Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Pacific Scoop

The representation of female athletes in online images of successive Olympics

Volume 12, Issue 1

April, 2006

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Jones, D. (2006). The representation of female athletes in online images of successive Olympic Games. Pacific Journalism Review, 12(1): 108-129.
Author(s): Dianne Jones
Publication date: 
April, 2006

Photographs tell stories. They are ‘so much a part of our daily lives we rarely think about how they influence us and what that influence is’. Yet photographs, like other media images, can be used to legitimate the interests of hegemonic groups seeking to shape consensus or consent to existing social arrangements (Duncan, 1990, p. 22). A content analysis of 2004 Olympic Games coverage on the website of Australia’s national public broadcaster, ABC News Online, shows that images of female athletes outnumbered those of male athletes. However, in line with results from analysis of 2000 Olympics coverage on News Online, women competing in team sports received little recognition and females were frequently depicted as passive subjects rather than active competitors. Such under-representation for team players and stereotypical portrayals of sportswomen on News Online may instill in its news audiences the belief that women’s sports are less powerful, less interesting and thus separate and different from men’s sports.