It's time to ramble on…

The thoughts of a young journalist in southeastern Michigan

Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver Winter Olympics

Tweeting gold, silver and bronze: My unique experience with Twitter the last two weeks

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As noted in an earlier post, I am in love with the Winter Olympiad.

I’ve loved the Winter Games since they were held in Nagano, Japan in 1998 when I was 10. I remember watching the flag from the World Trade Centers be carried in during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. And I still own the official U.S. men’s cap from the 2006 Torino Games.  I don’t know why, but I think it has to do with the world coming together and competing in events no one had even heard of until the Games come. It is great to watch some of the world’s best athletes come together to compete in sports people don’t care about most of the time. Whether it be Apolo Anton Ohno setting a U.S. record for Winter Olympic medals, or hockey goalie Ryan Miller winning MVP for his performance during the Olympic tournament, I take it all in and love every second of it.

During the Winter Games in Vancouver the last two weeks, I made an interesting and bias decision I hadn’t made in a long time when it comes to social media: I turned my Twitter account into an everything-Winter Olympics 2010 account.

This was a move I did not take lightly, as I’ve been taught to keep a keen eye on my social networking sites because potential employers can look at them and determine what they wish from them. Whether or not they see things the way I do is up to them. But none the less, I decided that for two weeks, I would tweet nothing but Olympics updates, links, scores, and general encouragement for the Games to help promote them and get people interested and updated on them (except for the rare shameless plug to a story or video I produced at CM Life). And I don’t think I ever tweeted anything horribly inappropriate, I just turned my account into an information page for people to know what’s going in Vancouver.

The transition was quite strange. Almost immediately, I found myself with some new followers, ones that saw my frequent use of the #Vancouver2010 hashtag (a way to sort out tweets, to those of you that do not use the site). I found my tweets being retweeted on some accounts, including those strictly created for these Games. It was strange suddenly becoming a part of a movement I had long told myself I would not join: the bias, non-neutral movement.

It was amazing to see how a similar interest linked myself with people from around the globe, particularly Canadians. It was even interesting to see how people I knew reacted to the sudden change and volume of tweets sent out from me. In the two weeks during the Games, I must have tweeted at least 200 times using the “#Vancouver2010” hashtag. To some on my follower list, I may have been a bit annoying, but some replied at me and sparked a discussion that may have not happened had my followers not known about my undertaking with my account.

Moving from a non-biased journalist account to a more supporting view of the Olympic Winter Games was an experience that I hope to continue – if Twitter is still a site myself and others use – when the Games take place in 2012 in London, England. Although I am a bigger Winter Games fan, the Summer Games can prove just as exciting, as Michael Phelps showed us two years ago. It was refreshing to bring that more human touch to my communicating, something that does not happen as much as it can because of the nature of my writing. But to jump in and join a movement is something I recommend every serious journalist do.

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Written by David Veselenak

March 2, 2010 at 7:02 am

A side step: Judging the ethics of the Olympics

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Because of myself being a major Winter Olympics junkie (if you haven’t noticed by my tweeting the last few days), I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate the Games into this blog. And instead of advice or personal viewpoints, I’ve decided to pose an ethics question to those who visit.

By now, everyone’s heard about the Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, and the untimely death he faced Friday as he lost control of his sled and flew off the track in Whistler, British Columbia. Tons of news reports are out there, reporting on the aftermath.

Now, herein lies the question: Youtube has seemingly pulled the video of Kumaritashvili crashing, citing that it is copyrighted by the International Olympic Committee (although the Associated Press video is still there). But a lot of people are crying out that the video is insensitive and not appropriate for viewership. I’m providing the clip because I want people to judge for themselves, but please be warned, it IS graphic:

And it isn’t just Youtube that’s pulling the clip. NBC has reportedly ordered that the clip no longer be played because of its nature. Only executive Steve Capus has the authority to allow the clip to be played, and it doesn’t sound like he’ll do that anytime soon.

The question is: Should this video be pulled from the Internet because of its nature? And is it journalistically ethical to play and post the video?

My two cents: I don’t think there’s anything illegal about the clip, as it is what happened. Nowadays, with 24-hour news channels, there is more of a tendency to replay clips of disasters over and over again (see: 9/11), something many viewers feel is gratuitous and unnecessary. Personally, it probably does not need to be played as often now, as the timeliness of the story is fading. As it was, I had a hard time watching the luge events this weekend knowing that that incident had happened. As the his father said, the track shouldn’t cause the death of an athlete.

If, however, the IOC investigates and something is determined, it may become ok to air it again to allow the public to scrutinize the ruling (as long as it isn’t played over and over again, see example above). But because it is news and was in a public place, there’s nothing illegal (at least in the United States) about posting and airing this clip. It’s just become tasteless.

Written by David Veselenak

February 16, 2010 at 4:13 am