So the big question ahead of the start of the Olympic Games this Friday is less who will take home all the medals than how will the Chinese deal with the media should anything “newsworthy” arise (read: protests, etc.). Thus far things are not looking so promising: On top of reports that China continues to censor Internet access, comes this week’s story that Chinese police had beaten and jailed two Japanese reporters for attempting to report on this week’s attack in the Xinjiang region (not to mention the arrest of two Americans and two Brits for unfurling a banner protesting Tibet).
To this end the Observer is reporting that there has been much talk inside the wall of both NBC — the sole American network covering the Games — and the NYT as to how they will deal with breaking news. NBC head Dick Ebersol has made it clear that NBC is there to cover sports first, however “in the major venues, we have our own cameras. So if something develops during the opening ceremony…we also have both news and sports people ready to comment on that.” For the NYT however it’s about “so much more than sports.” One of the biggest challenges, apart from negotiating the endless Chinese bureaucracy that has a tendency to change rules at the last point, will be how to cover the restrictions on coverage:
This is a particular problem for the rights holders. The ethical questions about working with the Chinese are complicated by a philosophical dimension: China is repressive toward journalists, and it is open-handed toward commerce. So which proposition is the truth about freedom in China? And which side are you on?President Bush, may himself be setting a certain tone for future coverage. The President, who is traveling in the region on his way to Beijing has apparently decided to speak out again Chinese policy during a speech he will be giving tomorrow in South Korea. Let the Games begin, as they say.