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March 23 2010

18:55

SochiReporter Drives Traffic with 2010 Olympics Coverage

At SochiReporter, we looked at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics (and Paralympics) as an important event that can move our site forward and attract more international users. I'm happy to say that our efforts have paid off with increased traffic and interest in the site.

During the Games, SochiReporter experienced a 350 percent increase in the number of European and North American visitors to the site. We also published several exclusive posts from Yuliya Talmazan, a Russian-speaker from Vancouver who works as an editor at NowPublic.

During the Olympics, Talmazan worked for NBC doing editorial research, and she also attended athletic events and other festivities during the Paralympic Games. I asked her to provide us with coverage of the Paralympics because they receive much less attention from global media. Having her on the ground during the Paralympics has given us some very unique content in all multimedia genres.

Also, beginning in February, SochiReporter changed its design to celebrate the Vancouver Games. The site's new background image is focused on winter sports and mixes blue, violet and magenta. The images feature athletes and reporters together, and we think the softer background colors do a better job of letting users focus on the site's content.

Olympics_eng_.JPG

Changing the design is part of our marketing activities, and we plan to keep on introducing new background images in the future. My feeling is that it's another way to tell a story and make the website more topical and relevant. For example, Google often alters its logo to celebrate holidays, and the iGoogle service allows people to customize their header. Twitter also allows users to choose from a wide range of skins, or to create their own.

New Tagline

Aside from the new background image, we introduced a new tagline for SochiReporter: "The news is me." It was inspired by the well-known saying, "The law is me," which was made by France's Louis XIV, the Sun King, in the 17th century. The tagline reflects the new realities and conveys the idea of citizen journalism, which is at the core of SochiReporter.

On a related note, the Vancouver Games were notable for the presence of citizen media and social media. There themes were explored in recent articles and photo essays on MediaShift.

Thanks to our work on the Vancouver Games, I've been receiving emails from people in Europe and Northern America. They tend to be either students inquiring about an internship within SochiReporter, people writing a thesis about social media who are interested in getting to know more about SochiReporter, or folks working in new media who are interested in how social media is being integrated into the traditional media content structure. In the end, our work during the Vancouver Games has helped build the global dialogue around SochiReporter and social media in general.

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February 26 2010

20:36

IOC Loosens Citizen Photog Restrictions, Launches Flickr Group

At the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, social media was in its infancy. But in Vancouver, it sometimes seems to overshadow the accredited media.

As expected, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics are the first Games to truly be impacted by social media. As a result, one question leading up to the Games was whether the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would continue to exercise its restrictive policies regarding media coverage and copyright. Would these policies change when bloggers, amateur photographers and other members of the citizen media brigade made their voices heard in Vancouver? Or would the IOC clamp down and seek to silence the voice of the crowd?

ioc-flickr-7211

It seems the IOC is ready for a bit of change: It recently announced a Flickr Fan group. Slowly, the Olympics are changing to meet the new media world.

This is the second photo essay by Vancouver photographer Kris Krüg (view the first one here; read our Olympics coverage here). This time, he examines how social media is changing the Olympic Games.

Womens Hockey - Canada vs Slovakia - Canada Place - Vancouver
Winter Olympics

Only accredited photographers are allowed to shoot from the media sections inside the Olympic venues. Here, you see an accredited sports photographer, who has to abide by the IOC rules, with a Flickr sticker on his lens. It's great to see old school mixing with new school.

Go to Photo 2 ->

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February 25 2010

11:24

A social media documentary coming this spring

A new Canadian documentary film, due out this spring, uses social media to tell an alternative story about Vancouver’s Winter Olympics. It follows four individuals who “rallied” their community through social networking tools, to help empower the homeless and poor – who don’t necessarily fit into grand Olympic plans. The idea was to use mobile and online media to “provide a voice for those left behind”. (Hat-tip: Jon Slattery)

It draws on video blogging, photo-sharing and social networking to bring a “marginalised” community to the fore, “embracing leading-edge communication technologies, to empower, inspire, and break down the digital divide,” its producers say. The synopsis:

February 12, 2010.  Sixty thousand people have gathered in Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium to revel in the spectacle that is the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games. It marks the beginning of a two week party that will focus a global spotlight on this city of half a million and, organizers hope, finally put to rest seven years of  surrounding controversy.   A few days earlier, a year long campaign which saw police issue hundred dollar jaywalking and spitting tickets to homeless people, had culminated in a successful sweep of the city’s impoverished Downtown Eastside to relocate undesirables to outlying communities.

