A Tale of Two Sochis

5 Feb

waterRussia is prepared for the GamesVladimir Putin.

Gorgeous day here at the Sochi Olympic Park! − NBC Olympics

My hotel has no water. If restored, the front desk says, “do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous.”Stacy St. Clair, Chicago Tribune.

The games have yet to begin, but NBC is already showing just how big its happy blinders are. Journalists descending on Sochi are filling Twitter and their publications with half-laughing, half-crying reports of how terribly unprepared Sochi is for its moment on the world stage.

BugThe extent of the problems broke into the spotlight Tuesday afternoon when The Washington Post‘s blog cataloged many of the complaints posted on Twitter. There were rooms not ready, and we’re not talking beds not made. More like rooms not built. Others had no water, no sinks, and holes in the floors.

But the ultimate post came from the Tribune’s St. Clair, who posted a picture of what came out of her tap. A short time later she posted an update:

You’d think NBC would be all over this story, what with its massive crew blanketing Sochi even more than the snow. BBC Sports, which is another official network of the Sochi games, tackled the issue within hours of the story breaking. It quoted International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach as saying he was aware of the problems and working to solve them:

“I have some traveling experience and I know how embarrassing it is when you arrive after a long flight and your room is not ready,” Bach told the BBC.
“The IOC has traveled with the organizing committee to the mountains to try to help and address the situation.”

One reporter from CNN went so far as to tweet a plea to the president of the Sochi organizing committee: “@DChernyshenko Our media hotel is not ready Dmitry….11 rooms booked five months ago, only one ready. Please help.”

Amazingly, the response was…turn your back on the problems and enjoy the view. No, really—check it out:

So what did NBC report? *insert sound of crickets chirping, loudly*

2014-02-05_8-12-22There is not a single mention over at NBC Olympics. In fact the only semi-critical story of Sochi anywhere on NBC’s sites is a report from Richard Engel about the risk of hackers for people logging on from the Olympics. That seems to presume visitors will be able to get into their rooms AND get on wifi.

The network’s social media feeds are packed with pictures of smiling, happy people and beauty shots of the venues. And while other news outlets are reporting how Sochi hired an exterminator to round up and “dispose” of stray dogs, NBC was tweeting a picture of an athlete holding a cute and cuddly puppy.

I’m sure this isn’t an effort by the network to blow sunshine in an effort to build audience. Maybe its reporters wanted to post about the problems but couldn’t, because their rooms weren’t ready.

About Project TILWO — I watch Sochi 2014 Olympic coverage on TV and online then share the lessons I learn, with occasional help from my friends. Edited by Lynn Hess @ Premier Proofing.