Meet the Man Who Began #NBCFail For 2012 Olympics (INTERVIEW)

Meet the Man Who Began #NBCFail For 2012 Olympics (INTERVIEW)
By Amanda Walgrove
  • Yesterday, Mashable posted an article that cited Twitter user Steven Marx as the first person to use the #NBCFail hashtag, which has since emerged as a digital destination for mocking NBC’s shoddy stateside coverage of the 2012 Olympics in London.

    Mashable tracked the tweet using social media analytics service Peoplebrowsr. On July 26, a day before the Opening Ceremony, @StevenMarx, a web designer from Peoria, Illinois, tweeted:


    While Marx may have been the first person to use the #NBCFail hashtag for the 2012 Olympics, it’s not exactly a new tag, as Mashable commenters pointed out that #NBCFail was used during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, with fans angered by NBC’s inability to air certain events in real time.

    The hashtag then blew up in the trends yesterday — exceeding 20,000 tweets — after NBC requested that Twitter suspend the account of British journalist Guy Adams for tweeting information that was damaging to the network.

    We caught up with Steven Marx to learn about his reaction to the hashtag craze, his previous experiences watching Olympics coverage, and his take on the recent Guy Adams controversy.

    Did you have any idea that you’d be a trend-starter when you first used #nbcfail?

    To be honest, I’m surprised it hadn’t already been used. I didn’t search to see if it was being used already, but I think I assumed it was. In reading comments on the Mashable story, I guess it was for the 2010 Olympics coverage as well, so I’m only a trendsetter for this round.

    What’s your reaction to how quickly #nbcfail blew up as a trend?

    Well, based on what NBC has done, I’m not surprised, and I even anticipated it somewhat. I’m a bit older than most Twitter users, and remember what Olympics coverage used to be like. I also remember the frustration in 2010 when there was no excuse not to show things live because there wasn’t a time delay. So it’s not really surprising, I’ve been unimpressed with NBC’s Olympic coverage for a long time.

    Are there any other hashtags that you frequently use?

    You know, that’s one of the funnier things about this. I’m not a big Twitter user. I mostly am on it because I do work in technology, so figured I needed to be on. Most of my Tweets are just about what I’ve been working on or Retweeting other tech articles of relevance/interest. This was one of the very few times I’ve used a hashtag.

    Now that my number of followers, while still low, has tripled, I’ll have to be better about tweeting and try and be more interesting. Not sure I’ll have a career in pre-figuring hashtag trends though. Although I supposed I should check into the nbcfail2014 domain name.

    Are you still bothered by NBC’s Olympics coverage? What do you think the network could do better?

    As someone else, can’t remember who, had tweeted, the problem is as much with the FCC and how the airwaves are regulated as NBC itself. It’s symptomatic of many of the problems in this country related to corporate control that NBC, for no particular reason that I can see besides helping out the cable/satellite/etc. companies, requires a subscription to one of those services to stream through their app. I’d have no problem with them showing the short ads we’re all used to during the stream.

    And I do agree with those criticizing them for not showing the big events live during the day, but saving them for their evening coverage, even though they’ll tell us the results during their news broadcasts, etc. I remember when you used to get both: live coverage during the day for those who could watch, and then the highlights at night for those who couldn’t. (This was in the 1980s and earlier.)

    Any favorite #nbcfail tweets or Olympics moments so far?

    I would say that those objecting to the journalist having his account yanked need to read the coverage, because it’s my understanding that his account was closed because he tweeted an NBC executive’s private e-mail, not because he used the hashtag. That’s one of the things I don’t like about Twitter and similar instant trend media — misinformation gets passed around as quickly as good information.

    Favorite Olympic moments would be the World Record in the butterfly the other night, the Mexican pair coming in second in synchronized diving last night, and Missy Franklin’s win last night.