Google Down the Line!: (UPDATED) Roland Garros officials ban posting of transcripts - isn't that called 'censorship'?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

(UPDATED) Roland Garros officials ban posting of transcripts - isn't that called 'censorship'?

I'm pissed. If you read this blog during the majors then you know I usually do a post called 'HE SAID/SHE SAID'. It's pretty popular with readers. Personally, I find it interesting to read through the post-match transcripts and pull quotes I think you guys might find interesting/funny/insightful/whatevah. And, usually, the quotes aren't the ones the mainstream media pulls for their stories because they 1) are going to be everywhere anyway 2) usually don't give you a real feel for the baller's personality and quirks. They're standard. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't serve the purposes of this blog or give you guys anything new to explore.

After the first day of play I went to the usual place on the RG site to begin reading transcripts. All I came up were the videos which had been edited. I thought they would post later, but when I went back to check they were not there. Next day, the same, and so on. Well, today, it came to light that the International Tennis Writers Association (ITWA) and a number of journalists sent in a request to the Roland Garros tourney organizers to stop posting the transcripts on their website. AND THEY COMPLIED. The blog Any Given Surface has a nice write-up about it and, in the comments sections, posted a email response from Sandra Harwitt, a member of the ITWA, explaining her views on the issue.

Of course, it got really REAL on Twitter with people completely and understandably outraged, including myself, about this action. Even the journos heard it from everyone with one, in particular, have a bit of a meltdown.

To me, this is censorship - a handful of people deciding what the masses get to read/hear about in the pressers. We're all getting screwed.

Listen, I understand there aren't many journos/media being sent to tourneys due to the economic times. So if this is the case, wouldn't it makes sense to find another way to get the interviews/quotes out such as feeding them to smaller websites, bloggers, social media outlets, etc.? Or what about a 24/48 hour embargo on the transcripts? How would either of these options hurt the tourney? But, in the end, it's all about control of information. The mainstream media want to horde the quotes for their own means and decide what we, the fans, get to read. Apparently, if others get to utilize the transcripts then their jobs will be in danger by - gasp! - a blogger or a tweeter. So they make a request to ban it all together and the RG tourney agrees. You know, compromise is usually a better option than censorship.

UPDATE: Here's the what the RG site said - "We are very sorry, we have been asked by the International Tennis Writers Association not to release transcripts of post-match interviews this year, so as not to disadvantage reporters here at the French Open. You can find many of the relevant quotes in the articles posted on our website." There's been talk they may change their decision because of all of the complaints.

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  1. Yeah man...
    that sucks big time!
    I reported that on the survey I was asked to fill in.

    What if you cannot see videos ...

    I actually prefer reading the interviews.

  2. And the videos have been edited - so we don't get the entire thing. But I think it's besides the point. The ITWA and those other journos specifically requested a ban on the transcripts. They're trying to control e.g. censor that stream of information. Wrong.

  3. I think they're more afraid of losing their trips to Paris to cover it in person than losing their jobs. The truth is, they could report from their living rooms if transcripts were online, if they had to, and news organizations would probably love to save some money on sending reporters around the world. Great post, thank you for summarizing the action and getting the word out there. Love your blog.

  4. Thanks. Very good point - yes, if need be they could do their job from their couch. And, if many of these news outlets aren't sending their reporters around the world then they're relying on the transcripts like me. So maybe I am taking that job since it's what I do most of the time, too: Sitting in my parent's basement reading transcripts all day.

  5. I posted this on Twitter earlier this morning: "My non-blogger, just-a-fan-opinion that nobody asked for: Agreement for all tournaments in this digital age has always been a 24-48 hour delay for said transcripts so that accredited journalists can hit their deadlines and readers first. To control ALL information being released to anybody in the public sector (fans and bloggers alike) smacks of both censorship and elitism." As you can see, I agree with you 100%. It will be interesting to see how this plays out at other tournaments...

  6. how can you contact the french open to complain?

  7. RG site:

    Twitter: @RolandGarros, @RolandGarrosEN (english)

  8. Rich,

    Good post on the controversy. Not sure if you've seen the film "The Boys are Back" with Clive Owen but in the film he plays a tennis journo, who, because he's trying to take care of his kids, actually pretends to cover the AO live, but is actually stuck at his house.

    As far as the ban goes, this has been expected for awhile but I agree that maybe after three days, it shouldn't be a problem to post the transcripts on the RG site. We'll see what happens.

  9. this is bull especially with many reporters' knack of editing and misinterpreting players' statements to weave their own story. for instance, last year at wimbledon federer was made to appear a sore loser to berdych in many articles but when i read the transcripts there was really nothing wrong with what fed said. and again jus the other day some articles featured fed to be "complaining" unreasonably about the balls, when in fact not only he has said something the balls, the untimely changing of which is really strange.


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