Sending reporters to Sochi: Is it worth the risk?

BY STEVEN KUBITZA

The point of the Maxwell Media Watch is to analyze how the media is covering sports. But what happens when the ability to cover said sports becomes compromised due to the chance of death that comes with the coverage.

Sochi, Russia is not a safe place for anyone, and will be even less safe when the Olympics take place there is a few weeks. Terrorist attacks have been promised, as they usually are at a major sporting event, but after what we saw take place at the Boston Marathon in the seemingly invincible United States, it is tough, and even naïve, to believe that there will be no attacks at the Olympics.

When U.S. warships are at the ready for a sporting event, it is not a good sign. Those ships are ready for the athletes, but what happens to the fans and media members that will be in Sochi if an attack takes place.

The presence of warships and military planes makes it seem slightly comforting, but if there is a major attack, it will still take time to evacuate the US athletes. It is not as easy as them being taken to the coast and loaded onto ships. It will be chaos and who will be stuck in the middle of all it while still being in charge of providing information? The journalists. Right it in the middle of it all with a camera on them, or a notepad in hand.

It brings up a question that unfortunately will not be asked: Is it worth it to send journalists to the Olympics in Sochi with all of the terror threats?

American journalists have been sent to war zones, so there is no question that they will be going somewhere where there are only threats of terrorism. I suppose it comes with the job.

All of the politics of the situation need not be discussed in this space, because all I am concerned about is the safety of the journalists. With television coverage already being our dominant form of taking in the Olympics, must we have every major news outlet send someone to cover the events? The answer is no, but it will still happen because of the never-ending quest to be on top of the media ratings.

What I ask to anyone who watches the Olympics, or any situation where a reporter is in danger is simply to respect that man or woman for what they are doing. They are putting their own life at risk so you can get coverage of an event. I repeat, their own lives are at risk so you at home can get the news. An honorable position if I have ever seen one.

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About The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project

The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project is a hub for teaching, research, and service related to sport media. The Project benefits students and faculty at Bowling Green State University, and offers outreach and media consulting to area and regional groups that work with student-athletes. Through collaborative efforts of the Sport Management program and the School of Media and Communication, BGSU students have the opportunity to learn such skills as sports writing, reporting, broadcasting, announcing, public relations, media relations, communication management and production. Faculty and other scholars have access to resources about the commercial and sociological aspects of sport.

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