|This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on August 13, 2008.|
Citizen journalism; it’s you and me with a web camera, or a cell phone and an internet connection immediately posting what we see online. When you bring citizen journalism to a place like Beijing and the Summer Olympics, things can get interesting.
NBC and the CBC alone have paid nearly $1B for the rights to broadcast this summer’s games from Beijing, but if you connect with the people on the streets, and the athletes in the village, a raw and authentic story gets told.
Kris Krug and Robert Scales are making their second Olympic appearance as citizen journalists. Their web development company, Raincity Studios, has offices in Vancouver and Shanghai and they’ve travelled north to soak up all they can about the games as they’re an approved 2010 vendor of weblog services by the BC Olympic Secretary.
“That basically means our name is going to be passed to those countries, teams etc who are looking at building new media websites,“ says Krug from his phone while strolling a night snack market in Beijing.
Here’s where the lines between citizen journalism and new media get blurred. Through their Twitter updates, video postings, Flickr feeds and blog entries, The BBC, LA Times, Warsaw Business Journal, 21st Century Herald, and 95Crave have taken note of their raw story telling and have brought them into the fold for on the fly reporting.
Earlier this week they were approached by Qik, a company that lets people stream live video from Nokia cell phones. They were handed a couple of handsets, and they’ve been sharing the sights and sounds of the city live.
But Robert and Kris didn’t pay anything to have official broadcast rights for these games. Is what they’re doing by posting blogs, tweets, photos and streaming videos a violation?
“It’s a really complicated issue,” admits Krug.
“They’ll end up realizing that they can’t control all of it, and they’ll spend less effort trying to block people like us, and more effort monetizing the content they do control.”
The IOC has taken steps to rein in the content online as rights holders’ geoblock their websites to be only accessible within the rights holder’s borders. YouTube has also been approached to make sure highlights from the Games do not appear on the site, until after the rights window has expired.
That could all change as soon as 2010, if Krug and Scales bend the ear of Alex Huot, the IOC’s Director of New Media, in the right direction. He’s another one who has noticed what they’re doing on the streets of Beijing and is meeting with the pair this week.
“Anywhere I can get a Wifi connection; I can be live streaming on the internet. I’m not making money off it,” says Kris. “What are they going to do? Sue me?”
Image courtesy of Kris Krug