The accommodations at Sochi were less than ideal
February 27, 2014
Prior to the Winter Olympics beginning in Sochi, reporters covering the 2014 Olympiad filed stories on their unacceptable living conditions in what were supposed to be 5-star accommodations; consequently, stories also turned to the athletes' rooms that appeared to be no better.
Doors wouldn't close (some that would not open) … water looked like it had been scooped out of the toilet … stray dogs roamed the halls … reporters gave the world a glimpse of what awaited for them and the Olympians.
Was reporting on their accommodations part of the overall news or was it just another case of complaining? At first, it appeared the reporters were upset because the rooms were subpar, but if their companies spent thousands of dollars for them to fly to Sochi to cover the Olympics for two weeks, then those accommodations should have been equal with a Hampton Inn or better.
Most reporters do not receive complimentary rooms at the Olympics.
Comments on the Military Reporters and Editors Facebook site varied:
"This is the Olympics and the inability to flush toilet paper (very common in the world) or "poison water is an interesting story to me."
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Likewise, another person said reporters are filing their stories from a multi-billion dollar sports venue.
"Toilets should flush and the water shouldn't be "bad for your face."
Others, though, said the reporters were looking for something so they could complain to the rest of the world.
Another person said the International Olympic Committee failed to ensure minimum conditions were met.
According to one poster on Facebook, he discounted that reporters whined about their rooms and then dropped the story.
"The reporters showed 'their' rooms and then went and interviewed guests and athletes as they arrived to report on their experiences. One of the selling points of Sochi was that the venue was ready for tourists after the Games."
I don't think anyone would have complained if the basic necessities of the room such as the toilet and the heating worked. I would have been irked as well.
Motel 6 would have looked like the Ritz-Carlton Hotel judging by some of the reports.
At one time or another, management sends reporters out of town to cover events, and for the most part accommodations aren't spectacular, but they are better than what most reporters encountered at Sochi.
During the two times reporters from the Nevada Appeal and LVN covered Nevada's football bowl games in Idaho, the chosen hotel was a Super 8. Not as quaint as a Marriott or Best Western, the motel gave us a clean place to put our heads for the night and a work place to file stories.
Likewise, when the Wolf Pack played in a bowl game in San Francisco in 2010, our sports reporters stayed in a Hampton Inn near the airport.
I don't think many reporters would have complained about the accommodations found in either Iraq or Afghanistan when covering the war or out in the high desert reporting on fire crews trying to knock down a wild land fire.
My accommodations in Afghanistan varied during the times I traveled there to embed with Nevada Army National Guard troops. The first trip was spent in a small three-person room, a small, cell-like room at the Hotel California, a transient quarter for media at Bagram Air Field, and a 24-person tent on the military side of Kabul International Airport. The second trip included a stay at the Hotel California, in a six-person tent near the front lines with the Taliban and a windowless, metal building the size of a Churchill County Jail cell.
The toilet and shower facilities were at least 200-300 yards away.
They were nothing great … but it was better than sleeping under a Humvee for the night.
Likewise, in my earlier days of being a journalist, I covered wild-land firefighters in northeastern Nevada, who would be on the fire line for days. Accommodations included a sleeping bag placed on an air mattress or on a bed of pine needles. The decor of the day was the night's smoky sky. We expected that type of sleeping arrangements because fighting fire is like fighting the enemy.
I'm sure we'll hear more about the Sochi experience, but it's interesting how soft some have become when it comes to "field" accommodations.
Steve Ranson is editor of the LVN.