Category Archives: Media

#oneaday 58: Citius, Altius, Fortius…?

So says the Olympic motto – faster, higher, stronger. Indeed this year’s Olympics could and should do a lot of things for Britain. Much has been written about the legacy vs cost of the whole project and the latest figures to be quoted show a hard cost of £9.1Bn to the UK tax payer.; To put some perspective on this, £9.1Bn  is about half the bank bonuses paid in the City of London in 2008 just before the major crash and about twice what was paid out to bankers this time last year.There will be a load of new homes for people (note I don’t say ‘houses’ because many will not actually be that, but stick to the official word) in East London some of which will be ‘affordable’ again official speak. 6 of the 8 sporting venues have been found a use post games, leaving only 2 to go. The project has been delivered on time and by all accounts within budget and to a high standard. This is all good. Tickets are oversubscribed and whilst thousands of UK citizens have not been able to get tickets, this is the first time that any Olympics has been sold out so far in advance. I guess that is a tribute to the UK public’s appetite for sport and the big occasion. The organisers even sold 20,000 tickets to the Synchronised Swimming when capacity was half that. Who’d have thought?

Indeed I will make no bones about it, I am a big supporter of the Olympic Games. Even though it has become a fully professional games and we will see a second Wimbledon tennis tournament this year with most of the same players taking part, it is still a great sporting occasion and one that Britain has a very decent track record (no pun intended) over the years. It is probably best that it is virtually all professional now and that aspect is out in the open. For years the USSR and DDR plus other Eastern Bloc nations would show up and win loads of medals through a mixture of ‘focus’ namely they were state sponsored full time athletes, gymnasts, weightlifters and so on, or through blatant cheating by using performance enhancing drugs. Over age ‘college’ kids from the USA would sweep up the other medals and everyone would shrug their shoulders and accept it. Great Britain would produce the occasional super performers like Daley Thompson, Steve Ovett, Sebastian Coe as well as fantastically talented and unassuming amateurs like Mary Peters and David Hemery.

Anyway I digress! For me the Olympics are fab. This year, and every four years there will be an army of volunteers who will give their time to help run the games and welcome all the visitors from overseas. But I have read reports that the volunteer army have been given strict instructions by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) on how they can and can’t use social media through the games and this has to be a really suspect decision.

Before we call for the head of Lord Coe, who has not only proved himself to be a truly world class athlete, but has run the whole enterprise with an amazing sense of professionalism and passion (much like his running ability), we have to look at the Olympic organisers, the IOC. Much like FIFA they report to no one bar themselves and make decisions without fear of consequence. And they are based in the tax haven of Switzerland, just like FIFA.  It is the Olympics themselves that have put this dictate down.

So imagine that you are one of thousands who will give up their time to help most likely nowhere near any sporting action, and you are told ‘no Twitter, no Facebook, no communication’ during the games please. Instead of encouraging thousands of volunteers to let their friends know what is happening, good or bad, direct from the coal face and in the process generating millions of Olympic tags, you snap that off at the source and introduce dark ages rules that will only irk those who are giving up their time for the honour of helping out. Seriously the IOC need to reconsider their position and do that rather quickly.

This sort of backward thinking would have been perfectly accepted at the Bejing Games of 2008, after all China does not really like the World Wide Web, preferring the Chinese version.  But as for Britain being complicit in this outrage, well it is astonishing, out of touch and just plain wrong. We have not seen this sort of totalitarian approach to information control since Henry VIII broke with Rome, although Murdoch has had a pretty good go at playing his own special hand in recent years.

Outrageous and out of touch. Dear IOC, for the sake of your own reputation please reconsider your position on the issue of social networks for this year’s Olympics or suffer the heat that will inevitably rise as citizens reject your nonsense rules. Higher, faster, stronger in everything, thank you.


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#oneaday 31: A Free Press?

Last weekend we had a trip to the wonderful town of Southwold on the Suffolk coast. I actually intend to blog about the wonders of this beautiful place later in the #oneaday series, but after dinner at The Swan on Sunday night, we retired to the sitting room to have a nightcap and read the newspapers in front of a roaring fire.  It was a chance to read the physical papers, something I am doing less and less nowadays given the presence of my iPhone and the Apps that help me keep up to date with the news, whether it is via the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph or indeed The Onion. All these Apps offer a free daily service(although The Guardian did cost a one off £2.49 – incredible value all things considered), but the prospect of actually reading old fashioned newsprint was mildly exciting. I almost felt wistful.

Thumbing through a copy of The Daily Mail is always fun, provided someone else has paid for it. I always liked The Sunday Times even if I did pay for it, and part 1 of their ‘Top 500 Apps in the World’ immediately caught my eye. I always love these advertising slogans that claim to be ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’ or ‘The Greatest Place in the World’. British Airways used that approach for years, I am not sure if they still do us it, but after pissing off their customers and staff with a series of strikes, I assume that they have quietly buried that slogan along the way.

Back to The Sunday Times,  it turns out that this headline ‘Top 500 Apps in the World’ referred to the fact that The Sunday Times has according to their copy ‘ found the 500 apps (sic) that will make your life easier, better and much more fun’. The guide broke Apps down into a number of categories – social networking, news, business, sport, cars, games, fashion & beauty, shopping & weddings, food, drink, reference, personal finance and babies & families. It also points out for readers to look out for Sunday Times ‘star’ Apps, presumably the star indicating  the better ones, in the opinion of the writer.

It has to be said many of the Apps I love are in the 1st part of the guide. I presume many more will be in part 2, due out today, which I will not bother with having seen part 1.  Facebok, Instagram, Skype, Tweetdeck, BBC News (although very buggy is great for content), LinkedIN, Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Redlaser, Wikipedia, World Factbook are all there. No Guardian, or Telegraph and Daily Mail for that matter  though (not that I am a Mail fan). Which is a shame. But we do have The Sunday Times, unsurprisingly and deservedly as the content is amazing, and The Times both starred and wait for it, wait for it…..

The Sun and The News of the World. Yep, they are in there – amongst 12 other peers in the NEWS section.  Here’s the write up:-

iPad – The Sun – free for he 1st month or trial edition for NoW

‘The iPad edition of The Sun is a brisk read that serves up the best of the print and digital worlds; a faithful reproduction of the paper, neatly navigated by scrolling thumbnails of pages, with a iEdition that breaks stories into categories and displays them as plain text, like a website. Innovations include a 360-degree pictures of Page 3 girls every Monday. The NoW plays to its strengths: agenda- setting exclusives and glamorous photography. The primary draw is likely to be video clips of celebs and politicians doing things they shouldn’t. Subsequent editions are £1.19 each.’

The writer at least has a sense of humour and I assume that he or she is under company orders. Given that News of the World, The Sun, The Times & The Sunday Times (as well as The Wall Street Journal) are all owned by the same group, headed by Rupert Murdoch, he or she probably did not have any choice as to whether these Apps should or should not be included. No one ever said the press is free,  until the internet came along that is. Many media Apps are free, but for some companies and publishers, Apps will be paid for. Time will judge if all of us readers have a free press or not.

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