Athletes from small countries like the Bahamas and Bermuda are competing and winning medals at the 2015 Pan American Games. That’s very big news in their home countries, but small media organizations from small countries cannot match the budgets of big operations from big countries. The technology and staff support at the Toronto 2015 press center have been configured to give smaller media operations a good chance to produce quality coverage. This also rounds out coverage of events with local knowledge and perspectives that mass media outlets do not emphasize.
Cisco Telepresence connections are making it possible for media from smaller outlets to interact with medalists and other newsmakers at many sports facilities located around the greater Toronto area. These scheduled press conferences let the journalists hear the athletes’ stories and pose questions as if they were at the press conference in person. There are also eight large screen broadcasts of the video feed from sports venues right at the Main Press Center to keep reporters working there completely up-to-date about the individual sports competitions.
The IT infrastructure at the press center also makes it possible for journalists working on their own computers or workstations to upload their stories and photos immediately. This speed is essential for news agencies like AP and Agence France Presse which are the main source for news outlets that do not have their own team members on site.
This year’s Pan American Games is also presenting an opportunity for individual National Olympic Committees to try out more choices for direct reports from sports events that can be circulated effectively by social media. The U.S. Olympic Committee is publishing “USA Daily,” a daily digital newsletter that fans and news professionals can subscribe to for free. The USOC is also circulating highlights with its social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. The Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) is focusing on rounding out the linguistic diversity of the games. Toronto 2015 has been issuing press releases in English, Spanish and French, but not in Portuguese, the official language of Brazil, so COB is operating its own news service in Portuguese. The Portuguese language media can use this resource to download the latest sports news from Toronto. The Argentine Olympic Committee is using a simple, low cost portfolio of its own web site, a Twitter News account, and Facebook page with over a dozen posts a day to get its news and achievements into the news cycle.
The renewal of diplomatic ties between the U.S.A. and Cuba is also enabling a higher profile for Cuban sports and sports journalism. Cuba, currently ranked fourth in the medal count, has demonstrated that a small country can think big in sports. Cuban sports journalists have very small budgets compared to their counterparts in large countries. Their major expenses for the Pan American Games are prepaid with discounts by the state owned media outlets they work for. Their limited expense allowances in local currency are just enough to buy budget groceries and prepare their own meals. They transport all their equipment on public transit, because there is no money for rental vehicles or taxis. And yet, they are still able to keep up with the high volume task of reporting on the seventy-three medals Cuban athletes won in the first eleven days.
Team spirit encouraged by AIPS, the international association supporting sports writers, photographers and broadcasters, promotes a collegial atmosphere within the journalistic community reporting on the 2015 Pan American Games. AIPS hosted a press breakfast on July 20 and distinguished the select journalists who have covered six or more Pan American Games together with its media partner, Edelman Public Relations. This year, AIPS is taking sports journalism to the next level with a new awards program. Called the Sport Media Pearl Awards, it will honor the best entries in sports journalism and open new doors for the many sports fans who have built on their interest in sports to launch widely read blogs or specialty newsletters.