Olympic stadium

#media2012 is dedicated to reporting on the 'other dimensions' of the games

Credit: Populous
As London prepares to host the Olympic and Paralympic games this year, around 20,000 journalists from across the globe are also said to be preparing to cover the sporting events.

And the Olympics buzz is not just on traditional media channels. Last month the BBC's sports editor David Bond spoke to Journalism.co.uk about the role social media is likely to play in both news gathering and reporting, and the considerations the broadcaster is having to make as a result.

"Twitter has just changed everything," he said at the time.

For one network of citizen journalists, known as #media2012, the massive demand for content related to the Olympics has opened up a window of opportunity to provide a new news provider outside the mainstream, committed to reporting on the "other dimensions" of the games.

Chair of the #media2012 steering committee Professor Andy Miah's own experiences as a citizen journalist started at the 2000 Sydney Games.

"I managed to get accreditation at one of the media centres based solely on my credentials as someone who writes."

"Citizen journalism is, in my view, about people who are critical, reflective and engaged with society being given the privileged access that is typically reserved only for a few journalists.

"I think a broader range of critical commentators should have similar access, because they can make an important contribution within this new media world."

The predicted impact of social media, as Bond highlighted Bond earlier, will be part of #media2012's strength.

"The world is awash with social media content, what people need is some way of curating it to make sense.

"This is the kind of language we use – less editors, more curators. There's no doubt this will be the first Twitter Olympics for a Summer Games, but our hashtag #media2012 aims to filter content for people to watch, so they can get a community-led, focused insight into the games".

Beyond the sporting headlines

We believe that these other dimensions have equal merit and they must be covered to do justice to the Olympic missionProfessor Andy Miah
Part of the cause behind #media2012, which was first set up in 2010, was to "make a difference to how [London 2012] was remembered and understood", and it hopes to do that by establishing a new information feed focused on "content within the Olympic programme that is under-reported".

"We believe that these other dimensions have equal merit and they must be covered to do justice to the Olympic mission.

"We will focus on things like the London 2012 Festival, the Cultural Olympiad, the range of other events that stakeholders produce, but also some of the activities that happen underground, which can be controversial or challenging."

Collaboration with traditional media

While #media2012 aims to offer an alternative feed to traditional media, the wire is also keen to work with mainstream media journalists, especially those arriving in London without accreditation.

"It's important to stress that I believe citizen journalism is not wholly oppositional to professional journalism. Many professional journalists will come to London for the games without any accreditation and we want to help them find stories and learn from them."

He added that #media2012's activities so far have highlighted that "the link between citizen and professional journalism is crucial".

We need people who do this for a living in order to pursue stories we cannot. We are looking for a formal media partner, but this has not yet been confirmedProfessor Andy Miah
"We need people who do this for a living in order to pursue stories we cannot. We are looking for a formal media partner, but this has not yet been confirmed".

But the wire will also "expose aspects of the Olympic programme that typically go unheard", he added.

"The internet is the only global media producer at the games and this creates enormous opportunity to form new, diverse audiences.

"Our work will allow the full impact of the games to be understood, beyond what happens in the stadia".

The citizen journalists

Those reporting for #media2012 include students, artists and journalists, as well as teachers, athletes, film-makers and activists.

The structure of the mission means that within each of the seven regional sections of #media2012, organisation is overseen by an educational institution and a cultural institution.

We want to ensure that the places outside of London have a vehicle through which to create and share stories during the Games, so are creating media centres in some of the hubsProfessor Andy Miah
"We'd love to be UK wide, but we currently have strength in seven regions and nations - Scotland, North West, South West, London, East Midlands, West Midlands - I gather Wales may come online soon.

"We want to ensure that the places outside of London have a vehicle through which to create and share stories during the Games, so are creating media centres in some of the hubs.

"In Scotland, we have a project called Citizen Relay, which will take citizen reporters around the Olympic torch relay to document what happens outside of the BBC cameras' gaze."

Beyond 2012

And it seems that while the project is called #media2012, there are longer-term plans afoot.

"We're really looking beyond 2012.

"We already have links with Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016. This is not just a one-off thing for us, it's about how media change at the Olympics can foreground media change in society.

"Our next step is a campaign to encourage people to print out our #media2012 accreditation, include their details and wear it during the Games. This accreditation will provide them with a locus for support and a community during the Games, while also giving them confidence to report."

#media2012 has been shortlisted for the Pierre de Coubertin award for London 2012 which now goes to a public vote.

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