2010 Olympic freebies: media MUST come clean

Harvey OberfeldAs a longtime journalist, Harvey Oberfeld wants to see the Vancouver Olympics fairly reported and commented upon. So he needs to be assured the media are not on the take.

The Games are almost upon us.  And yes, I am getting a bit pumped for the competitions.

As someone who is athletically-challenged, to put it kindly, I always marvel at the abilities, skills and even the bravado of those so gifted or so disciplined and developed to excel in sports: whether it’s in hockey, football, soccer, martial arts, figure skating or even skateboarding.

So now that I’m retired, I will be watching these Games a lot more than in the past and enjoying them more too. And I want my city, my province and my country to shine.

But as a longtime journalist, I also want to see it all fairly reported and commented upon — not only the events themselves, but everything else that surrounds them.

Spare me the shilling, the false promos and wild superlatives, the whitewashed perspectives — and any VANOC bought-for or paid-for media whoring.

So I need to be assured the media are not on the take. And I believe the B.C. and Canadian public deserve that too.

I was already made uncomfortable when seeing “news” reporters,  anchors or commentators beaming and gushing about carrying the torch.

And I realize this concern poses special problems for CTV, being the host broadcaster. I hope they know that using their “news” staff to just automatically pump up, promote or shill or fawn over the Games and  their coverage will cheapen, not enhance, their broadcast and the reputation of any of their staff, dancing on a string.

And all media can be  susceptible to Olympic-sized temptations!

To ensure a “clean” Games from a journalistic point of view, I believe the media MUST come clean beforehand.

Has VANOC (or Games sponsors) provided any free passes to simply view (not professionally cover) events for any media staff: whether executives, managers, staff or their family members and friends?

Has VANOC (or Games sponsors) assisted (even if they paid for them) any media executives, managers, staff or family members and friends to obtain tickets to any sporting events or social gatherings?

Has VANOC (or Games sponsors) provided ANY KIND  OF FREEBIES to media members? ANY KIND OF FREEBIES!

Have any government bodies, Crown agencies, companies or individuals provided any freebies related to the Games to media members or assisted in obtaining tickets to any events?

The media must come clean!

As they often say to government (or at least used to) the public have a right to know. I’d be happy to let them use this forum to assure their readers, viewers and listeners and to give them the answers to these questions.

Or better yet, they should protect their own reputations, and the integrity of their own coverage, by assuring the public on their own medium before the Games begin.

Silence would be quite worrisome.

This piece was first posted on January 25th, 2010 at Harvey Oberfeld’s blog Keeping it Real.(Published with permission.)

Harvey Oberfeld retired in 2006 after a 38-year career in print and broadcast that took him from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix to the Vancouver Sun to BCTV. His work was recognized with awards from the Jack Webster Foundation, the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the Radio-Television News Directors Association and the BC Association of Broadcasters.