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Journalists Banned From Using Smartphones At 2014 Sochi Olympics? 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-tweet-for-you dept.
First time accepted submitter SlongNY writes in with a story that journalists may be banned from taking photos or videos with smartphones at the 2014 Olympics. "'Journalists using mobile phones to film athletes or spectators will be considered a serious violation and will result in cancellation of accreditation,' said Vasily Konov, head of the state-run R-Sport news agency, which controls accreditation at the games. According to Buzzfeed, Mr. Konov later denied that he had said the ban was in place. Radio Free Europe, however, also reported him as saying the same thing."
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Journalists Banned From Using Smartphones At 2014 Sochi Olympics?

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  • by slycer9 (264565) on Monday November 11, 2013 @05:55PM (#45395441) Journal

    The Olympic Committee has been pushing for YEARS that they be the sole source of any information, media or other materials originating from the events. It's only a matter of time before they ban external reporters altogether and simply provide their own press releases throughout the days from their own staffers.

    • by bob_super (3391281) on Monday November 11, 2013 @05:58PM (#45395475)

      Which makes no sense. Because accredited journalists are the ones paying to be allowed to report the information.

      It's iPhone-Joe who needs to be banned under that logic.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2013 @06:11PM (#45395583)

      The Olympic Committee has been pushing for YEARS that they be the sole source of any information, media or other materials originating from the events. It's only a matter of time before they ban external reporters altogether and simply provide their own press releases throughout the days from their own staffers.

      Good. Let it collapse under that bullshit rule then.

      Go ahead and start banning something that we struggle every four years to continue to justify from every perspective. The cities left behind in the aftermath of hosting an Olympics would certainly agree. It's far from the financial whirlwind everyone wants to believe it is.

      And the only thing I'm going to be surprised over with these games is if Sochi somehow doesn't turn it into a complete clusterfuck. Between their logistical planning to the anti-gay sentiment being broadcast over these games as if it were Nazi Germany again, I don't hold much hope for success.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Good. Let it collapse under that bullshit rule then.

        *deep, annoyed sigh* Yes, yes, I'm certain THIS will DEFINITELY be the straw that breaks the IOCC. All the other backwards, selfish decisions they made in the past couldn't do it, but this one so certainly will. *eye roll* Come, my brothers, and prepare for the bonfire of the IOCC, as they finally die in our lifetimes, because we're more specialer than all those other people who got screwed by them in the past. *slow clap*

      • by Rick Zeman (15628)

        The Olympic Committee has been pushing for YEARS that they be the sole source of any information, media or other materials originating from the events. It's only a matter of time before they ban external reporters altogether and simply provide their own press releases throughout the days from their own staffers.

        Good. Let it collapse under that bullshit rule then.

        Go ahead and start banning something that we struggle every four years to continue to justify from every perspective. The cities left behind in the aftermath of hosting an Olympics would certainly agree. It's far from the financial whirlwind everyone wants to believe it is.

        And the only thing I'm going to be surprised over with these games is if Sochi somehow doesn't turn it into a complete clusterfuck. Between their logistical planning to the anti-gay sentiment being broadcast over these games as if it were Nazi Germany again, I don't hold much hope for success.

        Don't forget what global warming is doing to winters, too. I can easily see them trying to have their Olympics while Sochi is hitting 45-50F.

        • by DarkOx (621550)

          Yes and lets not forget the construction of these massive concrete venues, that don't see much post games use in many cases followed by millions of people jetting half way across the globe to attend is environmentally unconscionable.

          I find it amazing the same ass holes who expect me to buy $10 light bulbs and support banning the conventional wood stove; are in most cases ardent supports of the disgustingly carbon intensive exercise that is the Olympic Games.

          • They do it because they get free tickets to EVERY event. Seriously, something like 20% of every event is reserved for the uber-people, who pay NOTHING for those tickets. And those tickets are the special prime seats, up front with the good view, and carefully cordoned off from the plebs.

          • by dave420 (699308)
            Amazing straw-man argument there. Seriously wonderful. I hope for your sake it's a new Olympic sport.
            • by DarkOx (621550)

              Not a straw man and not a no true scottsman.

              Its Obama's EPA that has done these things, and Obama clearly supports the games.

