Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dear Gymnastics Australia

How ya doin'.
Love that silk scarf action ya got goin' on there. Goes with the blazers. Keep it up.

Now, something's been on my mind of late. Something that concerns us two. You, an intangible governing 'body' represented by smartly-dressed corporeal beings who like to march in and out of places in lines... and Me. A university graduate with a laptop and dress sense best attributed to Kate Moss' lesser-talked-about mutant twin who sleeps in the basement on days ending in 'y'.

More than once I have addressed the issue of your 'news' platforms- the infrequent and insubtantial nature of media releases, the delays in updates and/or amendments to national squad details, the fact that more information in your weekly news updates is addressed to technical members and potential employees rather than enthusiasts, fans, participants or families - but now I come to realise how much my work with this blog has been influencing (that is: comprising) your content.

While I understand that GA's marketing and media teams have about as much weekly access to the AIS training facilities as I do (that is: none), I have indicated before that it is not impossible to take the time to seek other resources in order to learn of the team's progress at home or overseas. HOWEVER, and this is where I begin the ascent towards my primary concern, I ask that credit for such learning experiences go to where it is due.

I update this blog frequently, very frequently in fact. If the calendar is anything to go by, and several thousands of years of human calculation and sun-watching and time-taking and date-noting surely cannot be wrong, I'll often do it before a new week begins. Ergo, competition results and related media are posted on the weekend they were received, and not two days later.

I don't wish to 'big note' myself, I truly don't. But I believe in honest work. On numerous occasions, I will find (or have brought to my attention) an article about an Australian gymnast. Sometimes it is in an obscure overseas publication, sometimes it is in a national newspaper. Either way, I think people will want to read it therefore I post it. And in the ensuing week's GA news, what do I find? The article I posted or linked to. With national newspapers, it's a bit hard not to notice, and some things you can admit are a parent's or coach's submission; but small-town American newspapers are pretty tricky things to inadvertantly discover one of our gymnasts profiled in. Or, on other occasions, I find the EXACT link to a YouTube channel I'd posted myself having done the rounds of forums that, I am quite sure, GA wouldn't give the time of day to. When I have indicated that videos of particular performers could not yet be found (but promise bring them to light when they are), GA does the same thing, but tacks on "...at the time of release". Photo websites, profile pieces... if I raise them, you guys act like you found them first.

I understand that the Internet is a wily place where copyright or crediting or even mere kudos can be waved away with the flick of a hand. I understand the concept of circulating news and such and that it enters murky territory on the world wide web. But the fact that on numerous occasions specific things I have raised here have been brought up in GA updates frustrates me. Why? Because they have people getting paid to research and keep tabs on competitors and put it all into a brief weely column. But are they visiting Google and Getty and Newsphotos and YouTube and fan forums every day? Did they have five internet windows open, hopping between results during the Olympics so readers could get up-to-the-minute results and news on our team's progress? Are they the ones being supremely grateful to gym parents (and gymnasts themselves) who take the time to contact them and offer insightful news and other resources so gym fans and families can know what's going on with the superstar athlete? For no payment at all?

Don't get me wrong - I don't mind doing this for free and I don't expect mountains of praise while doing it. But I get annoyed that I am doing what must be considered a better job than a person (or persons) representing a nationally-recognised sporting body who also, I am sure, gets wonderful benefits from it (such as media accreditation) when all they're doing - save for taking photos off the podium and linking to erratic FIG newsletters - is leeching off me! Understandably I am not the one photographing the Olympic team being named in the AIS training gym. I'm not the one photographing old and new Olympians at awards nights. I certainly wasn't on the news update bandwagon [yet] when 2005 Worlds came to town. For that, I am trumped and I thank you for at least providing that. But I am one of the ones posting YouTube links. And links to overseas photographers. And newspaper snippets. And various other valuable sources that help us keep track of our gymnastics program.

