"The Olympics are about so much more than sports," said the Atlanta Journal-Constitution assistant managing editor/Olympic news. And he has the numbers to prove it.
Oliver told attendees at the recent American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors convention in Atlanta that the Journal-Constitution plans to assign more than 90 news and feature writers, as compared to 65 sportswriters, to a huge staff that will produce a special Olympics section for 30 straight days.
The news and feature writers will do articles about various nonathletic aspects of the summer games ? including its massive crowds, its many parties, its economics, and more. Nine of these writers will report exclusively on media coverage of the Olympics by more than 15,000 journalists.
Of course, the lead stories each day will virtually always be about the sports events ? and "we will cover every single one," said Oliver.
Plans call for a total of 301 people to produce the daily Olympics section, with 79 of them coming from other Cox newspapers. In return, a six-page Olympics section will be sent to these sister papers.
The Journal-Constitution ? whose profit-making section will have a 50-50 ad-editorial ratio ? is also putting together other Olympics projects, including a monthly magazine scheduled to debut in January.
In the meantime, the Journal-Constitution is already publishing plenty of Olympics stories, including some hard-hitting ones.
For instance, staff writer Melissa Turner did a front-page piece Oct. 12 reporting that Billy Payne, president of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, had received a 6% pay increase to $669,112 a year. This, according to the article, is "the highest salary of any head of a nonprofit organization in the nation."
When next summer arrives, Olympics coverage will obviously put a great strain on the Journal-Constitution staff. Assistant managing editor/features Susan Soper, who introduced Oliver, joked about a "giant sucking sound" at the papers as people are increasingly pulled away from regular duties to cover the 1996 games.
But Oliver said the Journal-Constitution will continue to write about other things during the games.
"We're not going to shut down the regular paper for a month," he commented. "There's a presidential election and local elections next year. There will probably be a war somewhere. And people will probably still be talking about O.J.!"
?("We're not going to shut down the regular paper for a month. There's a presidential election and local elections next year. There will probably be a war somewhere. And people will probably still be talking about O.J.!") [Caption]
?(? Thomas Oliver, assistant managing editor, Olympic news, Atlanta Journal-Constitution) [Photo & Caption]
By: David Astor ANYONE WHO THINKS Atlanta's 1996 Olympics will be solely a sports story is not thinking like Thomas Oliver.