This year will definitely be the year of Olympic Games, at least its sports part. Whole world prepares their top athletes, others just can’t wait the opening. And as always, when it comes to worldwide famous events, there is a significant part of people who work on preparing the event itself. Besides numerous volunteers Olympics 2012 will have citizen journalists as reporters, and best project which connects all interested citizens is #media2012.
Thanks to the Chair of #media2012, Professor Andy Miah, we can share more details related to #media2012 and invite everyone interested to join this citizen journalism community and cover one really amazing project in the heart of London.
This is our interview with Professor Andy Miah, Chair of #media2012 :
Q: What is #media2012 ?
A: #media2012 is a citizen news wire for the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games, promoting interactions between citizen and professional journalism.
Q: How it works, who are the organizators ?
A: It is really a crowd sourced project, but was born out of a collaboration between artists, curators and academics in Scotland, the North West and South West of England. Today, we have 6 regions within the UK that are working for #media2012 and in each we have leadership within at least one university or college and one cultural or arts organization. The regional leaders are driving their agenda within their locale and coordination resides with a core team of people who are also around the UK.
Q: When was idea of using citizen journalists for reporting such huge sports event born ?
A: My research into the rise of citizen journalists at the Olympic Games goes back to Sydney 2000 when I gained accreditation to one of their Olympic media centres by presenting myself as a reporter. At the time, I had very little experience, but I had a good website and, back then, this was still an impressive thing, as not many people had their own. My experience in Sydney led to a research programme to track how media change was occurring at the Olympic Games and I”ve been to each one – Summer and Winter – since to follow what’s been happening. When London won the Games, this created some obligation to try to do something here in the UK, but a real turning point for us was Vancouver 2010, as we helped produce two citizen-led media centres.
Q: Olympics is important worldwide event, but many think that citizen journalists are not trustworthy. Do you think that this project can help citizen journalists in earning trust ?
A: I think today many people consider professional journalists not trustworthy and this may be a bigger problem, particularlly in the context of the Olympics, as the media are paying for the privilege to cover the Games. This seems like a conflict of interest to me. I’d rather rely on someone who has no such ties. Still, I accept that there is a big question over how citizen journalists operate. There is no ethical code to underpin their work. We have tried to help here by creating the #media2012 Charter, which proposes some fundamental ethical principles for citizen
journalists to follow. We understand that it is not simple, since ethical views differ from one country to the next, but we want to start a dialogue about it. If we can accredit some foreign citizen reporters, this will be a great way to advance the conversation about whether we can derive a universal code of ethics for citizen journalists.
Q: Do you expect only local community citizen journalists from UK or also global citizen journalists ?
A: I expect we will have a mixture. We have some people to whom we are close internationally and we expect them to join in the Games time plan for #media2012, but like all citizen journalism, it starts locally and we especially want to create media centres in different regions of the UK during the Games.
Q: Covering Olympic and Paralympic Games is huge honor and privilege, once only reserved for traditional media. Does this even more separates traditional and citizen media? Or makes possible future partnership ?
A: I am not sure it is an honour, but it’s definitely a privilege. Acting as a journalist at all is a privilege, but it should be a right that is shared by all. I think what we are doing with #media2012 raises questions about how media coverage around the Games should be organized – less corporations and more citizens.
Q: Today technology together with social media offers unimagined possibilities. Do you hope to achieve a more detailed coverage, thanks to engagement of citizens ?
A: We do. Presently, the accredited media focus mainly on the sports, but sport is only one dimension of the Olympic Games time period. We want to cover everything else that happens, from peace marches to protests and from the national cultural olympiad to local street festivals.
Q: Your expectations of both – project and Olympics coverage.
A: I think all of the surprises that wlll arise from the accredited media coverage will have happened at previous Games, whereas what #media2012 covers will create a conversation about how the media relates to society at large, particularly within the most controlled media event in history.
In anticipation of the Olympics, we want success to #media2012 and many good events for the coverage !