Olympic Torch: Sacred Symbol or CTV Marketing Tool?
CTV put out a news release yesterday that 27 of their “storytellers” (translation broadcasters) are going to carry the Olympic torch as part of the cross country relay. Pardon me if I can’t get excited about that.
In fact, it strikes me as being totally counter to the spirit everyone associated with the Olympic torch relay loves to espouse, not to mention journalism ethics.
The CTV Group of 27 – ranging from Brian Williams to Ben Mulroney to Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail – are basically jumping to the front of the line ahead of the Canadian public, not to mention all the worthy Canadian Olympic athletes present and past who aren’t going to get or be offered that opportunity (See speed skater Kristina Groves’ story).
They’re getting that chance because Olympic sponsor RBC is bestowing it upon them. It’s all part of the CTV-led Olympic broadcast media consortium’s game plan to use all the platforms available to them to market themselves and the Games.
Fair enough. But don’t spoon feed us all this stuff about how special and sacred the Olympic torch is as it gets lit today amid much pomp and pageantry in Olympia, Greece, and then go right ahead and use it as a crass marketing tool.
Okay, Brian Williams carrying the torch is understandable. The guy’s been the face of Olympic TV coverage forever. Carolyn Waldo, Olympic champion synchro swimmer turned broacaster, is another worthy candidate in the Group of 27.
But Ben Mulroney? Michael Landsberg? Local CTV broadcaster Ken Shaw?
Perhaps they don’t have a choice in the matter. Perhaps this is a CTV edict. Maybe they’re embarrassed by it.
Surely, they’re thinking: What’d I ever do to deserve to carry the torch?
No journalist should be carrying the torch. Coca Cola offered me that opportunity two months ago. First off, Coca Cola? Should I be accepting a perk like that from a big Olympic sponsor? Second, I’m a reporter. Covering the Olympics is my job. Do I deserve special privileges for it? (Good piece here by former Olympic rowing medalist turned journalist Alison Korn)
Can’t imagine taking that opportunity ahead of an Olympic athlete, who sweats so hard for it, all the volunteers in sport who gives so much, or a little kid who could be inspired by it.
Read this story today about freestyle skier Kyle Nissen carrying the torch as a little tyke who had to have help lifting it and had to use tape to hold up the official sweatpants they gave him.
Be hard to reconcile taking the torch out of his hands.