Olympic whitewash

While China has 31 journalists in jail – more than any other country – the Chinese Government has ‘pledged to temporarily relax limits on foreign journalists’ reporting on the 2008 Olympics, according to PR Watch. It has declined to extend the new freedoms to its domestic journalists, however. For a gentler approach to media control, the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee has put global PR firm Hill & Knowlton on retainer to help present a good image of China to the rest of the world, while Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide has been conducting training sessions on media relations for local government. ‘I think it is a part of the process of reform for them,’ said the president of Ogilvy’s China office. Sun Weide is the Beijing Olympics Committee’s ‘message man’ who works extensively with Hill & Knowlton. He stresses that: ‘The Olympic charter says very clearly that the Games are about sports, not politics.’ In other words, keep the reporting to what happens on the playing field.

mag cover This article is from the March 2007 issue of New Internationalist.
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