2012 London Olympics: Day Eight – Inside the London Media Centre

The London Media Centre's main press room is the home away from the Olympic Park for journalists covering the London 2012 Games.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

What’s it like covering the 2012 London Olympics? Is it an adventure? Is it exhausting? Is it disappointing?

To answer that quickly, I’d direct your eyes to the above photo. That’s my office for the duration of the Summer Games. So, no – it’s not exactly ditch digging.

In the hope of offering up a more detailed vicarious experience of a reporter’s life here, we’ve already served up a tour of the Olympic Park and the sailing venues in Weymouth. But the HQ for covering overall Olympics news is the London Media Centre.

Situated in Westminster just off Parliament Square – just a shrapnel’s throw from Churchill’s War  Rooms – the LMC was constructed inside the Institute of Civil Engineering – an impressive and stately building at One Great George Street. Built between 1910 and 1913 and renovated in 1991. the ICE still uses the space for its functions and meetings. It’s also available to other outside entities for special events like the London Olympics.

The building nuzzles into a corner across the road from Whitehall in the shadow of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. It’s impressive, painted ceilings and red carpeted marble staircases make it a perfect movie and TV setting for “Bridget Jones,” “Ghandi,” “Mr Bean” and “In the Loop.” When you consider that many newsrooms and publishing joints are bland office blocks full of cubicles and fluorescent lights, marching to work in this joint puts a little bounce in my step every day.

For these Olympics, all three floors of the facility are taken up by media work rooms, audio studios, television production and editing facilities and press conference space. I work from the huge third floor press room seen above. Direct link TV feeds from all Olympic events are piped into the different video monitors so – no matter what’s going on – reporters can watch every moment of every competition.

The TV feeds are in every working press room and in the canteen – where the affordable food is actually pretty good. I expected to be sampling local cheap restaurants but have been pounding curries at the press center when not writing and sending in photos.

It’s an international experience at the LMC as print, online, radio and TV reporters from around the world pile in to file their stories. While working in that huge media hall, I overhear media folk recording or phoning in the day’s news in every variation of accented English, Chinese, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, etc. And, in the spirit of the Olympic Games, I haven’t seen any fights break out or heard any jingoist insults or cheering.

In fact, the only fool who forgot he was an objective reporter and whooped a bit as he watched the competitions on the TV feeds was, of course, me – as Michael Phelps roared back to his first Gold of these Olympics earlier this week.

Every floor of the LMC holds offices for direct contact to government official statements, tourism opportunities, Olympic facts and figures, etc. Media reps are on hand literally 24/7 to get reporters anything they need to file stories to outlets scattered thorough the world’s time zones.

Basically, if a journalist doesn’t have credentials to a given event – and very few of us have a credential to each and every contest we’d like to see – there’s no better place to cover London 2012 than the LMC.