actually, I informed him,  I did NOT vote when I covered the BC Legislature OR Parliament. It was a personal decision I made at the time … and maintained for decades until I stopped directly covering those beats.

Hurst disagreed with that practice: voting is a citizen’s responsibility he argued, even for reporters covering political beats. And the CTV News President thinks carrying the torch, at the invitation of Vanoc,  and then covering the Olympics is no different than voting and covering politics.

I disagree: I see it more  like actively participating in political activities … and then reporting on politics.

Unacceptable.

Harv Oberfeld

Tags: British Columbia · Media

34 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Henri Paul // Oct 26, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Hurst asked me a good question: do I vote?
    ————————————
    all though be it a loaded question…
    Like a double edge sword , you get cut by either side. And you did.

  • 2 Norman Farrell // Oct 26, 2009 at 5:28 am

    This smells like part of the secret renegotiations VANOC did to keep sponsors at the table when the crazy sense of more-more-more forever disappeared in the financial meltdown of 2008. We can’t know all the details but we know they cut some sweetheart deals. Here, CTV gets extra PR and near endless fluff to spread across the network.

  • 3 Crankypants // Oct 26, 2009 at 7:47 am

    I can only partially agree with you on this one. I don’t think that we can expect objective reporting on the 2010 olympics from CTV and its affiliates because they hold the rights to broadcast the events in Canada. Their participation in the torch run will probably have little effect on their objectivity. That ship left the dock a long time ago.

    I do agree that they should not get priority because of who they work for. I don’t know what criteria Vanoc is using to choose the torch bearers, but all those that put their names forward should be treated equally. For many of these volunteers the torch run will be the only way they will be able to participate and lend their support for the games. The media types will have access to olympic venues and activities whereas these volunteers will have to be happy to view the events on TV.

    Those that work for Canwest-Global and CBC should be careful. They may be putting themselves in a situation where they could be charged for ambush marketing. Now that would probably illicet a news story or two.

    I suspect the only objective coverage of the games will come from media based outside Canada’s borders. There may be some from national feeds outside the province due to provincial rivalries, but I suspect they will be the exception rather than the rule.

    (Response: Interesting point. But throughout my career I always saw a distinction between “News” reporters and “anchors” … who should be real journalists ..and MOST sports reporters, who are often shills for the local teams, regularly sucking at the teat of free food, free beer, free gear as they “work” and seemingly almost worshipping most of the people they cover. Now all those working broadcasters etc who take part in this Olympic “EVENT” will be corrupted, in my view. And even IF something in particular is great and they honestly praise it, will anyone really believe it isn’t just “bought and paid” for hype? I doubt it. h.o.)

  • 4 sue // Oct 26, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Bizarre situation for sure. And a poignant expample of our times – the quest for celebrity vs the neutrality of a free press.

    We used to debate whether accepting a plate of rubber chicken at a Canadian Club luncheon was crossing the line. And that was just to cover a speech!

    (Response: Yes, and I told Hurst that!! In my poverty stricken early reporting days in Regina, young reporters used to enjoy covering boring speeches at Lions Club etc ..because we’d get a free lunch. But that soon began to bother me ..so I stopped. For 37 and a half years … I never accepted the lunch at such functions, unless it was an all day convention or on the campaign trail where my employer PAID for our meals. I would have a coffee/muffin maybe if offered … don’t want to be totally unsociable … but NO meals. In fact ..when I did a little fun story at the opening of Montreal style Siegel’s Bagels in Vancouver,(Yippeee!!) the owner handed me a full bag of bagels when we finished: I refused them. But on the weekend, I was back at the place, as a customer, with my Buy 6, Get 6 Free Entertainment coupon. The owner couldn’t understand that..but I explained the free coupons were available to anyone: the free bags of bagels were not. And they were delicious..especially the “free” ones. :) h.o)

  • 5 Joe from Victoria // Oct 26, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks for this, Harvey. Of course, it’s pretty obvious why there is no coverage of this issue from BC-based media. They all know perfectly well that if they report on the issue, vanoc will freeze them out of any access to the Olympic Games. They can’t afford that risk, so they defer to vanoc smiley noddy heads.