When the story finally makes it to the mainstream news channels, it’s thanks to the diligence and combined power of a few concerned citizens, their video-streaming cellphones and the Internet.  With Glowing Hearts will give audiences the chance to see the world through the eyes of four such citizens,  as they rally their community around powerful new Social Media tools to show its true heart to the world. Based on the premise that the access to information is a human right, the film and accompanying website, will take audiences on a year long journey into the creation of an independent Olympic media center designed to guarantee that access  in a community whose voice is frequently ignored.

Here’s the site.

Here’s the trailer:

With Glowing Hearts from Andrew Lavigne on Vimeo.

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February 23 2010

15:02

Why Olympic hockey showdown drew record TV viewers


In a telephone call on Monday evening, a reporter for The Globe and Mail asked me if I was surprised that Sunday’s Canada-U.S. hockey game had become most-watched sports program in Canadian history.

According to Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, an average audience of 10.6 million viewers watched the Olympic showdown, beating the 2002 Salt Lake City Canada-U.S. gold-medal game’s 10.3 million viewers.

The figures are not surprising, despite the fact we live, as the Globe and Mail put it, “in the age of fragmented viewing and new media.”

There are several reasons for the huge viewing figures.  The Winter Olympics, taking place in Vancouver, have gripped Canada as its athletes win medal after medal.

And hockey is the country’s national sport, and a source of great pride. No doubt, Canadians were hoping that the replay of the 2002 match would result in a win, rather than a second defeat.

But the draw of the game, and the Olympics in general, also reflects the continuing appeal of television. As a mass medium, its strengths now lie in live broadcasting and in appointment viewing.

The Canada-U.S. hockey game fits both these criteria.  And while you could watch a stream online, this is the sort of event that you’d want to see on a big HDTV screen.

Rather than cannabilising TV, some reports suggest (PDF) that the Internet is emerging as a parallel medium. In other words, audiences are online and watching TV at the same time.

February 22 2010

22:40

True North Media House, W2 Provide Citizen Media Hub at Olympics

At the Winter Olympics, members of the press affiliated with official, IOC-designated media outlets have access to the Main Media Center and are given a special accreditation badge. The MMC provides workspace -- as well as massages and McDonald's -- for "the approximately 2,800 accredited members of the written and photographic press," according to organizers.

That's been the case at many Olympics. But the Vancouver Games are notable for the alternative, unofficial media centers and accreditations that have sprung up. These groups cater specifically to independent media, citizen journalists, bloggers, and other people who seek to report and document the Games on their terms. (The Beijing Games failed to inspire a similar outpouring of citizen journalism due to restrictions placed by the Chinese organizers.)

Well over 100 unofficial media folks are united under the True North Media House, a virtual media accreditation organization that's aggregating content from bloggers and citizen journalists at the Games. The TNMH initiative also helps them coordinate and communicate with each other via a mailing list and #tnmh Twitter hashtag, while also serving as a point of aggregation for reporting and content.

4349982025_99689bc63b_m.jpg

If TNMH is the virtual alternative media house of the games, then the W2 Culture + Media House is the physical headquarters. Located in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a neighborhood known as the poorest in Canada, it provides independent media with a free lounge and range of unofficial press conferences, as well as affordably priced access to video editing suites, camera gear, and workspaces.

People affiliated with NowPublic, CNN iReport and other media are paying roughly $300 to secure a spot at W2 for the duration of the Games. To put it into perspective, that's roughly what Games organizers charge for two weeks of wireless Internet access at the Main Press Centre.

W2 Culture + Media House

I visited W2 the day of the opening ceremonies and Irwin Oostindie, executive director of the W2: Community Media Arts center, told me how the Games activities fit into their usual operations, which involve helping teach media skills and techniques and offering a space for cultural events. He also explained the significance of having an alternative media center in the Downtown Eastside:

Oostindie predicted this will be the last time we see a facility like W2's at the Olympic Games.

"We thought, 'The Olympics are coming here, so let's get together and create an experiment around running a physical social media center,'" he said. "It's probably the first and last one the Olympics will have because, essentially, Beijing didn't allow them and [I predict that] London in 2012 will embed them and monetize them. There won't be any independent social media centers in London."

