The 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games was a sporting and financial success, yet an international image disaster. Atlanta’s goal to shine on a global stage was met with harsh criticism and stereotypical portrayals by media nationally and around the world. What happened? Using a multimethod approach, including content analyses of print and broadcast media in 27 countries, review of institutional reports, and observation of media operations during the Games, this study identifies four key factors largely responsible for Atlanta’s image disaster as Olympic host. In doing so, it provides an exemplar case study of the complex challenges faced by hosts of global media events in their efforts to garner favorable international media coverage. A secondary purpose of this case study is to summarize the preparations, process, and innovations related to media use in the Atlanta Games. Such an account of Atlanta 1996 is missing in the current Olympics literature.
Jochem Kotthaus, Matthias Schäfer, Nikola Stankovic, and Gerrit Weitzel
media events into a theoretical framework that maps onto popular events. Global Media Events What exactly constitutes a media event remains a matter of theoretical perspective and definition. Thinking of the Super Bowl, Olympic Games, and state visits or funerals, Dayan and Katz ( 1994 ) outline that
Christiana Schallhorn and Jessica Kunert
_interesse_an_sportsendungen_im_fernsehen/ Porat , A.B . ( 2010 ). Football fandom: A bounded identification . Soccer & Society, 11 ( 3 ), 277 – 290 . doi:10.1080/14660971003619594 10.1080/14660971003619594 Rivenburgh , N.K . ( 2002 ). The Olympic Games: Twenty-first century challenges as a global media event . Sport in Society, 5 ( 3
Grace Yan, Ann Pegoraro, and Nicholas M. Watanabe
audience engagement during global media events . Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, 12 ( 1 ), 438 – 469 . Duncan , M.C. , & Brummett , B. ( 1993 ). Liberal and radical sources of female empowerment in sport media . Sociology of Sport Journal, 10 ( 1 ), 57 – 72 . 10