Following the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games IAEJ has decided to put together a few comments and considerations on the press service. These notes are meant to represent ‘lessons learnt’ for the organisers of major events. It is the goal of the IAEJ to distribute them to the FEI and the organisers.
Generally speaking the service was average and several media complained. The major problem was the lack of care and attention (as well as experience) of the staff of the media centre and the total confusion on the actual leadership of Press Services. Niels Knippertz signed all correspondence with the press in the months prior the event as the Press Officer. While during WEG he was not at the Press Centre liasing with the media, where Helga Raue dealt with the accredited press. In addition it was clear that the Press Officer/s had no previous experience with sport events of this magnitude and therefore some simple procedures (such as liaising with Technical Officials before organising a cross-country course walk for press or establishing photo positions) were not followed. It is vital for a successful press service that the Press Officer has previous experience in press operations at major sport events.
The area dedicated to the workroom for press turned out to be sufficient, despite having the press conference area set up within the main workroom which was not satisfying. Facilities in media centre were of good standard. Wi-fi worked fine, but there was a lack of monitors to follow close circuit coverage of competitions. Location of press conference area was bad. Too small, too noisy, audio system and microphones not up to the level required.
The press tribunes in the main stadium were not clearly marked and not properly manned. Also non-members of the accredited press could occupy them, with the result of some press remaining with no seats during key events. No print distribution was planned in tribunes (intermediate results, start lists, releases).
The level of information was inadequate, especially during the first few days. Clearly Jumping and Dressage were given priority in generating news and information for the press. Many new reports (such us the Medal Count and the WEG by Numbers) were only produced in German and not provided at all in English. Pigeon holes and trays for distribution of results/news releases in the Press Centre were not sufficient and badly organised.
Mixed Zones/Training Areas
These were the most successful aspects of WEG 2006 press service. Accredited press could very easily access the competitors, and there were many areas were press could freely interact with riders/officials and set up private interviews. Access/viewing to training areas was granted at all time to accredited press. Very positive!