  • 6 Leah // Oct 26, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Totally agree with you this time Harv!

  • 7 Laila Yuile // Oct 26, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you for bringing this to us Harv- I’m both shocked and appalled. Will the perks never end?

    I too , think that this is inappropriate. Clearly, one cannot report unbiased news when they are part of it.

    Not to mention the access broadcasters and reporters will have to 2010 activities already inherent to their positions, it is sad that, as you pointed out, many average Canadians who applied to participate will not have the ability to do so.

    You might as well add these spots onto the ones given to corporate sponsors like Coca Cola and RBC, as perks for their management and employees.

    Thousands of applicants applied, and some waited an extrordinary amount of time to see if they were chosen through the random lottery system from RBC and Coca-Cola, only to never realise what may be a dream for them – to be a part of a historical journey.

    More and more, these olympics appear to be about the haves and the have-nots, and this is yet another stunning example.

    (Response: Well said Laila. If people are concerned now ..wait till all those “news” people get on set, all pumped up from their wonderful experience, saying howe great it was , how fantastic the crowds were …etc ..etc…. And I wonder ..will they keep their “loot”??? The snappy Olympic duds they will all get as souvenirs?? And then claim to be TOTALLY unbiased. h.o.)

  • 8 Gary L. // Oct 26, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Harvey, any word of Craig Oliver lugging the Torch?

    (Response: Frankly, I don’k think Craig would do it. And he’s not on the list I saw. h.o.)

  • 9 DMJ // Oct 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    And I thought the mainstream media could not get any worse!

    Don’t these guy it, the media reports the news, not make the news!

    “We are so cleverly manipulated and influenced by the media and establishments on both the right and left, that the truth has become hopelessly lost in semantics.”

    Jules Carlysle

  • 10 Lynn // Oct 26, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Geez Louise! They just don’t get it do they?
    New Hounds are now called News Whores.
    They will do just about anything to compete against the very story (s) they are reporting.
    Thanks for the article, Harvey!

  • 11 Gary E // Oct 26, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    What I find totally disturbing here Harvey is that at least one Olympian was refused the torch. This is a further disgrace on VANOC. The FIRST people selected over everyone else should be former Olympians.
    One more nail in the 2010 coffin.

    (Response: I think the media runners should give up their spot to Olympians who would like to run but found there was no room at the line. THAT would be a great story. h.o)

  • 12 RossK // Oct 26, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Hmmmmm…..

    Does mean that the infamous Dr. Larkin won’t get a chance to carry the torch and/or pudding can and/or flaming underpants this time around?

    .

  • 13 Mike C // Oct 26, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I used to respect Robert Hurst and even worked with him for some time at CTV Vancouver.
    Now, he’s simply shown that he’s a shill of his employer with no ethics.
    Newspeople, be they anchors or reporters, have no business carrying the torch for these “Limp Dick” ™ games.
    The honour should go to current and former Olympic athletes, true Canadian heroes and ordinary Canadians who signed up to take part.
    I’d like to know if CTV employees actually volunteered for this duty or if it is a “condition of employment?”
    Lots of discussion on this on the various media boards, SOWNY and Radiowest and others.

    (Response: I would disagree that he has no ethics. I feel he certainly does …but we clearly see the torchbearer issue differently. h.o)

  • 14 !i // Oct 26, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    “Ms. Heggtveit and Ms. Wagner both cherish memories of the 1988 Games in Calgary, where they were among a group of Canadian gold medalists who carried the national flag during the opening ceremonies for the event and also received tickets to events.

    So far, however, they’ve received no invitation from the Vancouver Organizing Committee to play a similar role in next year’s Games.”

    http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/media-broadcasters-to-carry-olympic-torch/#comments

    Perhaps some worthy torch bearers could be found amongst the forgotten.

  • 15 !i // Oct 26, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    WO00pz – wrong link – try this — http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/why-ex-olympians-feel-left-out-in-the-cold/article1337863/

  • 16 rod mickleburgh // Oct 26, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    As I recall, BC-TV (as it then was…) was notorious for taking freebies from resorts, travel lodges,etc, and putting long, laudatory features on the air….during the great oberfeld’s time there…..

    the issue is not quite black and white here…should a journalist, say, accept a trip to the space shuttle, even if provided by NASA….i don’t see anything wrong with that, frankly, because the reader wins….the situation is not analagous to the torch relay of course, but all thse issues have pros and cons, and no matter what decisions are made, they are, on both sides, honestly made….

    and i believe in voting….none of us is truly objective, since every person on the planet has some bias or another….the goal in journalism is to be fair

    (Response: For those who don’t know…RM is a fine reporter, working for the Globe and Mail …owned by CTV GlobeMedia. But he does raise an issue dear to my heart. I am not aware of a lot of non-working freebies floating around from travel lodges or resorts at BCTV (I was personally never even offered any … I wonder why!). Maybe those went to on-air hosts/anchors? There were special occasions when, in working on a story, reporters and cameras travelled with those they were reporting about without paying or stayed in provided lodging ..but not on vacations etc , as far as I ever knew. I do recall boxes of apples arrived at the start of the season in the newsroom from apple growers etc …or strawberries in strawberry season for station staff to enjoy. BUT I can tell you PROUDLY NOW that years ago, when a note went around advising those who wanted to ski Balckcomb free who to contact … I was aghast ..and so were many others in the newsroom; others thought it wonderful! After MUCH discussion, News Director Keith Bradbury appointed me and Tim P of the newsroom to draft a policy on “freebies” ..which we did, and which was adopted and severely restricted accepting such offerings (cookies or cake from viewers that could be shared were o.k. ..but little else ..nothing of any real VALUE) and that policy was written out clearly (I still have a copy). However, from what I hear, the policy we drew up and was adopted is no longer even known by many, let alone enforced … which would be a pity. h.o.)

  • 17 Ruaridh // Oct 26, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    I always knew that CTV was carrying a torch for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

    I did not believe that they would take this phrase literally.

    (Response: Very good …quite a chuckle. But if what Hurst says is true…CTV won’t be alone. h.o.)
    -30-

  • 18 Norman Farrell // Oct 26, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Calm down Rod. The Globe generally gets a passing grade from the blogger world.

    Or, are you running the torch too?

  • 19 RossK // Oct 27, 2009 at 2:18 am

    I would be happy to agree with Mr. Mickleburgh IF the media folks were doing it to ‘get the story’.

    However, this does not appear to be the case here.

    (Response: Quite clearly they will be TAKING part as particpants and celebrants .. and that’s why I question their objectivity in “covering” the games. h.o.)

    .

  • 20 RossK // Oct 27, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Harvey – I agree.

    And I’m surprised, because Mr. Mickleburgh rarely (if ever?) offers up false equivalencies to make a ‘point’ in his professional work.

    (Response: Maybe feels somewhat compelled to defend his employer: CTVGlobemedia? h.o.)

    .

  • 21 Henri Paul // Oct 27, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Apparently there has been a misunderstanding by the media. It is not the running of the torches that they are to participate in, but rather with the running of the the bulls, a committee has determined that, as they are useless as tits on bull , they may just as well run with them.

  • 22 Norman Farrell // Oct 27, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Not running of the bulls, it’s running of the bull sh*t.

  • 23 RossK // Oct 27, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Harvey–

    Perhaps.

    If so, I’m saddened by that because I think Mr. M. is one of the last, best of the mainstream proMedia folks working in Lotusland.

    .

  • 24 re: rod's rant // Oct 27, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Auto writers are the ‘worst’ for accepting paid junkets. political reporters reportedly get billed for their expenses from the candidates campaigns and then repay for the value of used services.