He said the idea is not to keep traditional media and independent media separate, as they have a lot learn from each other.

"We're interested in bringing traditional media and online media platforms together," he said. "We feel that social media can be improved by traditional journalism, and we really feel traditional journalism could be improved with more access to online and multi-platform practices. There is a conversation to be had which does not alienate one community or another."

In addition to providing workspaces for media from Canada, the U.S. and England, W2 is hosting press conferences from community groups and people such as the female ski jumpers who were not allowed to compete in the Games.

"We're hosting a cluster of voices that are rather relevant to the content of the Olympics being held in Vancouver," he said. "Playing the role of a neutral infrastructure provider is kind of interesting for us. We're kind of a mixing point. It's a space where the Olympic Resistance Network can come and [so can] corporate sponsors and Olympic athletes."

As can people like Percy Lipinski. A former diplomat, the Vancouver resident is a dedicated and prolific contributor to CNN iReport. He paid to have a workspace at W2 for the Games, though he isn't reporting the entire time. Last week I reached him in Costa Rica, where he was shooting stories that he planned to submit to iReport.

4354801798_e35dc297c9_m.jpg

"I read about W2 in one of the local magazines in Vancouver and it appealed to me because I had applied for and received credentials [for the B.C. International Media Centre (BCIMC), which is operated by the provincial government] through iReport -- and then a week before the Olympics started they said, 'We decided you're not really a reporter' and denied my accreditation," he said.

The BCIMC is a center where media without IOC accreditation can work from. The people controlling its accreditation process eventually relented and gave Lipinski his pass back. But he had already decided that W2 would be the place for him.

"For [$300] I got access to youngish, good news editors and camera people and the ability to work at the desk," he said.

True North Media House

Last Wednesday, an email went out on the True North Media House email list to let people know the group would be holding an "Olympic Hockey Tweetup" the following day between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. at a local club. "There will be an appearance by special guest Guy Kawasaki at about 8 p.m.," the message said.

Apart from a few organized events like that one, the people sporting TNMH badges have largely roamed Vancouver on their own, or in small groups. They go where they choose (and where security lets them) and report, photograph and tweet what they see. As a result, the TNMH news feed is an eclectic mix of content. It's also spreading far and wide, according to Dave Olson, one of the organizers.

"What we're starting to see now is people are getting their coverage up and out and distributed well before the mainstream media," he said.

Olson, whose day job is the marketing/community director for Twitter client HootSuite, hatched the idea for TNMH with Robert Scales, who runs Raincity Sudios and VancouverAccess2010.com, and local photographer Kris Krüg, who is contributing photo essays to MediaShift during the Games. (Krüg is also involved with W2.) You can watch the documentary With Glowing Hearts to see the history of TNMH, as well as the W2 project. Here's an excerpt of the film's look at TNMH:

WGHthemovie.ca- Webisode #2 'True North Media House' from Andrew Lavigne.

Now that the games are up and running, Olson said it's a matter of letting the TNMH-accredited reporters go about their business, produce content, and see what happens. One surprise so far has been Aleks, a 5-year-old Vancouver boy who's blogging about his Games experience with the help of his dad. He proudly wears his TNMH badge wherever he goes.

4371693548_9c7ddf3791_m.jpg

"We have people who four or five days ago didn't self-identify as social media reporters, but they had a passion for photography or making videos," Olson said. "Once the Games were on, they realized they see stuff no one else sees. A lot of people are just stepping up and saying they want to be a part of this."

The reports in the TNMH news feed and discussion on #TNMH bring to mind the old saying that youth is wasted on the young. It's hard to imagine professional media are bounding around with as much joy, delight and enthusiasm. Certainly, not having an assignment editor or producer harrassing you on deadline helps keep the TNMH crew happy. But you can't help noticing how much fun they seem to having.

Business Analyst Gets Accredited

John Biehler is an e-business analyst for an insurance company in Vancouver, but he's also a self-described camera geek. He loves taking pictures and shooting video, and he shares his work on a blog and on Flickr.

Biehler booked off three weeks of vacation so he would be able to document the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, and now spends his days and nights reporting on everything from the torch relay to tall ships and zip line rides. His videos and photos are available in a special Olympic section of his blog, but they're also showing up in the news feed of True North Media House.

Biehler proudly wears his TNMH media accreditation badge around his neck, and is often stopped by people who ask what it means, and where he got it.

