Journalists to carry the Olympic torch

In a news item title “Canada’s Olympic Storytellers to carry the flame,” CTVGlobemedia recently announced that journalists from the company (including CTV, TSN, RDS, Discovery Channel and The Globe and Mail) will take part in the Olympic torch relay.

Harvey Oberfeld, former longtime B.C. journalist (Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post, Vancouver Sun, BCTV) wrote about the subject on his blog Keeping it Real. (The Tyee later ran an excerpt of Oberfeld’s post on its blog, The Hook.)

In the blog post, Oberfeld wrote:

“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!”

Toronto Star blogger Randy Starkman also wrote about this on his Olympics Blog. He wrote:

“…it strikes me as being totally counter to the spirit everyone associated with the Olympic torch relay loves to espouse, not to mention journalism ethics…

“No journalist should be carrying the torch. Coca Cola offered me that opportunity two months ago. First off, Coca Cola? Should I be accepting a perk like that from a big Olympic sponsor? Second, I’m a reporter. Covering the Olympics is my job. Do I deserve special privileges for it?”

The other networks have not announced such plans yet.