What is #media2012?
#media2012 network of individuals and institutions who are creating an independent citizen journalism network around the London 2012 Games. The network consists of physical media centres around the UK and in London, along with a touring programme of creative, artistic work and critical blogging interventions.
Who is involved?
We are a diverse collective with stakeholders in leading educational and cultural institutions in the UK and internationally. The Steering Committees page gives a snapshot of those who are working for #media2012. Our starting point was a partnership between the Abandon Normal Devices festival in the North West, the London 2012 Creative Programmers Network and the University of the West of Scotland. Now, we have hubs developing in Scotland, the South West, the North West, the East Midlands and the West Midlands, along with a growing London based community.
How can an increase in citizen journalism at the Olympic games improve the image of Britain to the world?
There are three ways in which citizen journalism will contribute to the portrayal of British culture during the Olympic Games. First, it will provide a chance for those elements that are part of the Olympic programme, but which are not covered by the sports journalist community to gain a high profile. Citizen journalism’s viral effect means that if the online community think it matters, then it will get picked up and syndicated, perhaps even forcing professional journalists to raise its profile. We can expect few campaigns to have this effect during Games time. Second, by building an inclusive citizen journalism environment, we actually engage people more effectively, transforming them from mere spectators into producers of the 2012 experience. Finally, by promoting citizen journalism, the UK will advance its contribution to democratizing media participation and freedom, sending signals to the rest of the world, where more restrictive media policies operate. this is one wonderful way that open media culture can use the Olympic Games to change the world.
How can you ensure that professional journalists appreciate the work of citizen journalists during the games? You say that the divide between the two must be closed-how can this be encouraged?
By creating spaces for dialogue and collaborative working. Those professional journalists that we’ve reached with this idea are very enthusiastic about the potential. Already, professional journalists are part of the twittersphere and i think this will help close the gap between journalist and audience. I think we can expect to see many more collaborations around 2012. For instance, broadcasters from outside of the uk will most likely employ the services of citizen journalists to get the scoop on the street, as they wont be able to send many people. This has happened at previous Games.
With the games being held in the capital, and the Marathon event picturing the major London landmarks, surely the image of Britain after the games will strongly strengthen the image of London – connotations of the queen, buckingham palace etc. How could this image be broadened to cover the rest of the British Isles.. Is it even possible?
The principal way that this will be altered is through a diverse and unique cultural programme. The range of activities that are taking place outside of the sports arenas will present a lot of surprises for people, when trying to make sense of what London2012 represents about Britain. Iconic images are always desired byaudiences – people want to feel that they understand London – but visually and architecturally, London 2012 has already broken many rules. The logo and all the design values that follow from it are a good example. Also, 2012 is distinct for being a nations and regions Games. International audiences will see as much of different parts of the UK as they will of London and our plans to build a Nations and Regions social media network during Games time, including a London based innovative media centre will contribute to this. When people see our plans, they’ll be lining up to get involved.
What is your true fundamental motif for starting the underground media zone project
For the Olympic movement to fulfil its Charter commitments, it will need to fundamentally rethink its relationship to the media. The present arrangements have not been in place so long and I think we begin to see the first steps towards a new era of mega-event media relations. At the heart of that should be the values that are present within the citizen journalism population, but rather than threaten professional journalists, i think it can reinvigorate journalism for the 21st century. The rise of social media transforms how we communicate in fundamental ways and believe that the Olympic Games should be an occasion to experiment with these transformations. Finally, a publicly owned new media legacy to London 2012. Everyone talks about legacies about various dimensions of the Games, but what about the media? This can also be an occasion to reconsider what the media should be doing at an Olympic Games and they shouldn’t just be stuck in media centres.
How could it be achieved and how could future communities hosting large events follow suit and benefit from it
It will be achieved by creating a legacy for citizen journalists that moves from one Games to the next. We have already started this and the plans have been building since Torino 2006. We achieved a lot in Vancouver 2010 and a number of people from Russia to Chicago are getting involved. The launch event in Manchester last week brought together people from 15 countries and the impact has been significant. I think the IOC will be watching with interest and we hope that LOCOG will find a way to work with us.