              President Obama says no to a boycott of 2014 Sochi Olympics - Los ...
              articles.latimes.com/.../la-sp-sn-president-obama-olympics-boycott-2013...âZ
              Aug 9, 2013 - âoeWe fully support the comments today from President Obama rejecting calls to boycott the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Russia.
              President Obama Supports Tax Exemption for Olympic Athletes ...
              www.forbes.com/.../president-obama-supports-tax-exemption-for-olymp...âZ
              Aug 6, 2012 - Olympics (Photo credit: ClaraDon) Even President Obama has Olympic fever, it seems. That's the only plausible explanation for the latest word ...

              So there I can cite at least one example; no that a few moments of Goggling could not reveal at least 100's of others.

      • by gronofer (838299) on Monday November 11, 2013 @08:04PM (#45396437)
        Given the ridiculous corporatism, overbearing security measures, hostility to the Internet, doping scandals, and obsessive nationalism (which was of course built in from the beginning), it seems like it has already been dead for quite a while. They are now just going through the motions.
      • It's far from the financial whirlwind everyone wants to believe it is.

        Oh, it's a whirlwind alright. The big organizers, promoters and builders whirl in, scoop up all the money and whirl back out of town. Leaving the locals within some hundreds of kilometer radius holding out empty bags if not outright saddled with debt.

    • We're going to have to start using a new theme. In Olympic Russia, games report on journalists.

  • There's a difference (Score:4, Informative)

    by ScottCooperDotNet (929575) on Monday November 11, 2013 @05:56PM (#45395449)

    There's a difference between taking photos or video, and just posting text to social media. This sounds like a court type of thing, where cell phones are allowed but taking photos/video is not.

  • Follow the money (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2013 @05:56PM (#45395459)

    If independent footage comes out, R-sport doesn't get paid for it. Gotta have that cash.

  • which could otherwise be stated as "if we can't intercept it first, no way." there is a strong tradition of, ahhhh, shaping the truth before, during, and after in Russia.

    • by zlives (2009072)

      in this particular instance, the policy maybe pushed by the Olympic committee to better sell ad-time.

  • Seems like they might be seeing what they can get away with on the international stage before the official rules come into public scrutiny.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This has nothing to do specifically with smartphones... they aren't allowing any "non-professional" media recording devices for the media. They obviously can still tweet/text/call at the events. It's the same as telling your fast food employees not to take pictures of customers food in the back with their cell phones. If they pull put a professional camera it looks better and nobody would complain. This isn't news, move along...

    • by grcumb (781340) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:22AM (#45398063) Homepage Journal

      This has nothing to do specifically with smartphones... they aren't allowing any "non-professional" media recording devices for the media. They obviously can still tweet/text/call at the events. It's the same as telling your fast food employees not to take pictures of customers food in the back with their cell phones. If they pull put a professional camera it looks better and nobody would complain. This isn't news, move along...

      There is everything wrong with this. With recording as with all things, handsome is as handsome does. I have a photojournalist friend, recently returned from Afghanistan, whose primary camera is a little Canon point-and-shoot. You could scoff and talk about Good Enough, except that he's used a similar camera to provide a nice two page spread in Vanity Fair. Yes, he also walks around with a vintage Leica pano camera and a few other bits of exotic kit as well, but when it comes to getting shots, sometimes the best camera is the one you have in your hand.

      • Isn't the classic line about how to get the best shots "F5 and be there"? One infers that having a camera at the time was assumed.
  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Monday November 11, 2013 @06:12PM (#45395597)

    NBC wants it taped delayed covage to have good ratings

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      I have a solution to that... How about you do the event in a time zone closer to the audience with the most money? There are plenty of south American countries who would love to host the games.

      On a serious note... If NBC wants exclusive coverage, they are going to have to outlaw all cameras and electronic devices except by credential reporters who have singed an NDA while strip searching the spectators to make sure nobody gets one in. Cell phone jammers might be a good idea too.

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        ...except by credential reporters who have singed an NDA while strip searching the spectators...

        Altogether now, key of E flat, ... "Proust in his first book wrote about wrote about, Proust in his first book wrote about...".

      • There are plenty of south American countries who would love to host the games.

        You get your wish: Rio is hosting the next summer games.

        (I'm not entirely sure there's any city in South America large, snowy and mountainous enough to be suited to host the winter games... they mostly seem to be too warm or too flat. Santiago, Chile seems like the only one that might qualify.)

