90 PA staff to cover 'every minute' of 2012 Games

The Press Association has said that it aims to have at least one reporter covering every minute of every event at next year’s London 2012 Olympic Games.

There has been growing controversy in recent weeks after it emerged that of the 400 UK press accreditations available for the Games just a handful have been allocated to regional newspapers.

As host news agency, PA has been allocated a total of 90 press passes, which are not included in the 400 figure.

While the numbers have not yet been finalised, the breakdown of staff is roughly as follows:

  • Reporters (including sport and news reporters, news editors, video editors, results/(data editors) – 61
  • Photographers – 20
  • Technicians – 3
  • Video journalists – 6.

PA, which has also been appointed host agency for the Paralympics, is keen to note that many of its reporters are “multi-skilled” and will be equipped to take photos and shoot video.

PA’s coverage will be done entirely by staff journalists and it will not be drafting in freelances. “This is perhaps the most important thing we will do, certainly in my time here,” Olympics editor Scott Dougal told Press Gazette. “We need to have staff we are familiar with and know their work.”

Dougal said that PA’s aim is to have “at least one reporter at every venue for every minute of the competition”. He was also keen to reassure local newspapers who are concerned PA will only be interviewing the likes of Chris Hoy and Rebecca Adlington, insisting that they will also be covering “the athletes who finish 23rd or 33rd”.

He added: ‘It may be that we take the decision, when there’s one local paper interested in one individual athlete, that we just work with that newspaper to feed them copy.

‘That’s a relationship that we have with our partners, we talk with them daily about what they require and we do our best, whether that’s sport or anything else that PA covers.”

Another issue raised by local titles in recent weeks was that not all of them subscribe to PA.

‘That’s absolutely something we’re looking into,’said Dougal, adding: ‘We’re not sure yet about the terms or how it would work exactly because we don’t know the technology at the other end.”

While Dougal has sympathy for local papers that lost out on accreditation, he also points to the British Olympic Association’s efforts to provide access for papers without press passes.

This includes a media area for non-accredited journalists which will host one-to-one interviews and press conferences, and dedicated press officers for every sport.

Dougal also anticipates numerous off-site sponsor-led events where non-accredited titles will be able to get access to athletes.

PA has been planning its coverage for the best part of six years.

It has dedicated correspondents for most Olympic sports, who have been honing their skills with PA’s increased coverage of Olympic sports since Beijing in preparation for London 2012.

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