Sport Goes National: The Online Coverage Of Sport In The Popular And Quality Press In Europe

Por: Minas Dimitriou.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Introduction
New media, in the form of the Internet and World Wide Web, have had revolutionary impact on journalism. It is,
possibly, changing the role the journalist has served as an intermediary but it offers a broad range of new technologies
with which to deliver messages, furthermore, it is creating its own form of journalism. On the other hand, new media, in
particular the Internet, digital television and mobile telephony, are introducing new distribution platforms and services
for the delivery of sports content. Interactive media have grabbed the attention of communication researchers in the
second half of the 1990s, but the focus to date has been primarily on media audiences and their use of these new forms.
Regarding the penetration of ethnicity und nationality in the media sport coverage there have been a number of studies
of the representation of national identity in newspaper coverage of European championships and World Cups, some
from a comparative perspective (see for example Blain et.al. 1993 and O’Donnell, 1996 and 1997). There have also
been several studies of national and racial stereotyping in television sports coverage of these types of event (Chandler,
1988 and Whannel 1992). However most of these research studies are based on sport events or concentrate on the
representation of nationality in several national states (England, Spain, USA etc.). This study will compare the type of
reporting and the national or international orientation between the online sport coverage in the popular and in the
quality newspapers. On the other side, this paper examines the extent that popular and quality daily newspapers are
using available technologies, including multimedia and interactivity, for the development of World Wide Web sites and
for sport coverage.

Methods
The study employed content analysis of six online newspapers - The Sun / The Guardian (GBR), Die Bildzeitung / Die
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (GER), Die Kronenzeitung / Der Standard (AUT) - at two eleven-day time periods
during March - May and October - November 2003. To explore this more systematically, the contents of the websites
were coded by two principle dimensions. The information transparency evaluated and measured by the presence or
absence of seven criteria for the type of sports reporting and two for the national or international orientation. In addition
websites were coded according to their communication interactivity, using eight criteria including such as use of
multimedia (such as audio and video), links to other stories, e-mail to reporters and editors, chat rooms, forums,
animations, photographs and biographical information about reporters and columnists.

Results
Regarding the national or international orientation of the sport coverage no significant difference was found between
popular und quality online newspapers. The analysis illustrated that all online newspapers focused on the national
events and athletes (see Figure 1). But a major characteristic of popular online sport coverage that differentiates it from
quality newspapers, in view of the representation of nationality in the sport coverage, are the categories of the type
reporting and sport. The quality online newspapers preferred more types of reporting (News, Reportage etc.) than the
popular papers to present the national sport. On the other side the popular newspapers emphasised more in the actual
und popular sport events than the quality online versions.

Discussion/Conclusions
National International
The domination of national sport is a defining characteristic of the online sport journalism. The use of the typical
advantages of the Internet - hypertextuality, multimediality and specifically interactivity - had a major impact on
enhancing the ability of online sport to produce spectacular entertainment. On the other hand, the actual semiotics of the
representation and operation of sports in general, supplemented by the media online coverage thereof, do much to
accentuate nationalistic fervour and creation of identity which may constitute nationalism and a media audience being
forced to identify with the nation through sport. Finally, the intensive use of all categories of type reporting and
especially "reportage" and "interview" for present national events and athletes documented increasingly tendency of
personalization in the online sport coverage.

References
Boyle R, Haynes R (2002), New Media Sport, Culture, Sport, Society, Vol. 5: 95-114.
Blain N. et al (1993), Sport and national identity in the European media, Leicester.
Deuze M (1999), Journalism and the Web: An Analysis of Skills and Standards.., Gazette, Vol. 61, 5: 373-

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