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          You get your wish: Rio is hosting the next summer games.

          Let's see how they handle the world cup before we leap for joy at them having the Olympics. It's not a foregone conclusion that the cup will run anything near smoothly.

          they mostly seem to be too warm or too flat.

          Well, what with global climate change, the winter Olympics are going to have to add a whole bunch of snow-free sports if they are going to continue anyway. That's a boon to all those already hot countries -- they can now bid for the winter games, and snowbound ones like Antarctica can host the summer ones.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Or maybe NBC shouldn't spoil the results of the tape-delayed event that they're promoting.

    • by antdude (79039)

      And have lots of commercials! IIRC, BBC and others didn't have them?

  • by rueger (210566) on Monday November 11, 2013 @06:13PM (#45395601) Homepage
    Having lived through the 2010 games in Vancouver, I can fully believe this story. The corporations behind the Olympics answer to no-one, and respect only the laws that they create for themselves.

    Local customs and laws, charters, and regulations are ignored or flouted without so much as a "Sorry," and the great armies of renta-cops rule the roost.
    • by Solandri (704621) on Monday November 11, 2013 @08:01PM (#45396419)
      In this case it's not the corporations. It's the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which puts on the games. They sell everything - exclusive coverage, exclusive food rights, exclusive t-shirt sales, etc. The corporations are as much a victim as the press and public. You pay lots of money for the privilege of covering/attending the Olympics, and in exchange the IOC makes damn sure nobody else infringes on the privilege they've sold you. Including local merchants who've been selling in the area long before the Olympics ever came. Have a store named "Olympic Sporting Goods" which is so named because it's on Olympic St? Gotta cover up your name during the Olympics.

      Yeah it sucks that only McDonalds can sell fast food on the Olympics venue, but can you really blame them for kicking out Joe the hot dog stand vendor? They paid the IOC huge bucks to become the official exclusive food sponsor. The IOC makes every right it sells exclusive if they can, because it makes a bidding war where they can extract the most money possible from the corporate sponsors. If you want to stop it, you need to put a leash on the IOC. Don't give them rights that infringe on the rights of pre-existing businesses. But cities are so desperate to host the Olympics they'll service the IOC like a $2 whore and and give the IOC anything it asks for.

      When Pierre de Coubertin came up with the idea of the modern Olympics, he prohibited professional athletes because he didn't want money to get in the way of a competition where each individual was simply trying to do his/her best. Unfortunately he didn't foresee that the athletes weren't the only ones who could be corrupted by money.
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        Olympic Committee (IOC) > Olympic Corporation, which is by law above the law(it's stupid but thats the way it is).

        the only way to fight it is to ignore it. ignore the problem for long enough and it goes away, because it's a publicity driven event. don't even know who the sponsors are...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bob9113 (14996)

        Yeah it sucks that only McDonalds can sell fast food on the Olympics venue, but can you really blame them for kicking out Joe the hot dog stand vendor? They paid the IOC huge bucks to become the official exclusive food sponsor.

        That seems like asking whether we can really blame the RIAA for pursuing massive infringement penalties; after all, they paid Congress huge bucks to write the ridiculous laws.

        Yes, you can blame McDonald's, and the RIAA, and Congress, and the IOC. They are all despots abusing power to

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I still have a couple of Sanyo monitors from the 2010 Vancouver games with all trademarking obliterated by black sticky labels (almost impossible to remove, not that anyone but Sanyo would care). I saw the Trademark police sheds near the main sites where enforcers would go out and cover up things like the Crane trademark on stadium urinals/toilets and other ridiculous "infringements". Nothing surprises me about the Olympics juggernaut coming to town!

    • Local customs and laws, charters, and regulations are ignored or flouted without so much as a "Sorry," and the great armies of renta-cops rule the roost.

      I love how your first statement established your credentials...then you drop the turd quoted above on us unsuspecting readers...

      You're giving Russia a free pass...they could change this rule (and pretty much any rule) easily...

