So what SHOULD the Media guidelines be for reporting marathon swimming?

loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
edited October 2012 in General Discussion
From an excellent suggestion by @JenA...

* How should the media report marathon swims?

* Should the starting position be to state what the generally accepted English Channel rules are, and how they relate to global marathon swimming?

* What are the local exceptions to EC rules that apply for specific swims?

* The person reporting should state any vested interest in the swim as observer, (whether independent or otherwise), or organiser.

* Independent observers must be actually verified to be independent and what criteria they are operating against.

loneswimmer.com

Comments

  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    If the intention is to do this publicly, it may make more sense to create a "Guidelines for Reporting a Marathon Swim" document on OpenWaterPedia, and have the discussion collected on the [discussion] tab there. I suspect it would involve less scrolling and better idea tracking to have all the, say, "official distance" discussions collected under a similar heading.

    Hmm... would love to see a "Qualifications, Duties, and Restrictions of an Independent Observer" document, too. :)
    StLucia_Channel
  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    The media should offer a categorized list of whatever artificial aids were used. Assume everyone uses a cap, goggles, lube, sunscreen, and a support boat. I think we could also ignore nose clips and ear plugs. After that, list what they used. For example:

    Performance aids
    -Wetsuit
    -Speed suit
    -Snorkel
    -Paddles
    -Fins

    Protection from the elements
    -Suit that provides additional protection from the elements (sun, jellyfish, etc.) without providing extra warmth, buoyancy or speed advantage
    -Wetsuit (also included in the performance aid section)
    -More than one cap
    -Neoprene cap
    -Pouring hot water on the swimmer

    Pacing aids
    -Pace swimmer
    -Tandem swimmer
    -MP3 Player
    -Tempo Trainer
    -Garmin on the swimmer

    Touching solid "ground"
    -Touching the boat
    -Hanging on the boat
    -Pushing off the boat
    -Standing up in shallow water
    -Touching another person
    -Getting in the boat to wait out a shark sighting
    -Getting in the boat for medical attention, sunscreen application, changing suits, etc.
    -Swimming in stages (i.e. sleeping on the boat)
    -Tethering the swimmer to an anchor so he/she can sleep in the water without risk of drifting away.

    Navigation
    -Streamers

    There's no need for the media to make a big judgement on whether these things are kosher. Just give people enough information to know exactly what was the athletic feat being accomplished.

    In addition to artificial aids, the media should report
    -Water temperature
    -Air temperature
    -Currents
    -Point-to-point distance
    -Weather conditions
    -Start and finish time. Make it clear if all or part of the swim took place in the dark.
  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    @Niek: while I *do* live right on the Atlantic Ocean and have tremendous passion for OWS, I'm in Canada. :) Bit of a commute, that. :)

  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    edited August 2012
    Niek wrote:
    So shouldn't be there a standard fact sheet provided containing the following facts:
    Name/age swimmer(s), swim stroke, name observer(s), name pilot, name boat, sanctioning organization/rules, distance as the crow flies, (average) water temps, (average) air temps, (average) current(s)/tide, weather, with/without wet-suite, marine live encountered, stroke rate, feedings.
    The person reporting should state any vested interest in the swim as observer, (whether independent or otherwise), or organiser.

    I think reporting distance is more complicated than measuring A to B "as the crow flies".

    Currents can be timed to give a tremendous advantage that makes the "as the crow flies" distance misleading. Take, for example, the inaugural Little Red Lighthouse Swim (1998) where all swimmers finished the 7.8 miles between 1h07 and 1h40. Pretty impressive, unless you know the Hudson. :)
    Bridget
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    @WaterGirl - great stuff.

    I agree it's important to educate journalists who report on open water swimming - especially about the very context-specific meaning of words such as unassisted. But I also think swimmers - especially swimmers who are themselves members of the media - bear some responsibility in describing their own feats.

    If you want to make up your own rules, fine - just be honest about what you're doing. It's not an "unassisted" swim if you're hanging on your support boat.
  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    Bump.

    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    I know I posted this link in some other thread, but here it is again. I took many of the ideas people put forward in terms of documenting a swim, and collected them in a document.

    https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=C5BDDA4EF65680B2!119&authkey=!APNtdPAmSu2hCGA

    (It should have 5 pages; if you only see one, try a different browser.)

    I think I ran it by some in the OWS community, but I don't recall who! (This was nearly a year ago.)
  • brunobruno Barcelona (Spain)Member

    Controversy about Bellamy's Sta Lucia swim https://forum.marathonswimmers.org/discussion/2041 , and @ssthomas ' 4-way EC, made me review this thread. I'm sure we all agree that media, general public and fellow swimmers should be educated in how different an assisted and an unassisted swims are.

    Probably we should be more proactive in doing so. The question is how...

