July 29 2008

And So It Begins

For the most part I have tried staying out of the whole controversy over the Olympics being held in China, except for one post about attacking the torch carriers, but now I’m annoyed.

The media had been assured they would receive unrestricted Internet access while in the Main Press Center or at the event venues.  This was in direct contradiction with the the typical censorship the Web receives in China, but was expected due to China wanting to show itself off to the world.

Now news is coming out that not only will they be restricted from some sites, it also seems they are being given miserably slow speeds that some suspect are on purpose to discourage use.  Sites such as Amnesty International and any site related to Tibet, will be blocked from the journalists, and who knows what else journalists will find blocked as they check more during the course of the games.  NBC also requested permission to film in Tiananmen Square and was essentially told not to bring the issue up any more.

Am I surprised by these moves?  No, not in the least, but I will say I’m disappointed.  I thought the Chinese might actually use this chance to change their image on the world stage, but instead they seem to be doing nothing more than reinforcing all the thoughts we already had about them.  At this late date there is little the media can do as they are already moving in, so it would be difficult to say, “Hey, we’re pulling out now!”  Deals are signed, teams ae in place, and more than likely all of them will just ride this out, but hopefully this will continue to be exposed after the games.  Sure they may be censored while they are inside the country, but there is nothing stopping them from collecting info and publishing all of it post games when they’re back home.

This certainly is not the worst thing the Chinese have ever done, but it hits close to home for me being involved with the media, and restricting the tools and freedoms of the media, while the norm in China, are just not acceptable.

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