    Perhaps a rigorous survey is in order. I wonder if any local J skols are up to it? – !i

    (Response: The J schools depend on media outlets for “practicum” training places to send their students … so not likely to investigate media freebies! h.o.)

  • 25 RS // Oct 28, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Payola? Or would that be Payoly?

  • 26 LDS // Oct 28, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    I’m having trouble deciding whether this is really an issue or not. How is this any different than, say, marching in the Pride parade? Would that make the participant any less objective in their reporting of stories about parade sponsors?

    (Response:For me it’s quite simple: no reporter or anchor or broadcaster covering ANY event should take part in the event … unless its to evaluate it as part of the story (like bungee jumping). But how can someone voluntarly JOINING IN the Olympic relay or any Games event then cover or evaluate impartially those same events. h.o.)

  • 27 LDS // Oct 29, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I understand your point AND your position, Harvey, I just don’t necessarily agree that any form of participation in any event automatically constitutes a compromise of journalistic ethics. There are SOME events in which participation does NOT inherently pollute perception or objectivity, like the parade example I cited. My question was (and is) how does running with the torch influence a reporter’s slant on the event? If anything, it seems like it would give the reporter a BETTER perspective, much like the your bungee jumping example.

    (Response: A reporter, or broadcaster, running in the torch relay doesn’t just show up and run: he or she goes through a thorough briefing, receives instructions, is told what to do and what not to do, rubs shoulders behind the scenes with Olympic brass, becomes part of the “team” in effect, gets a uniform, gets surrounded by security, is treated like a VIP, escorted to the starting point of his/her run, then gets all excited as he/she sees the crowds along the street, the hype, and for a while BECOMES the center of attention and will probably then also be invited to post-run receptions and parties, where the publicly paid food and booze will flow. And you don’t think will impress or give that broadcaster a bias in then covering the rest of the relay or the Games or protests condemning them etc ???? I do! h.o.)

  • 28 R.J. S. // Oct 31, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Mr. Oberfeld:

    As a long-time broadcast journalist who is also a professional sports coach (and an asst. coach for the Canadian national team for my sport), the issue of journalistic integrity and objectivity doesn’t necessarily begin or end with the CTV torch-runner’s saga…

    We all know for a fact that VANOC won’t be the first organization who attempted to seduce the media, or climbed into bed with the media…(in this case, the anchors at CTV).

    Meanwhile, your report doesn’t say whether Lloyd Robertson, the lead anchor at CTV, will be among the torchrunners ? Don’t give me this bull that Robertson is “too old” to run the torch because cardio fitness is a healthy activity that anyone can do, even into one’s old age…

    However, since the CTV network is broadcasting the games (and THEREFORE, Global and CBC DIDN’T get the games)…does it really matter what Peter Mansbridge thinks…

    Seriously, I don’t see anything wrong with a couple of out of shape news anchors doing a once in a lifetime jog with a torch they will never never hold again with their own hands…

    You know, the broadcast news business is notorious for having a largely overweight, stressed-out, “out of shape” workforce…who lead a largely unhealthy lifestyle fuelled by cigarettes and booze.

    Some news people have literally died on the job over the years, due to heart attacks and strokes…such as NBC’s Tim Russert and a few years back… Lloyd McGuigan (aka Andy Steel) from QM-FM News…

    I’m sure being a large man, you have had your cardio warnings, yourself…

    In 2007, Health Canada released a damning report about the fact that many of our young Canadian kids, aged 10 to 18, are spending too much of their damn childhood watching screens (tv screens, video games, internet screens, etc)

    It is forecasted that many of these children are going to have significant joint-related issues when they get older, such as osteoarthritis, back problems, bad knees, etc. (and many of them may live shorter lives, because of it ?)

    So, if a few tv newscasters are seen jogging with a torch, who knows, maybe it might persuade other unfit Canadians to get off their *ss, shut the computer or tv off, and frankly, do the same ?