"Some of the [people wearing the badge] have been able to get past security and get into venues because security think it's official," he said. "They don't know we printed them out on a home printer and went to Staples and got them laminated."

Documentation or Journalism?

Biehler is enjoying a unique experience because he has both a TNMH pass and an official one from the BCIMC. He is among the lucky few bloggers and folks from online media outlets granted access to the province's media center. For the most part, he said, the professional media folks have been welcoming.

"They seem to work more hours," he said of the pros, "and it's been interesting talking with them about what I'm doing and what I'm working on, and comparing gear. Even if they're working for a big company we're similar in that we're just trying to figure out the best way to do something."

Olson said TNMH is more about documentation than journalism.

"But we've taken great pains to educate people about journalistic standards and how to tell a mixed media story," he said. (The resources section on the website offers a wealth of useful information.)
The night we spoke, Olson was rushing off to meet a group of hockey fans from Latvia, an experience he looked forward to documenting.

"How often do you get a chance to meet someone who has come halfway around the world to your city to enjoy something that you're also passionate about?"

To which he could have added: and then share that experience with world.

Craig Silverman is an award-winning journalist and author, and the managing editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He is founder and editor of Regret the Error, the author of Regret the Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech, and a weekly columnist for Columbia Journalism Review. Follow him on Twitter at @CraigSilverman.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

February 20 2010

00:41

4 Minute Roundup: Olympics Tape-Delay Backlash; PleaseRobMe's Geo-Scare

This episode of 4MR is brought to you by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

Here's the latest 4MR audio report from MediaShift. In this week's edition, I look at the backlash against NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, with people on the West Coast angry at the network for tape-delaying the best events until prime time. Plus, a new service called PleaseRobMe.com points out the vulnerability of people who use check-in geo-location services such as Foursquare along with Twitter. And I ask Just One Question to NewTeeVee's Liz Gannes.

Check it out:

4mrbareaudio21910.mp3

>>> Subscribe to 4MR <<<

>>> Subscribe to 4MR via iTunes <<<

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network.

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

What Olympic tape-delay controversy? NBC still doesn't get it at Seattle Times

Olympic Tape Delays Roil Fans, But It's Good for NBC's Business at Wired Epicenter

Query for NBC Olympics on Twitter Sentiment

Where to Watch the 2010 Winter Olympics Online at NewTeeVee

Yahoo Olympics Site Surpasses NBCOlympics.com in Traffic at NewTeeVee

Please Rob Me website causes fury for telling burglars when Twitter users are not home at the Telegraph

Foursquare Responds To Please Rob Me: Please Shut Up at TechCrunch

I'm Here, New York, Please Rob Me at NY Times City Room blog

Please Rob Me Is Not A (Successful) Lawsuit Waiting To Happen at Business Insider

Here's a graphical view of the most recent MediaShift survey results. The question was: "What do you think of Google Buzz?"

google buzz survey.jpg

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about what you think about NBC's Olympic tape delay:


What do you think about NBC's tape delay of the Olympics?(answers)

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

This episode of 4MR is brought to you by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

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February 18 2010

23:40

Best Online Resources for Following 2010 Winter Olympics

Spoiler alert! Thanks to NBC's use of time delay in broadcasting the Olympics to the Western U.S., those who live their lives online during the day are bound to find out what happened long before it airs in prime-time. Anyone who doesn't want to know the results prior to airtime is going to have to avoid just about every website they frequent, from Twitter to Facebook to newspaper sites, and even their email in-box (those CNN email alerts aren't so helpful when filled with spoilers).

The broadcast delay -- as well as the authentication requirement to view live video online -- has people seething in towns as close as Seattle is to Vancouver. In fact, sports blog Deadspin has been collecting various reader complaints about NBC's tape delay, dubbing it the "Tape-Delaympics." And one reader, Kat, wrote in to note how much better Canadian TV coverage was:

I was just talking about it last night with a friend of mine. Both of us are Canadian and have been totally impressed with the coverage here. They've got it live on at least 3 channels at all times to catch everything, plus 2 channels in french with their own coverage, and the main CTV channel doing live coverage as well as interviews and regular news breaks.

Beyond the broadcast brouhaha, Olympic coverage is not just for credentialed journalists anymore. Alternative and citizen journalists armed with digital cameras, or even just cell phone cameras, are capturing what's happening in front of them -- even if the IOC would prefer they didn't.

