Date of Award

2002

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Beate Josephi

Abstract

In the year 2000, Australia assumed its role as Olympic host, with the summer Games held at Sydney in September. The Games of the Millennium, like any Olympics, was historically significant but, for sportswomen, the Sydney Olympics marked an important milestone as this was the year to celebrate the centenary of female athletes' involvement in the Olympic Games. Within the context of mediated Olympic presentation, it was the Australian press' duty to convey this moment, and other events involving female athletes, to the public in a manner in which it believed to be most suitable, and/or newsworthy. In the past, many authors have argued that the print journalists represent sportswomen inadequately in comparison with male athletes, and that female athletes have been trivialised in the eyes of the public as a result. Unlike many studies of the status of women's sport in the media, this thesis will employ a four-part process of analysis which is used to assess the Sydney Olympic press coverage of female athletes only. This coverage will be studied from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective. Australian female athletes’ and sports journalists' points of view, as depicted thrm.1gh interviews, will also be discussed. This thesis will specifically examine press reports written for four Australian newspapers which served national, eastern and western readerships during the two week period of Sydney Olympic competition- The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, The West Australian and The Sunday Times. The primary focus will be on the factors and influences involved in the production of news material about Australia's female Olympic competitors at Sydney. Drawing on past literature on women in sport and Australian studies of female athletes in the press, this thesis will aim to reveal how representations of sportswomen have evolved since these works were written, and to identify any particular improvements or remaining inadequacies in contemporary women's sport journalism. In addition, new ways of seeing the position of women in sport and sportswomen in the press, based on the press' portrayal of Australian female athletes at Sydney, will be offered.

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