The UK Observer’s readers editor Stephen Pritchard responded to reader complaints that the newspaper has given too much coverage and attention to the 2012 Olympics held in London. Also, Pritchard compared the Observer‘s coverage in 2012 with its coverage of the 1948 Olympics, which were also held in London. In an August 1, 1948 issue, the Observer didn’t report on the Olympics until the newspaper’s fifth page and even there, “any real reporting and results were confined to two columns on one sports page,” he noted.
For example, readers complained that the Observer let the Olympics overshadow other news like “civil war in Syria, starvation in Africa and an economic crisis in Europe,” but Pritchard argued of the Olympics that “crucially, it’s a good news story.”
Pritchard argued that international news stories aren’t being ignored and pointed to the newspaper’s website:
“The contention that important news stories are demoted to make way for the Olympics does not hold online. While in the newspaper other news starts on page 19, the flexibility of the web allows for much more sophisticated editing. A glance at observer.co.uk last week, for example, shows that the battle for Aleppo, child-trafficking in India and a host of other important topics shared equal billing with the Olympics.”
And, Pritchard highlighted that readers are buying the Olympic coverage, citing a 6% increase in newspaper sales and millions of “average daily page views.”
Meanwhile, Washington Post readers complained because the newspaper’s website featured “spoilers” about the Olympics on its home page, given NBC’s tape delay of many events, the newspaper’s public editor, Patrick Pexton, reported.
Pexton noted that the Post and “most major news websites” did try to make it so readers would have to click through links to find out the results of games and “results were taken out of the subject line of e-mail alerts,” but defended the Post coverage.
Pexton wrote that he agreed with Washington Post sports editor Matt Vita’s explanation of its coverage: “We treat the Olympics as a news event, not entertainment, and we cover them as we would any other news event” and as such, the Post would “be doing a disservice to our readers…to hold results back or pretend in some way that they were not yet known to us.”
We wrote in August when public editor Sylvia Stead weighed in on reader critiques of the Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail’s Olympic coverage.
Check out all our stories on the Olympics.