COMMENTS: Preparing for Olympic Inundation

A very light day of news turned out to portend the coverage we may expect for the next three weeks. The breaking news was so inconsequential that not a single story was deemed newsworthy enough to qualify for coverage by a correspondent on all three newscasts. NBC led with the heatwave that has baked Dallas for the last eleven days. CBS and ABC both chose Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama's energy platform and the sarcastic response by his Republican rival to Obama's observation that a properly maintained automobile burns less gasoline: "We have to drill here and drill now. We are not going to achieve energy independence by inflating our tires," John McCain barked. Anyway, in this news vacuum, feature coverage in the run-up to the Beijing Olympic Games qualified as Story of the Day. With NBC's newscast being anchored from Beijing from Thursday onwards, we can expect sports to be treated as news whenever true news is light.

Ian Williams, NBC's man in Bangkok, arrived in Beijing and offered up the first views of structures we can expect to inundate us over the next few weeks--the Water Cube for swimming, the Birds Nest for track-&-field, the new television center for CCTV, the largest airport terminal in the world. Construction has cost $40bn and 1.5m residents have been evicted to make room: "Brave new Beijing has been built on the rubble of the city's courtyard homes." CBS also filed from China but looked back at the ruins from this spring's earthquake in Sichuan rather than forward to the Games. Barry Petersen, who showed us surviving giant pandas last week, now turned to bereaved parents: "In a country that imposes a policy of one child per couple, when you lose that child in the rubble, you lose the centerpiece of your family." ABC's closing feature was a Beijing preview, a standard up-close-and-personal profile of three USOC athletes. John Berman (embargoed link) told us that the taekwondo team includes a trio of siblings. Meet Steven, Mark and Diana, the Lopezes of Sugarland Texas.


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