Morning MediaWire: Five things to get you up to speed for the Winter Olympics

February 9, 2018
Category: Newsletters

Here are five quick things to know as you take in the Winter Olympics from PyeongChang over the next two weeks.

LIVE! Prime-time viewers catch a break. Yes, Korea is more or less on the other side of the world.  But paradoxically this time difference is a very good thing for those of us who work by day and settle in to watch at night. PyeongChang is 14 hours ahead of EST. So a prime-time broadcast at 8 p.m can capture what's happening at 10 the next day. Many of the biggest skiing and figure skating events have been scheduled for live broadcast as a result. That means fewer irritating tape delays and no need for heroic measures to keep from spoiling the suspense by knowing the result in advance.

(That wasn't the case in Sochi in 2014 when 8.p.m EST corresponded to 4 a.m. there or even two years ago in Rio where 8 p.m. here was 11 p.m. local time).

An exception is today's opening ceremony, happening in real time as this is being posted but not running on broadcast — and on NBC's main coverage only — until tonight.

For events starting at other times of day, an assortment of live-streaming options are available (See below).

You go girl! This is the extended year of the woman, so why not for the Winter Olympics too? In NBC's America-centric coverage, the three biggest stars figure to be skiers Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn and young snowboarder Chloe Kim. Three of the four new events, several of which started Thursday in advance of the opening ceremony, are mixed teams of men and women.

Conversely it looks to be an off year for American men. Nathan Chen is a favorite in men's figure-skating; snowboarder Shaun White, now 31, is back for a fourth Olympics. But the NHL's decision not to let its players participate makes the U.S. team unlikely to contend.  (U.S. women's hockey is another story).  Other country's male skiers and speed skaters look stronger than U.S. entrants this time around.

Broadcasting team scrambled. Bob Costas announced his retirement to occasional senior contributor a year ago. All-sports anchor Mike Tirico succeeds him as prime-time host. Megyn Kelly isn't making the trip (a snub reports Fox News); instead Katie Couric, no longer under a full contract to NBC, has signed on to be Tirico's right-hand woman. The Today gang — minus Matt Lauer, of course — will be on hand. So will Nightly News host Lester Holt.

Among commentators, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will again be figure-skating leads with veteran Scott Hamilton now a senior special contributor and analyst. Bode Miller is lead alpine skiing analyst.

Because of the extended coverage, NBC sports has pretty much it's whole sports department reporting for duty.  Tennis commentator Mary Carillo will be doing travel features as she has been since 2008. Golf channel humorist David Feherty has a slot with unspecified duties. And Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be there to do features on speed skaters (because, hey, they go around curves fast, as do race cars).

Live-streaming options. What's a cord-cutter to do? Several NBC apps offer you-pick-the-event apps for live-viewing. Also secondary events will be shown on several of NBC's cable networks pretty much non-stop. The hitch is that you need a log-in from a cable subscription to get on the apps for free.

But that's not the end of the story for cable-cutters. The easiest, if not cheapest, option is to take out a short-term subscription to Sling, YouTube TV or another internet-based service. Those should run $25 to $45 for a month. Careful shoppers might score an applicable discount trial for a shorter period. The technically dexterous might figure a way to plug into an international broadcast where NBC's rights stranglehold is not as restricting.

Or you could buy an antenna if just watching the main NBC feed does it for you.

VR is available on several apps. And non-broadcasters will be trying social media coverage variations, such as The New York Times' Sam Manchester direct messaging those following the action on a smart phone. (Speaking of the Times, its hybrid video-graphic features on athletes such as Shiffren are informative and beautifully done.) 

BRRRR. Yes, it's cold in PyeongChang. The single-digit temperatures of this last week are  anomalous, but average for February is 23 degrees Fahrenheit. That will make for the coldest venue since Norway in 1994 or Lake Placid in 1980.

Reuters reports that during the worst of the cold snap skiers needed to junk their expensive equipment after a single-run because ice crystals were warping the skis.

And the cold isn't helping efforts to quell an outbreak of Norovirus running through the security dorm and among other Korean-based staff.

*  *   *

Some things do get better over time. Wall-to-wall viewing options now total 1,800 hours, and that means a hard-core curling enthusiast won't need to miss a single stone.

Quick hits

David Beard's takes on the newsy and notable

ANTI-DACA CARTOON PROMPTS APOLOGY: The editor of the Albuquerque Journal apologized for her paper’s publication of an editorial cartoon that New Mexico’s entire Congressional delegation branded as racist. The cartoonist, a onetime New York Post employee, prompted owner Rupert Murdoch to apologize in 2009 after a cartoon of a chimpanzee that many read as a racist representation of then-President Barack Obama.

