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Covering The Olympics

by David Gura
Jul 30, 2008

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Seven years ago, when it was bidding for the Olympic Games, China promised that journalists would have unfettered freedom to report during the event. That pledge, it seems, no longer stands.

Reporters in the Olympic Village say they're unable to access certain web sites. Namely those with information on the Taiwanese independence movement, Tibet, and Falun Gong. They can't navigate to amnesty.org or Radio Free Asia, either.

The International Olympic Committee sent us this statement:

The IOC has always encouraged the Beijing 2008 organisers to provide media with the fullest access possible to report on the Olympic Games, including access to the internet. BOCOG [Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad] has said 'sufficient and convenient' internet access will be provided for the media to cover the Games. Today we learned there are issues accessing some websites. Therefore we are talking with the organisers to understand exactly the situation is and to see what may need to be rectified.

During the second hour, we'll talk to a handful of reporters and editors, charged with covering the Games in Beijing. How much freedom will they really have? How much of their coverage will they devote to foreign policy, human rights, and protests?

We'll speak with Anthony Kuhn, NPR's estimable Beijing correspondent, who kindly agreed to wake up at 3:00 a.m. (Beijing), to go to our bureau; Jonathan Paterson, an assignment editor at the BBC, responsible for planning the organization's coverage of the Games; and Terry McDonell, the managing editor of Sports Illustrated.

Come August 8th, when the Olympics begin, what do you want to read, hear, and see? Are you principally interested in the events, or do you want stories about the political climate in China?

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