    Could we join efforts? Have a template of a paragraph to add to any text (FB, blogs, press notes...)? Do talks before swim events? Anything which might help stress on how specific an unassisted swim is.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member
    edited September 26

    After having dealt with the media more in the past week than I ever have in the past- I have to say- it can be daunting. For example, I've told every single reporter that my swim was 84 miles. They still insist on calling it 130 because that's what the tracker said. It's more sensational. I've almost gotten tired of trying to correct and explain that it's only 84 miles. Somewhere, someone got the idea that I swam the Channel 2 other times before this one, instead of only the once in 2012. Oftentimes, I'm seeing that in an article where I even spoke to the reporter and told them the correct info- and it still gets misreported. I'm grateful for coverage for our sport, but I'm pretty much convinced that the quality of reporting is based off of the attention to detail of the reporter. There's no way to control what they might read somewhere else and repeat, without checking facts. I've given a few TV interviews where the news anchors assumed I was in a wetsuit- it's impossible to account for their pre-conceived biases and perceptions. I honestly think the best we can do is to correct and educate the best we can, but be nice to other swimmers when things still end up wrong. I know first hand now how little control I have over a lot of things being reported.

    BogdanZMvGCopelj26SoloPaigeKiedingSara_WolflakesprayBridgetKatieBuncurlyand 6 others.
  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    SO many unintended bits of misinformation. . . ;-) The "official" vs "tracker" distances are interesting as a way of illustrating that currents count. I think I'm the last hold-out in swimming saying "two lengths is ONE lap" ;) And when I swam to Ticonderoga, one headline said I was a hometown girl- nobody local would think that, although I bought a house here five years ago. One local sportscaster mentioned Sarah had "trained" in Lake Champlain, even after being told- and reporting at the time- that it was a world record swim- but hey, if anyone is going to see a Hundred and Four mile swim as "training", Sarah likely is the first to come to mind. . .

    curly
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited September 26

    @ssthomas said: I honestly think the best we can do is to correct and educate the best we can, but be nice to other swimmers when things still end up wrong.

    Sarah makes a great point - the media often get stuff wrong through no fault of the swimmer. So it's essential to provide complete and accurate information, as much as possible, in our own communications (press releases, social media posts, etc.). Sarah's swims have been shining examples of this.

    It's more problematic when swimmers offer vague, incomplete, or misleading information in their own communications. In these cases, it's very unlikely that the media will get it right. Even the most knowledgeable people - fellow marathon swimmers - may misunderstand the nature of the swim.

    Worst of all is when the observers of a swim, who may have funded their own travel, are in the dark about certain aspects of the swim - e.g., plans to use nonstandard equipment. This is quite different from media misreporting, and should not get a pass.

    curlyPaigeKiedingStLucia_ChannelMvGssthomas
  • StLucia_ChannelStLucia_Channel Saint Lucia Member

    @evmo said:

    Worst of all is when the observers of a swim, who may have funded their own travel, are in the dark about certain aspects of the swim - e.g., plans to use nonstandard equipment. This is quite different from media misreporting, and should not get a pass.

    I can wholeheartedly agree with this statement.

    evmoMvG
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
    edited September 27

    As a member of the media and a swimmer and having been frontline witness to the media onslaught Sarah endured after her swim, I feel like I can sum up the situation as a crap shoot. You never know which story is going to be great and which one is going to end up sucking, despite every advantage.

    Case in point, we arranged a lengthy sit-down interview with The Telegraph. That's one of the more august publications in the UK. The reporter produced a poorly written, sexist, and sadly misfocused story that highlighted the wrong elements. The published piece read like a Daily Mail article - that's the kind of paper you line a birdcage with. I later learned that the new editor overseeing that section of The Telegraph indeed used to be a top dog at the Daily Mail. I'm not giving that reporter a pass, because I think he probably did a lousy job, but editors play a big role too in how the final piece turns out. They often have far less contact or familiarity with the subject and material than the author. Editors and even headline writers often come in after the story is filed and the writer no longer has any say in what happens and highlight whatever they think will sell the most of that publication or drive the most clicks. Often, it's not the real story.

    Bottom line: the best we can do as swimmers is patiently educate anyone who will listen. It's frustrating. But I think the fact that Sarah's swim has garnered such widespread and intense attention is actually a very good thing for the sport, even if some of the articles haven't hit the mark.

    StLucia_ChannelKatieBunMvGrosemarymintKate_AlexanderKarl_Kingerylakespraydpm50Stephenthelittlemerwookieand 6 others.

    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...
    https://elainekhowley.com/

  • flystormsflystorms Memphis, TNMember

    @evmo would it make sense to put out a template press release, like you did with the observer log, that has some of the minimum talking points about the sport? The swimmer then could fill in the rest of the story/press release. At least at that point, there's a common/standard message about MSF, marathon swimming and the like.

    Kate_Alexanderdpm50MvGIronMikerosemarymintevmo
  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member

    @flystorms said:
    @evmo would it make sense to put out a template press release, like you did with the observer log, that has some of the minimum talking points about the sport? The swimmer then could fill in the rest of the story/press release. At least at that point, there's a common/standard message about MSF, marathon swimming and the like.

    I really like this idea. I am a former member of the mainstream media and I also am now in a career where message consistency for the media is a giant ball of very angry complicated worms and I've gotten to a point where something like this would be so helpful. Maybe it could be part of observer resources or swim planning resources. Not everyone will use it, clearly, but if enough start doing it, it becomes part of the standard info for a story that hopefully more reporters than not would use.

    evmoIronMikeLakeBaggerKate_Alexander
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