"Your mascots are worse than our mascots… And… and… YOU SMELL!"

There’s nothing like the sweet tang of revenge and Canada’s National Post is in gleeful form after the London 2012 Olympic mascots were revealed, with no less than four articles dedicated to poking fun:
Olympic mascots: Who’s laughing now, London? 

and, finally,
Although I’m not picking on the National Post here – I think a Copyright: All Media is probably appropriate given that most newspapers took time out to laugh at the new mascots. But it did strike strick me than two long articles and two galleries dedicated to some not-very-interesting-news was taking piqued national pride a little far. 

But then, the grievance had been treasured up for a couple of months: I was skiing near Whistler during the opening of the 2010 games and the world’s media (including Canada’s) were reporting fears that this year’s Games would be green for all the wrong reasons.
At Whistler, the base is often rainy and snowfree but higher up is snowsure, and snow was being helicoptered in for the low-lying cross-country trails.

TV broadcasters (US, Canadian, UK) set up camp on the snow-lite base and reporters employed patented black-edged voices to deliver doomy reports about the lack of snow. Which was followed – within days of the opening ceremony – by doomy black-edged voice reports about too  much snow affecting the downhill.

Personally I thought the 2010 games were immense, and the whole country seemed to throw itself behind the Olympics. Their mascots were ok – they really weren’t great though, and I speak as someone who bought all three for my (distinctly underwhelmed) young nieces. Apparently they were derieded by the UK press – a quick search failed to throw up any articles but I can well believe there was some sneering.

Now Canada’s press is having its revenge and loving every minute, and it’s all done in the grandest tradition of journalism; there is nothing that exists that we can’t mock or knock in some way. Apart from, maybe, Stephen Fry – everyone seems to love him. 

The same thing happened in Liverpool when the city won Capital of Culture. I think now we can all acknowledges it was an overwhelming success, but the tired old cliches -stolen hubcaps, trackies, ‘calm down, calm down’ and (of course) the ‘Festival of Litter’ were bandied around by UK press who seemed determined not to let Liverpool succeed (Sunday Times Culture section, I’m looking at you).

When we can’t inform, we editorialise – frequently in a way that diminishes us in some way. The Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius – Swifter, Higher, Stronger. Maybe newspapers should consider a universal motto of their own – Inrideo, Duco, Minutum.

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About Alison Gow

I'm a journalist, particularly interested in story-telling, networks and digital innovation.
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