Visual News Framing and Effects on Recipients’ Attitudes Toward Athletes With Physical Disabilities

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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The international media coverage of athletes with physical disabilities (AWD) shows diverse quantitative and qualitative shortcomings. This study explores what effects a specific visual framing in a print article about disability sports has on recipients’ attitudes toward a depicted AWD. In an experiment with a 3 (framed conditions) × 2 (participants’ contact with people with disabilities) betweensubjects design, 88 participants were randomly assigned to 1 of the 3 (framed) conditions. The participants read a sports news article with a photograph of a 1-armed javelin thrower with no spectators, a few spectators, or a large crowd shown in the background. After examining the participants’ responses to a questionnaire, an ANOVA showed that the participants’ attitudes toward the depicted AWD were significantly more positive when the visual frame included spectators in the background of the picture.

The authors are with the Inst. of Communication and Media Research, German Sport University, Cologne, Germany.