    (Response: Robertson was not listed in the CTV announcement … but you never know. Apparently there are more to come, as yet unannounced. And CTV is not alone, as I stated in the blog …a “reporter” on CKNW radio today was absolutely gushing about her scheduled torch carry. Napoleon observed people would happily give up their lives …not for money… but little ribbons. These days some “reporters” will give up their integrity, independence and impartiality for a 300-metre walk/run… and a souvenir jacket to keep.
    As for over the hill out of shape anchors etc carrying the torch..you mised my point: ANY working reporter, anchor (they are supposed to be reporters too) or on air host covering the Olympics has NO BUSINESS taking part in anything related to it. Other media staff ok..like sales reps, accountants, office or tech staff ok..but NOT those who will be covering it in any way. h..o)

  • 29 CT // Oct 31, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    RJS

    Not only did Lloyd in fact participate in the torch run yesterday, he gushed about it on CTV news last night. The last 5 minutes of the broadcast focused on his torch segment along with Sandie day dreaming about her upcoming run.

    An interesting aside is the Lloyd displayed the torch that he had carried with him during the run. The torches sell for $350 if the runner wishes to keep it. Any bets whether or not Lloyd paid?

    (Response: There you go …thanks for the info. It confirms my concerns about “broadcasters” participating … and I worry that he (and others who accept the offer) will now be “on side” for the rest of the event, regardless of reality. h.o.)

  • 30 Richard // Oct 31, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    How can anyone honestly put Canwest and journalist in the same sentence?

    (Response: There are some very good journalists at Canwest … newspapers and tv across the country, but they are constrained by budget strangleholds (do more with almost nothing) and in many places, bland, unimaginative managers who prefer easy fast stories… police incidents, fires, puff pieces and press conferences rather than hard hitting political stories or time consuming investigative peices. h.o)

  • 31 Joe R // Nov 1, 2009 at 2:47 am

    Well that’s just super.

  • 32 Peter C // Nov 3, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Dear Mr. O :
    Heard you on CFUN this morning with Simi. I am now fully conversant with your blog. Good job, I hope you are making money with it. Love the media page, and the discussion of the CTV Torch Relay. I cringe every time I see Ben Mulrony I cringe and think to myself, with all his father’s wealth, political and business connections, not to mention Ben’s own academic background in History and Law, a spot on the CTV’s gossip show is the best job his daddy could buy him.
    Keep up the great work.

    (Response: Actually I make NOTHING from it; no ads, no subscriptions, nothing. Just my way of giving back a bit ..and having a lot of fun speaking up in retirement in a personal opinionated way I could not while working. h.o.)

  • 33 Peter C // Nov 3, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Well consider me an avid and regular reader after today.

    (Response: :) And your input (agree or disagree) would be great too. h.o.)

  • 34 Maurice Cardinal // Feb 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    I understand your concern Harvey, of journalists carrying the Olympic torch, but it is a little late, and with all due respect, a tempest in a teapot.

    I am pro-Olympics with a twist, which means I love the sport but hate the politics.

    It is a new era, and most people today do not object to a reporter running with the torch as long as the reporter does it openly.

    I’ve written about this incestuous subject many times in my blog and book, and on countless other websites, and in fact have borrowed segments in this post to you from other online publications where I addressed the topic of news media conflict of interest. At this late date it is disingenuous of anyone with a journalism background to start complaining now about the relationship news media has with the Olympics.

    I have no problem with CTV being the official 2010 Olympic broadcaster or with any of their reporters running with the torch. Each time I see a CTV story about the Olympics I accept that their perspective is skewed and I give it less weight and give them less credibility. No big deal. It is their choice to generate revenue through their Olympic affiliation at the expense of journalistic integrity, and like NBC they are doing it up front and in the open. We all understand how commerce works.

    Bias is not a crime or even unethical unless you hide it

    Running with the torch is a minor blip when you consider it is legal for a newspaper to partner with its advertiser (the IOC).

    Again, it is legal, but by no stretch of the imagination is it ethical and especially when it is not completely obvious.

