New Olympic Event: Rumormongering? p.19

By: DOROTHY GIOBBE THE ATLANTA Committee for the Olympic Games has found itself on the defensive in recent days after a rash of complaints about everything from sauna-like heat to dangerously unbalanced bus drivers.
But reporters are getting in on the action, too. A recent report in New Jersey's Bergen County Record suggested that reporters at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution were given a number of strict directives by their editors regarding coverage of the Olympic Games.
Among them:
u Reporters are not to use the names of foreign athletes unless absolutely necessary. Foreign participants, instead, should be referred to by the names of their countries (i.e., the fencer from France).
The reason, according to the Record, is that editors at the Atlanta newspapers are concerned that "too many" foreign names will "confuse the readers."
After he stopped laughing derisively, Journal and Constitution Olympic editor Thomas Oliver labeled the allegation "ridiculous."
So, are the newspapers running the names of foreign athletes? "Of course we are," Oliver said. "Absolutely."
Suggesting that some visiting journalists have overindulged in a liquid form of southern comfort, Oliver offered a theory about the origin of such reports.
"What happens is that the Games run so late and the deadlines are so tight, the reporters go and have drinks in a bar. After a few drinks, by the time it gets around the bar, the story is that the Atlanta Journal and Constitution won't run foreign athlete's names."
The Record also reported that after the stirring Olympic torch ceremony starring Muhammad Ali, "writers for the papers were under orders to limit their coverage to happy happy, joy joy stories."
Oliver, responding to the report, sighed heavily and said simply, "Absurd, asinine, uninformed."
"Once again, we [the newspaper industry] have shown that we deserve the criticism we get from the public. Obviously, these people [the critics] can't read the newspaper.
"We are being critical of everything that deserves to be criticized, and we are running foreign athletes' names," he said.
Perceptions of coziness between the Journal and Constitution and Olympic organizers may have been dispelled before the start of the Games when the newspaper was punitively stripped of five of its six photo passes for the opening ceremony on July 19.
The move by ACOG to pull the passes came after the Journal and Constitution published unauthorized photos of a July 15 dress rehearsal of the gala opening ceremony, according to a report from the Associated Press.


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