Caught in the Spotlight

Media Themes in the Build-Up to the Beijing Olympic Games


  • Garry Whannel


As the global mega event par excellence, the Olympic Games commands attention around the world not just in the two weeks of the Games themselves but for several months beforehand. This period of months before the Games begin is often a challenging one for the press office of the Organising Committee. In the case of the Beijing Olympic Games, the torch relay and associated protests made headlines around the world. The formation of the news agenda, the processes of gatekeeping, agenda setting, framing and constructing the news a complex process in which power and influence is unevenly distributed. Clearly though news is the site of a continuing struggle over meaning, perspective and interpretation. Through an analysis of media representation of the events surrounding the torch relay, this paper explores the ways in which key social actors compete in the media to try and ensure that their interpretive frames become the dominant ones.


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