THE WAR ON THE NYT — FROM THE LEFT: Is America’s most prestigious newspaper too slow to adapt to changing political norms? Is it complicit in President Trump’s election? These criticisms have been endorsed by grassroots liberals and center-left activists. But are they fair? “It’s a very neurotic relationship American liberals have with The New York Times, and that The New York Times has with American liberals,” NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen tells the New Republic.

GOODBYE, FACEBOOK: Stung by a drop in visits to its site via Facebook, Brazil’s largest newspaper said it will stop publishing articles on the giant social media site. The move reflects widespread dissatisfaction with an algorithm change by Facebook, Bloomberg reports. Folha de S. Paulo says it also is concerned the tweaks to Facebook’s news feed will lead to an increase is misinformation and disinformation.

NORTH KOREA NIGHTMARES: Concerned yet? A former NATO commander tells Vox’s Yochi Dreazen that he estimates the chances of a nuclear war at 10 percent — and puts at 20-30 percent the possibility of a conventional conflict that would kill more than 1 million people. Even worse — and rarely reported — is that the only way the Pentagon thinks it could stop North Korea’s nukes is by a ground invasion. Dreazen writes that despite some recent niceties, including joint Korean efforts at the Olympics, “it’s easy to imagine a misunderstanding or accidental run-in between the two skittish countries leading to a full-blown war.”

AN AUDIENCE OF ONE: Want to make a difference? “This is, quite literally, the most powerful job opening in the world,” tweets HuffPost political writer Igor Bobic. Apply here for … Head Writer of Fox & Friends. Yep, someone’s favorite TV show. “If you never get beat on a story,” the Fox News ad says, “have an eye for catchy stories and a passion for current events, this is the job for you.”

CATCHY, BUT FOX & FRIENDS-WORTHY?: She's dating the man who left the Trump White House after accusations he beat and choked his two ex-wives. She's part of the Mueller probe. Attention-phobic, White House communications director Hope Hicks finds herself in the middle of two scandals at once, writes CNN’s Brian Stelter.

SHIFTING MEDIA: In a new report, Wikimedia says its current contributors — disproportionately in North America and Europe — will not reflect the shift of the world’s population in the next dozen years. During that time, Africa will be the fastest-growing continent and Spanish will pass English as the world’s No. 2 most-spoken language. In case you’re wondering, Mandarin remains No. 1.

BEYOND THE 6 O’CLOCK NEWS: The Knight Foundation announced a $2.6 million initiative to five projects to upgrade local TV news. The support, writes Knight’s Karen Rundlet, extends to investigative and civic reporting, data journalism, change agent leadership, innovation projects and digital transformation. Recipients include Arizona State University, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Emma Bowen Foundation, Radio Television Digital News Association and the Carole Kneeland Project for Responsible Journalism.

ARE YOU A NAZI? That’s the question CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked a Holocaust denier and GOP candidate for a U.S. House seat in Illinois. “I call myself an American patriot and statesman,” replied Arthur Jones, the self-described former leader of the American Nazi Party. Jones, the only Republican who registered to run against Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski, has been denounced by the state Republican Party and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

A PIRATE LOOKS AT $550 MILLION: Onetime Billboard reporter and University of Southern Mississippi journalism grad Jimmy Buffett is, of course, known for other things. As his first Broadway musical prepares to open, businessman Buffett realized it lacked authenticity — and that he had to do some reporting in Key West to make it better. Specifically, he had to remember what it felt like to be living on spongecake. A nice weekend read by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.

NEWSEUM TO FOCUS ON HARASSMENT: Fresh off its Power Shift Summit held in early January, the museum announced the release of a report from the summit, as well as a new initiative going forward. Jill Geisler, a former Poynter faculty member and now the Bill Plante Chair in Leadership and Media Integrity at Loyola University Chicago, will lead what the Newseum is calling the Power Shift Project, which is designed to address the issue of sexual harassment in the media. 

New on

  • Poynter sat in on the earnings call for the New York Times Co., which reported that continued strong digital subscriptions carried it to another strong quarter.
  • The International Fact-Checking Network newsletter gave us an update on its meeting with Facebook. But more importantly, it filled us in on that "Lady Doritos" craze that swept the internet.
  • There's an update on that Report for America project: Eight more journalists have been chosen for newsrooms from Mississippi to New Mexico. 

What our Poynter people are up to

  • Today's the final day for Indira Lakshmanan's guest hosting gig at NPR's national current affairs call-in show “On Point” from WBUR in Boston. Tune in live online from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. or whenever it airs on your local NPR station.