The Sports Journalists' Association is reporting that the International Olympic Committee has issued guidelines for athlete bloggers at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
For those of you that have been following this space, many of the restrictions on athletes' speech will seem familiar from the IOC's previous guidelines, issued during the 2008 Games in Beijing. These include prohibitions on the posting of any sound or video (or "still pictures . . . reproduced in a sequential manner, so as to simulate, in any way, moving images") recorded while on the Olympic grounds and the posting of any photos depicting "any sporting action of the Games or the Opening, Closing or Medal Ceremonies," as well as requirements that any material posted "should at all times conform to the Olympic spirit and the fundamental principles of Olympism . . . and be dignified and in good taste." New on the list: athletes will be prohibited from using the iconic Olympic rings on their sites. But, in a boon for local newspapers, the IOC has lifted the restriction on athletes posting on third-party websites, thus allowing local readers to follow the Olympic experiences of their hometown heroes.
Of course, anyone who has followed the exploits of the IOC for long is most likely familiar with the IOC's sometimes heavy-handed approach to intellectual property enforcement. Nonetheless, the IOC's continued insistence on severely limiting (or outright prohibiting) the posting of photographs and video taken while on the Olympic grounds, while intended to protect the monopoly of accredited reporters and journalists, ignores technological realities and hampers athletes from fully sharing their Olympic journeys with the folks back home.
While the IOC is a private body, and thus is free to restrict access to the Olympic grounds in the manner that they see fit, the push to bring the Olympics to Chicago in 2016, which has garnered White House support, raises some uncomfortable questions about the government's role in supporting an organization that imposes such restrictions on free speech.
The IOC wasn't the only body attempting to grapple with challenges presented by social media this week. On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal became the latest news outlet to issue guidelines regarding reporters' use of social networking sites. Among other canons, the WSJ guidelines exhort their writers to avoid "disparag[ing] the work of colleagues or competitors or aggressively promot[ing] your coverage."
Now, for some nostalgia: