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Many journalists love our athletes, many others love controversy

This is an update on a Sochi post that is worth repeating. The Road to Rio has not been without hiccups, that’s for sure. The International Paralympic Committee courageously made a statement that supports clean and fair sport in our movement. This did generate some media attention and requests for interviews.Once I sent a clear statement in a press release, the interview requests fizzled out. No controversy to be had from me, no dirt on other countries or organizations. I have all the time in the world to speak about our athletes, staff and volunteers though, and I will take these calls!

Here is the original blog post from the Sochi Games.

In the days leading to the games, while out team was already in Sochi preparing, I received numerous requests for interviews. The routine was something like this: 1- a pre-interview with the journalist or producer then 2- the actual interview. The first couple ended up being quite disappointing. The only questions were about security and about a potential boycott.

So I became more insistent that we talk about the sports and the athletes and several requests evaporated, but others remained. One such interview, after a good prep exchange started with: “I’ve just talked to a security expert and he tells me it’s not safe to bring the athletes to Sochi”. Of course at that point I have a camera on me so I have to deal with it. I did feel tricked though. I saw that interview later. Everything about the athletes had been cut and the security expert – who did not look particularly like an expert in security to me, got airtime.

On newspaper journalist went as far as calling for a boycott. I checked him out and his duties at that largest of Canadian newspapers included amateur international sport. A few clicks later I was able to determined he’d never written anything about Paralympic sport before. When I poked him on Twitter during the games, he made it clear that he had no intention of writing anything else either. That would be like me telling you to go off your cardiac medication on a whim and without any effort to find out useful information.

One wonders if there is a journalistic equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath, and if there was, I would imagine that it would say that journalists must inform their viewers without any biases, and only express a point of view if they have expertise on the topic and have done their research. I found a few versions (including the one on the picture dating back to the early 20th century) but no universal statement.

Luckily, we had people in Sochi who were truly interested and gave our athletes the exposure they deserve. And I want to thank them for their effort and their support. Their heart and their ethics are in the right place.

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