      Russia sends punk rock activists to Siberia for 5 years, steals NFL team owner Super Bowl rings, bribes anyone in the world they nee

    • .... just like a religion.
  • by amightywind (691887) on Monday November 11, 2013 @06:19PM (#45395641) Journal
    What can go wrong with a Russian occupied war zone 20km south in Abkhazia, 200 km from a civil war zone in Chechnya, in a country run by a KGB trained despot who hates homosexuals, with no phones, and no outside communications? Ought to be a real party.
  • Oh yeah baby! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Monday November 11, 2013 @06:22PM (#45395667) Journal

    It's the host country's responsibility to ensure the billions of dollars in exclusivity rights' value is not diluted via unauhorized production.

    Witness UK's 00 agents neck-snapping unauthorized shop owners within 200 miles of London who put "Enjoy the Olympics!" signs in their windows.

    This is, after all, a private, commercial enterprise.

  • Money (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Monday November 11, 2013 @06:46PM (#45395867)

    This is about money and without money the Olympics will not survive.

    Look at it this way, the hosting country is signing on for the following:
    1. Massive infrastructure build.
    2. Massive security costs. Thanks PLO and others.
    3. Massive costs for accommodations and food.
    4. Massive costs for transportation.
    Add all that together and then realize that it all has to be recouped within the few weeks of the Olympics. It is easy to see why the IOC is very watchful of people infringing on their income streams. If you want the Olympics to continue the broadcast rights need to be worth paying for.

    • by mrbester (200927)

      Been to Barcelona recently and seen what has become of the Olympic stadium? That's what is happening to London. That's what will happen again. IOC couldn't give a fuck so long as they get their billions.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        IOC couldn't give a fuck so long as they get their billions

        Which they then spend on the next Olympics.

        • IOC couldn't give a fuck so long as they get their billions

          Which they then spend on the next Olympics.

          Isn't that what the host city is for? I don't think the IOC actually spends any
          money on the games themselves, on the contrary: It's their main cash source.

    • Re:Money (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BeShaMo (996745) on Monday November 11, 2013 @07:40PM (#45396273)
      Fuck the Olympics. All the nice core values it was created to support, Excellence, Friendship and Respect have been steamrolled by the increasing escalation in cost, the need/desire for massive all encompassing sponsorship deals and the general arrogant douchery of the IOC.

      At most the host city will benefit from some upgraded infrastructure, probably long overdue, but very rarely will the host come close to recouping the cost they have put in, and a lot of the money goes to waste, meaning that if they had spend the money purely on improving their citizens live, it would have gone much further. Supporters counter this by saying that the host will get more back in the long term from business promotion and tourism, but this claim is dubious at best, but being a very hard thing to quantify it's also impossible to refute, but considering it's mostly held in cities that are already some of the most popular tourist destination and business hubs, it's hard to see what real difference is being made.

      At the end of the day, the Olympics have very successfully branded themselves as a must have event, however the only ones who really benefits are the sponsors who gets a venue where a country's normal safeguards and laws are completely nullifies, the politicians who get to stand on the grandest stage of all and proclaim how awesome they are and the of course the members of IOC who gets to take home fat bribes.

      Again, fuck the Olympics. The great white elephant of the modern age.

      • by MitchDev (2526834)

        More like the Olympics are the "Must Avoid" event.
        All the hype over nothing, all the commercialism and greed suck.

      • by Mark (3012059)
        Well said. I have been boycotting anything to do with the Olympics for some time. It is a horrible over corporatised money grubbing enterprise and very little at all to do with the athletes and its origins. The IOC is a corrupt dictatorship of megalomaniacs - do nothing at all that will support them in any way what so ever.
      • by coofercat (719737)

        As a Londoner, I'm proud to know that some poor sap had to use a black marker pen to cover over the manufacturer's (tiny) logo on every one of the 70,000 'pixels' they put in the seating in the main stadium. I'm proud that no visitor to the Olympics was tarnished by seeing the name of a company who wasn't a sponsor, even though there was no "official pixel provider" at the games.

    • by rueger (210566)
      Add all that together and then realize that it all has to be recouped within the few weeks of the Olympics. It is easy to see why the IOC is very watchful of people infringing on their income streams. If you want the Olympics to continue the broadcast rights need to be worth paying for.

      Let's be clear about one thing: all the things that you list are things that the poor sods in the host country pay for, up front. The IOC does not pay for these things, The only people who ever really win are the IOC mem
  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Monday November 11, 2013 @06:52PM (#45395899)

    TFA states that journalists can still use proper photography gear. This is likely to expand the loop between shooting and publishing so it can go through channels, which is kinda censorship-ish and creepy.

    Although, this quote then makes absolutely no sense:

    "Organizers won't be able to have any effect on normal spectators, but supporters will be banned from bringing reflex cameras and nonprofessional equipment to the competitions," Konov added.

    "Reflex" cameras, as he calls them, are DSLRs (Digital Single Lens REFLEX), which *are* professional equipment, so methinks he doesn't know what he's talking about.

    Assuming he got his jargon wrong and DSLRs are allowed, I do like the unintended consequence of increasing the overall artistic and technical quality of the photography. Smartphone cameras are shit.

    • by Rick Zeman (15628)

      What's even more stupid is DSLRs have built in wireless now. Unless they ban tablets, smartphones, and oh, computers, they're totally fscked. How silly. But totalitarians usually are.

      • by oobayly (1056050)

        Well, at the London Olympics they had cat^H^H^H wireless detectors to find people with personal hotspots - they had signs up at the entrances saying they were prohibited. I think it's because they'd conned a shit load of money from BT as the official telecoms sponsor. If they'd been allowed to set up mobile jammers, I'm sure they would have.. Seeing as this one is in Russia, it'll be interesting to see if the IOC and organisers to go more draconian.

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      "Organizers won't be able to have any effect on normal spectators, but supporters will be banned from bringing reflex cameras and nonprofessional equipment to the competitions," Konov added.

      "Reflex" cameras, as he calls them, are DSLRs (Digital Single Lens REFLEX), which *are* professional equipment, so methinks he doesn't know what he's talking about.

      I suspect that you are seeing a bad translation of what he actually did say. Remember, he's almost certainly speaking Russian. The Washington Times article was in English.

      "Reflex" applies to more than DSLR, you know, and there are a lot of SLR cameras that are hardly professional grade equipment. It's your claim that "reflex *are* professional" that is questionable. But even so, the statement was translated as "reflex cameras and non-professional equipment", so your statement is not in any way contradicte

      • ... unless all of the folks walking around with gear that we Americans think of as "hobby enthusiast" level will find their cameras confiscated because it has been redefined as "pro level without a license". The level of picture-taking that Americans are used to, especially on vacation, is considered "espionage" in some places. Heck, people get hassled in New York for taking traditional touristy sunrise/sunset shots of bridges and such at off-hours, so what do you expect in Russia?
    • Journalists that don't have a reporting permit for the gear they bring, including amateur *and* pro gear, will be kicked out and lose their permits for the rest of the event. Athletes and athlete helper staff will not be allowed to record anything at all, even for study/training/re-evaluation purposes. Anyone caught recording "behind the scenes" stuff will be kicked out as well. This is total censorship for anyone that has a chance to be in places other than the public stands.
  • Russia's probably worried that gay people will use their smartphones to hook up with all the gay Russian athletes.

    It's kind of interesting to see such a large and relatively modern society lose it's collective mind over gay people.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It's kind of interesting to see such a large and relatively modern society lose it's collective mind over gay people.

      It's just another incident which maintains my faith in humanity... poor faith, perhaps, but faith nonetheless. I have faith that when things get difficult, people will look for anywhere to point a finger except at themselves.

  • Problem solved. The entire event is a pointless waste of resources anyway.

  • I care as little about the coverage as I care about "reality TV".

    It's a giant expensive distraction for the sheeple and best ignored.

  • Seriously, these people are so full of themselves.

  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Monday November 11, 2013 @10:37PM (#45397317) Journal

    Wake me up when someplace civilized is hosting.

  • The organizers have obviously never heard of wifi-equipped SD cards. Or smartwatches taking photos. Or... the list goes on. It's pathetic and laughable.
  • Does anybody really watch the Olympics anymore?
  • Athletes and helpers are also blocked from using any equipment to record even their own performance for re-evaluation purposes.
  • This is a wet dream come true for both the IOC and the Russians. Significantly reducing the likelihood of amateur video catching anybody doing stuff they're not supposed to is a major victory for these hosers.
  • The IOC and Russia are a perfect match. No freedom of the press and endemic corruption.

    In Soviet Russia, games watch you!
  • I have not watched the games since I was ~15. That's 25 years of no-olympics for me. To me this means one thing: They are totally failing.

    At this point I am so detached from the whole thing that I no longer care about it.

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