Politics of Representation- the media representation of the Sydney Olympic Games

Essay by brookayUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, May 2007

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Media plays an important role in the understanding of modern issues and events. To fulfill this function, the media selects, and sometimes excludes, relevant information that relates to its target audience. This information is presented through different sources of media and provides versions of reality to varying audiences. An example of this can be seen through the media coverage of the largest media event in the world; the Olympic Games. Arguably, the media are the Olympic Games. Most of us cannot go to the games. Instead, the games are portrayed to us through various media formats. To understand the Olympics as a media event, and to discuss the politics of representation, we need to explore the three media processes defined by Dayan and Katz (1992); production, content and audience.

Mega-events such as the Olympic Games undoubtedly qualify as examples of media events (Rowe, D. 1999). It is clear that these types of events require a special production treatment beyond the ordinary categories of news and entertainment.

Dayan and Katz, (1992), identify some key characteristics of media events. These include the fact that they are broadcast live, usually presented by a large organisation, marked with a clear beginning and ending that interrupts normal social routines, feature heroic/superman type personalities and are highly dramatic. The Olympics certainly incorporate such features. Evidently, mass media viewing of an event such as the Olympics is not the same as being there so the presentational structure of the event involve what Dayan and Katz (1992) refer to as 'an aesthetics of compensation'. This 'compensates' the viewer for not 'being there' by providing them with information, visual perspectives and commentaries. In many ways, this viewing is richer than available to 'in-person' participants (Dayan & Katz. 1992). Receiving this media event in the privacy of the home effectively...