So if you don't mind the spoilers, here's a cheat sheet to help you find relevant Olympics coverage online, whether it's on special websites, photo sites, video-sharing or Twitter lists. Thanks to mash-ups and curated aggregation, there are not only more forms of multimedia coverage of the Olympics, but also more innovative ways to see what's happening and who's talking about what -- including the Olympic athletes themselves.

Special sites and pages

CBC's Vancouver Now

ESPN Winter Olympics page

Huffington Post's Winter Olympics 2010 page

NBCOlympics.com

Official Schedule and Results

Olympic.org IOC site

NY Times Olympic Tracker with personalized schedule

NY Times Olympics section

SB Nation Olympics page (via @Bankoff, among others)

Sports Illustrated's Olympics section

Thoora's Olympics page

Vancouver 2010 official site

Vancouver Sun's Olympics page

Yahoo Sports coverage

Twitter lists and searches

AP Olympic Athletes list

AP Olympic Staff list

BBC presenters, journalists and experts

Bloggers, journalists, locals and True North Media House list from @northgeek

Huffington Post's Winter Olympics LIVE lists (via Craig Kanalley)

kk's Vancouver 2010 Olympics list

NBC Olympics Tweet Tracker

NY Times' athletes and reporters list

NY Times' Winter Olympics media list

Twitter verified Olympians

Winter Olympics Athletes on Twitter on Twitter-Athletes.com

Twitter feeds

2010Tweets from VANOC

AP_WinterGames

Apolo Anton Ohno

CTVOlympics

Jeff Lee of Vancouver Sun

Juliet Macur of the NY Times

Kardboard

Miss604

NBCOlympics

Randy Starkman of Toronto Star

Robert Scales

Shani Davis

Swiss Olympic Team

Facebook pages

Olympic Games page

Olympic mini-games app

Lindsey Vonn fan page

NY Times Olympics Coverage on Facebook

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

Photos

CTVOlympics.ca photo stream on Flickr

Kris Krug's Winter Olympics photo sets on Flickr

Robert Scales' Vancouver 2010 Olympics set on Flickr

Map of Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Pool on Flickr

Here's a Flickr photo gallery from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics pool

Roy Tanck's Flickr Widget requires Flash Player 9 or better.

Get this widget at roytanck.com

Video

BBC Olympic video

CBC Olympic video

CTVOlympics.ca World feed schedule

VANOC official highlights page on YouTube

NBCOlympics Video page includes highlights and some live streams (if authenticated with your pay-TV provider)

Watch Live Olympic Coverage Online -- go down to pull-down menu at bottom of page and choose your country

Yahoo Sports video mostly from wire services such as AP

Mobile apps and sites

Cowbell2010, so your phone can ring like a cowbell

Foursquare app with NY Times

NBCOlympics mobile app (via @tsutrav)

Official Mobile Spectator Guide from Bell, an iPhone app (via @tsutrav)

Vancouver Sun mobile site

Vancouver 2010

Blog posts and articles

American Networks Serve Advertisers First and Viewers Last at Huffington Post

The gold medals for best mobile Olympics sites go to... at Poynter.org

5 Android Apps for the 2010 Winter Olympics experience at Androinica

Foursquare Partners with Zagat, New York Times at ReadWriteWeb

Get Ready for Some Olympic-Sized Authentication Frustration at NewTeeVee

NBC's tape-delay coverage of Olympics frustrating for sports fans

NBCOlympics delivers 8.1 million video streams in first four days at NBC Universal press release

Olympic madness at Seattle Times

Sharing the Olympic Magic with Fans at the Facebook blog

Vancouver 2010 - Olympics, Twitter Tracker For Top Countries at NowPublic

Watching the 2010 Winter Olympics Online Around the World at NewTeeVee

What Olympic tape-delay controversy? NBC still doesn't get it at Seattle Times

Where to Watch the 2010 Winter Olympics Online at NewTeeVee

What online resources do you use to keep up with the Winter Games? Share your favorites in the comments below and we'll update this list with any ommissions.

For more Olympic coverage at MediaShift, check out these posts:

Citizen, Alternative Media Converge at Olympic Games in Vancouver by Kris Krug

Inside the Social Media Strategy of the Winter Olympic Games by Craig Silverman

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

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