OLYMPICS / Olympic Talks

Roll up, roll up, to the five-ring media circus
By Patrick Whiteley

Updated: 2008-07-28 09:30


My Beijing apartment was buzzing with members of the Olympic media circus last week.

My Aussies mates work for one of the world's biggest media ring masters, Rupert Murdoch, and only hours after touchdown, weren't just hungry for breakfast - they were starving for news.

Aussies talk funny so English translations are provided.

"What's the John Dory (story)?" asks Jacko. "Where is it, who's involved and when does it start?"

Crikey (Wow)! My mates are more toey than a Roman sandal ( keen).

"A cuppa (tea/coffee) anyone?

"Bugger the brew (no thanks), where's the yarns (stories)."

Dicko points out the window. "There's story No 1," he says looking at the pollution. "What a Barry Crocker (shocker)."

"Here's another. China Daily has this grouse (good) page, with all those whacky stories," says Barnsey. "Grandma divorces family dog, boy breaks world whistling record."

"They are also setting up areas where people can chuck a spaz (protest), but ha! You need the nod (permission)," says Farnsey.

"We got to start yacking (talking) to the locals," says Gaz.

"Abso-bloody-luety (yes), they're rippers (good ideas)," says Blinky. "But are we ready to go the full clappers (big) on China yet? We're still two weeks away."

"Soon we'll start cooking with gas (go big)," says Hendo. "OK. Let's hit the frog and toad (road)."

Interestingly, the media are only starting to "cook with gas" now, 11 days out because this is the reality of news coverage everywhere.

More than 99.99999 percent of the world does not watch 24-hour world TV news services. Despite globalization hype, people have been, and still are, tribal types.

Except for maybe expats, who have a foot in both camps, most want to know what's happening in their backyard first and foremost.

Stories about local tax cuts and a local dog who drags his owner from a burning home will always beat stories about far away lands.

After working all day, feeding the kids and keeping house, most foreign folks don't have time to study changing China, unless there is a disaster. Then they'll watch for about a minute.

That's what makes the Games so important for China. Average people will make time to learn more about a far away land. And the world's best journalists will do what they do. There will be good news and bad, but most importantly there will be news, news and more news.

If you Google Beijing Olympics you can read thousands of stories, which change like Beijing's much-talked about sky.

By late August, when everything returns to normal, most will know more and adjust their old views.

I'm punting (betting) that viewpoints will change, as fast as China.

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