Journalism becomes a sport in Sochi

Journalism becomes a sport in Sochi

Journalism becomes a sport in Sochi


by DAVE WAGNER / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @WagnerWCNC

Posted on February 20, 2014 at 5:44 PM

SOCHI, Russia -- It is a cavernous building. More than 519,000 square feet, it’s seven times bigger than Red Square in Moscow. During the Olympics, the International Broadcasting Center is home to NBC News, NBC Sports and thousands of journalists from all over the world.

Bob Horner from NBC News Channel in Charlotte is one of 24 from the Queen City.

“These events are probably the hardest events to plan of all the things we do,” he says.

News Channel is an NBC service that delivers video to affiliates worldwide.

“This one for some reason was hard to plan. I’m still trying to analyze it. I think Sochi is hard to get to,” Horner says.

About 6,000 miles away from home, this is a self-sufficient newsroom, covering everything from the athletes to the unexpected. That includes the Olympics polar bear mascot getting its head stuck in an SUV. A News Channel photographer shot the video.

“We were a little surprised at how popular that was. I mean, here we had video of you [talking to NBC Charlotte’s Dave Wagner] we could have shown, but somehow the bear was even more popular. I haven’t worked that out yet,” laughs Horner.

The Today Show set up shop outside of the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

“I think the only thing you don’t have right here is the kind of look, feel and culture of Russia,” Matt Lauer tells Dave. But up in the mountains, Dave found more NBC journalists, like Willie Geist.

“And this to me has the real Olympic feel. Ya know, there’s a little village up here,” Willie says.

The Olympic Broadcasting Service is shooting every minute of every sport. The video is distributed to stations around the globe.

The international journalists are showing off their pride. Those from the Netherlands are plastering their door with the name of their medalists, and there are plenty. It’s been a Dutch treat in Sochi during the games. The cameras and media are flocking to all winners, though. Just ask Team USA’s T.J. Oshie.

“Tell me how your life has changed in the past two days here.” – DW

“Besides all the media, not much.” – TO

Even the media became part of the story. Russian State Television actually interviewed NBC Charlotte’s Dave Wagner, asking about his perception of Sochi security.

Some media outlets are looking beyond the 2014 games. Seoul Broadcasting System is preparing for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.

“We have to deliver the most exciting event to our viewers,” one of the organizers tells Dave.

One thing is true for all journalists in Sochi: you can count the hours of sleep per night on one hand. Three, four, or maybe five hours, if they’re lucky. Sleep will wait until coverage is over.