Featured Content, Daily Diary:
Jacob Young, June 26, 2002
Day One of the Summit. The media's attention shifts entirely, from the G6B, from the security preparations and moved directly onto the utterances of the world's leaders and the content of their agreements.
The currency of the press corps is the rumor. In the ruthless and breakneck competition amongst journalists to be the first to break the story, any form of information will suffice. A government official willing to speak off the record, extrapolations from vague statements made by the leaders - anything will suffice.
On the first day of the summit, little information was released. We all knew that there would be some form of agreement - about the nuclear disarmament and increased development aid to Africa - released at the summit's conclusion on Thursday. The Sherpas have been privately negotiating these details for months. Yet journalists are only judged to be successful if they know the content of those agreements on Wednesday before everybody else.
"Mr. Prime Minister, Could you please tell me whether the G8 has agreed to assign 50% of ODA to Africa, or whether they have only agreed to 'half'?" At the briefings by Prime Minister Blair and Prime Minister Chrétien, the media aggressively mined every vague response given to their repetitive questions.
I couldn't help but think that we will all know the answer tomorrow, can they just be patient!! hen I remember that I am new to journalism. For a journalist, knowing something is not enough; success is only measured by being the first to broadcast that knowledge. When the G8 officially announces their policy in print, it is already old news!
Like all recent summits, the protestors have garnered media attention. In a new twist, however, at this summit the protestors were an issue because of their absence. Unlike Genoa or Quebec City, the smell of teargas and the dangerous confrontations just didn't materialize. My personal hope is that all the public attention usually given to casualty numbers will instead be refocused on the NEPAD initiative, and how to improve the lives of Africans.
This is definitely a new summit experience for me. The press is as assertive as always but unlike Genoa, the mood is more relaxed and light because it is peaceful outside. Some of the exciting danger is gone but who likes being under siege?