John F. Russell: Olympic magic difficult to protect in age of information
Steamboat Springs — These days, news moves at the speed of light, and as a newspaper reporter and photographer, I’ve come to terms with a news cycle that can push even the most efficient reporters.
In our business, we no longer have the luxury of waiting for the next day’s paper.
To my dismay, news, and my children, have discovered the Internet, and I simply can’t keep either of them off it.
As a parent I can put limits on what my children view and how much time they spend on their computers. But as a newspaper reporter, there are times that we can’t wait. We often have to publish stories, news alerts and photographs as soon as we have it. We write before we know every single detail in order to be competitive with television, radio and other sources. We do this to serve our readers to the best of our ability.
The fact is that the shelf life of news these days is shorter than most of the produce I purchased at City Market at the start of the week. If I wait until Friday to eat them, chances are the food isn’t going to be very appetizing. The same is true of the news.
No place is that more apparent than this year’s Olympic Games, which are taking place in Sochi, Russia. Most of the events are taking place in the middle of the night here in America. By the time we go to pick up today’s newspaper to read the morning news, the athletes who competed in the event, which took place 11 hours ago, are sound asleep.
To say that reporting the events is a challenge is an understatement.
It’s a complicated situation for a newspaper like ours, who has spent a lot of money to have two reporters on the ground in Sochi. Those reporters work around the clock doing everything possible to keep our readers informed about what is happening in Russia in a timely matter. It’s not an easy task for a small staff that has to figure out how to get to several events in a single day.
The problem is that many of our readers want to watch the events unfold on prime time television. They don’t want us to proclaim the winners in our headlines, or write about the day’s events before they have a chance to watch them — and I can sympathize.
But the fact is that it’s not our fault. In today’s world, it’s hard to sit on a story. Fans can live-stream events or read stories on the Internet. There are sites with photos, results and everything you want to know that can be found within minutes or hours of an event.
It takes a huge effort to avoid the news from the games. It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult in the age of information.
Here at the Pilot & Today, we have tried to write general headlines on our Web page and have done our best to keep our readers informed while catering to many of our readers who want the see the magic of the Olympics as they unfold. Sadly, the times have changed, and when the games are held half-way around the world, it can be impossible to hide from the news cycle.
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Editor’s note: The story was updated at 8:33 p.m.