The issue of defining who is a journalist, what rights they have, how they are served and managed is an important aspect of determining control of the platform. Over the last four Olympic Games, the phenomenon of alternative or non-accredited journalists has asserted itself (partly because of the Internet) and institutional arrangements, often quite elaborate, have developed for the management of this group.
As the Beijing 2008 Olympics approaches, the future of the non-accredited journalist is in the balance, though the city plans to accommodate over 11,000 non-accredited journalists during Games time. We outline the political context of their presence at the Olympics and suggest that they can present an ideological challenge for the Beijing government generally and for the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) specifically. However, we also suggest that non-accredited journalists – rather than the accredited – could also be crucial at repositioning Western media within China.