Balloon Boy + Berlin 1936 – media coverage through the years

This past week I’ve been considering (again) how media is changing and whether or not it’s working for us. One of my clients has just opening an exhibit – More Than just Games; Canada and the 1936 Olympics. ( It is a fascinating look at Canada’s part in the Olympics held in Nazi Germany during the rise of the Third Reich. Of course in 1936 there were few media voices. So even when a reporter had a strong warning – as then Toronto Star’s Matthew Halton did about Hilter’s activities – this voice was not widely heard.

In striking contrast we have last week’s balloon boy brouhaha. Anyone who wanted to had a voice. And video. And 140 characters to update, pray, comment, update, worry and wonder. For hours we were subjected to minute-by-minute musings. Meantime new media pundits were doing high fives about how technology meant social media had streaked past traditional media in getting us the scoop.

All I’m saying is, like the silver balloon, maybe we need to come down softly somewhere in the middle. The paucity of voices at the 1936 Olympics limited debate but thousands of comments on YouTube videos and tweets zipping through the ether for hours don’t tell a story well either. Let’s blend the best of old with the best of new – and just get along.


6 responses to “Balloon Boy + Berlin 1936 – media coverage through the years

  1. Nice take on this. It would be nice to come to some middle ground. I found the initial swarm of tweets on the Swine Flu did nothing but frustrate me – and likely feed into everyone’s panic about this issue. I love “new media” but it’s certainly not perfect.

  2. Appreciate your comment, Monica. We do sometimes get carried away with communication, I agree.

  3. Should we as individuals not take some responsibility for how we work the media?Sometimes these “balloon boy” events permit voyeurs to adopt A Second Life during their own mundane existence. Perhaps we should all get back to our own real lives. Media will then adjust.

  4. I agree, Ross, the things people pay attention to in the media make me want to bellow – get a life. But do you think media adjust to what we do, or do they set the agenda and we traipse along behind?

  5. I would love to say that they adjust to what we do, but that would make me wonder if I am saying that just because I want it to be true.
    I think alot of folks are schlepping, sadly.

  6. Last week a CBC reporter told me they often debate whether they’ll provide the audience what CBC or the staff think the audience “should” watch – or give them what they want to watch. I was pleased to hear this topic is being batted about in newsrooms anyway.

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