I and many others couldn't give two Shushunova's what's going on with technical members or board members. Get yourselves an intranet for that, geez. This is a publicly recognised sport. With fans. And those fans want to know what's going on... from your perspective, not just mine, for yours is the perspective that has access to the athletes and their opinions. Furthermore, acknowledge amateur (I use that term in the nicest possible way) contributors who could add to your own materials. Brindabella's article on Tain M would've been a very interesting read for you guys to draw to the attention of, well, any WAG fan! Nade uploads some great finds recorded off the telly when I can't do it quick enough. Dudnik had gorgeous competition photos on show but you guys ran her out of town, so to speak. There are new gym-centric blogs and websites starting up every week, it seems, but you guys still have links to antiquated (or discontinued) fan websites for currently-retired gymnasts sitting unprettily in your Links tab.

Clearly you have someone reading this blog so please do me a big favour, GA: Either acknowledge this space and/or the individuals who provide sources (who I always ensure to credit because I couldn't do a lot of this without you guys) that you stick so enthusiastically on your weekly news spaces (at least ASK if you can use them! We credit you where it's needed!) or just give up all your damn news updates and laughably infrequent 'e-news' faffery and give us fans a shot at it ourselves. Heck, I'd probably do it for free. And I'm quite sure I'd scrub up ok with a corporate lanyard and non-prescription glasses.


Lady Geraldine Beaverhoffen
Supreme Gladiatrix of the Australian Gymnastics Blog.

Or, to you, Meredith.

PS: It's pronounced "Bayver-hooven".


Anonymous said...

I have to say, I've been thinking this to myself. It's like they hop on here and just lift the content for use in their latest news.

It was obvious with the DTB youtube embeds last week.

Mez said...

Not to mention the Massilia video channel. And various Friendship Classic articles that would have probably come out (online OR in print) while the girls were actually on their way home from the USA so I didn't put it down to their coach bringing it up.

The Couch Gymnast said...

Yay Mez! You give them what for!
Here's my contribution to saving us all from dying of boredom.
Dear Gymnastics Australia,
Please fire, or at least demote to assistant tea lady the peeps in charge of your news updates and just give Mez the job. She is clearly doing a kick- @#$ job, far better than the 98% ho-hum-sigh job being done now, then we could at least get some slightly more scintillating news than the latest judging course update. Also, please acknowledge your sources, I know i get the ego-annoys when people rip off my blog for ideas.
Thank you in anticipation of your enormously annoying beaurocratic co-operation. Sincerely, The Couch Gymnast

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. If we had someone like Mez in PR at GA, with such great journalistic ability and passion for gymnastics, we just might lift the sport's profile in this country and get more bums on seats at national events. I'm sure GA wouldn't knock back all that extra revenue!

Kathryn in NZ said...

And Mez darling sweetie, once you've sorted out GA's PR woes, could you please turn your talents to Gymsports NZ? Pleeeease!!

ps - love your blog (and the Couch Gymnast's)

Anonymous said...

Mez fro Prez!!

Mez said...

Kathryn, I love all things NZ (exceptyouguysbeatingusattheworldcupfinal) so thanks for your contribution.

Anon, I don't know about 'journalistic ability' as such. Does an Honours degree in Linguistics and top marks in year 11 English count?

Other Anon - that's a catchier slogan than Kevin07 and I didn't even vote for him. I like it.

mistysakura said...

Aside from kudos, which is awesome in itself, giving credit would raise the profile of this blog for less gym media savvy audiences. Maybe one day, so many people would know of this blog that it wouldn't matter that the GA site was useless any more. People could just come here and get everything they need. ...now that's a conspiracy theory if I ever saw one. The GA media person doesn't want to lose their job, so no credit to Mez :P

Mez said...

See, the thing is, I don't know how I'd feel about a larger audience for the blog. If I made a mistake, I'd have a much bigger populace rounding on me for it!

I'm just a news portal first and foremost. I don't know if GA has a counter on their site, but if they do I hope they see that (I find it likely that) less and less people are turning to their news tab because they're not going about it properly.

PS- I'd find it hilarious if it emerged that GA's marketing or media people had to hold crisis meetings because of this little lump of cyberspace. I'm not aiming for a revolution or unseating of GA, I ain't no activist. I just want them to sit up and take notice of what the spectators want for once!