Covering London 2012: 'Sleep will be a rare commodity' - Press Gazette

Covering London 2012: 'Sleep will be a rare commodity'

Jacquelin Magnay, Olympics Games editor, The Telegraph

For most journalists covering London 2012, once the Games start, it's easy. The schedule is defined, you know what's on and it's a very clear programme of events. Therefore it's fairly straightforward to plan what you're going to cover and when.

In the lead-up to the Games however, the focus is very much on non-sporting activity. It's the politics around the Games that take centre stage. You have the politics of the IOC and the Olympic Movement; you have pressure from the Government about whether the Games will be pulled off without a hitch.

And while some of those political stories will overlap with the sport, it's quite remarkable how quickly the focus turns to sporting performance.

As with every Olympics, once the sport starts there'll be some dramatic stories to tell.

There will probably be five key moments from the Games, that you can't predict, but they won't necessarily be five gold medal-winning moments.

As a journalist, you need to train for the Olympics almost as much an athlete does. And that means being fit, to be as rested as possible before the Games start and when they do, it's important to pace yourself.

Keir Radnedge, sports writer

The Olympic Games is a unique circus constructed to a specific and evolutionary pattern dictated by the IOC.

Long-time Olympic journos coming here will understand how to work the Games better than many home-based journos. But covering London 2012, for UK journos, will be a unique experience.

I think the big challenges for journalists covering London 2012 will be transport and trying to make their office-based desk colleagues understand the problems out ‘in the field.'

Simply travelling from one hotel and/or venue to another while undergoing the necessary logistical demands takes far longer than any impatient sports editor can ever understand.

I've always thought internet access should be free within the ‘precincts' of all major sports event. At least London 2012 charges are significantly below the rates in Beijing and Vancouver. But the IOC needs to get a grip: it's the journos from small, developing countries who are hit the worst yet these are the places where the IOC want to spread their message.

James Toney, managing editor, Sportsbeat

Before a major competition, athletes taper, which basically means they take it easy, put their feet up and conserve all their energy for the main event. If only journalists on the Olympic beat could do the same.

By the time you've filed from the opening ceremony, attended the subsequent media briefing and got back to your hotel, it will be 2am at the earliest. The men's road race starts the following day at 9am and you need to be there by 8am to grab a seat near a television – venue media centres are always crammed and the prospect of the first British gold will guarantee early risers.

So get used to the fact that sleep will be a rare commodity for these two weeks and be prepared to grab it where you can.

Try to eat well, which means avoiding the McDonalds in the main press centre, and don't drink too much – although LOCOG have helpfully built two bars named after sportswriters and Heineken are an official supplier.

Access to cabled internet during the Games will cost £150 for the Olympics only and more again for the Paralympics. It's a lot of money but, unfortunately, it's the only way to guarantee stress-free filing. Judging by attending test events with a lot less people, wireless dongles are just too flaky.

Nick Hope, BBC Olympic and Paralympic sports reporter

Although knowing your sports and the key athlete stories is essential, one of the most important parts of pre-Games preparation is getting fit.

I'm no Olympic athlete, but past experience working on major events has proved that you need to be prepared for pushing your body. Long hours, high pressure, little sleep and an often poor diet. You need to look after yourself before and during the Games.

Time management is really vital to covering the Games successfully – not only meeting deadlines, which will be fastpaced when there are so many other journalists competing to get news out first – but also getting around venues which, when you're carrying equipment, won't be a quick process.

When it comes to technology, none of us really know what's actually going to happen when 80,000 people start trying to tweet or upload footage of the men's 100m final – but we need to be prepared for the unexpected.