    For pro journalists to complain about Olympic journalism ethics at this late is a letter perfect example of what Chomsky describes as “necessary illusion.” Where were the objections from journalists in 2004 when the community needed to hear both sides of the 2010 Olympic story? Where were the objections when they could have actually done something about it to prevent Olympic media bias before it occurred? If you do a little Google research you will discover I was the only one singing this song, and guess what, I’m not even in the news business. I did it out of necessity because real journalists looked the other way while their colleagues sold out our community.

    Between 2003 and 2007 The Vancouver Sun newspaper published many articles directly and indirectly boosting the Olympics (I know because we clipped them all), and in effect surreptitiously manufactured consent. They did not make it clear to their readers during a very critical period that they were well paid by the IOC to tell the Olympic side of the Olympics story. Only after intense pressure from me through my blog (and over a year after becoming an official supplier) did the Vancouver Sun put the 5 Ring logo on their front page identifying the newspaper as an official paid Olympic partner/supplier. How is it possible pro journalists didn’t object to this, but today the journalists running with the torch is an issue?

    Jeff Lee, the official Olympic reporter for the Vancouver Sun argues that The Sun’s affiliation with the Olympics is no different than a news company’s affiliation with the NHL. His argument is self-serving and preposterous when you consider taxpayers pick up the slack for the Olympics. Taxpayers on the other hand do not support the NHL. In fact it is the other way around when you take into consideration all the taxes paid by the NHL franchise to the city.

    Lee argues it is a matter of perception, while I argue it is a matter of law. When stock promoters misrepresent the value of stocks the law comes down on them like a ton of bricks and they receive not only a hefty fine, but also jail time. I see little difference when an Olympic partner misrepresents the value of their product respective of the Olympics. John Furlong, CEO VANOC, in the early years told Canadians he wanted us to invest in and take ownership of the Olympics, and the Sun dutifully reported his words without question. What wasn’t reported was that investors have rights and when the 2010 invoice arrives I’m going to expect VANOC and its partnering news media companies to be accountable for the biased and fanciful stories they published about the benefits of the Olympics to my Host community.

    Perception, like possession, is nine tenths of the law. I was forced to buy shares, now I want the dividends.

    The old Olympic business model is broken, and the IOC does not want it fixed because it would mean unscrupulous Olympic sponsors that sell fast food and sugar water would no longer have access to children in schools, and that is exactly where you grow your future base of loyalty. Impressionable children become devoted adults. The current model works for the IOC and sponsors, but it no longer works for Host communities. The last four Olympic Host regions have suffered incredible deficits and now Vancouver and London are about to get slammed too. The companies that manufactured consent and got us into this mess, of which local news media played a major role, should pay to get us out.

    BTW, when Lee ran a piece on his Sun blog about Bob Mackin running with the torch I posted a comment that included this link to The Tyee questioning his writing of an Olympic article for IOC. He censored my post by removing the link, so here it is . . .
    http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2009/05/22/SunOlympicsReporter/

    Way back in 2006 I called for an official inquiry into news media’s incestuous relationship with the IOC, but was ignored by our government as well as news media. You can read more about it here – http://www.olyblog.com/f/06/ShawLeeF09282006.shtml#INQUIRY

    Editor: http://www.olyblog.com/main.shtml
    Author: http://www.LeverageOlympicMomentum.com

    (Response: Your well thought out and detailed analysis makes me very happy I offer this blog to discuss issues like these. I like Jeff Lee, find him to be a very good reporter, and realize your preceptions/critique are your own. But if would like to respond, he certainly can have the space here to do so. Where I do disagree with you is on reporters etc carrying the news… for me, it is very simple ,, if you are a NEWS MAN or WOMAN, reporter or anchor, you DO NOT participate in any events you cover. Not if you want to retain your crediblity and integrity. But apparently these days ..too many are prepared to throw that away ..for self aggrandisement and a small thrill. I pity those who do that. h.o)