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Using coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing as a basis, the researchers examined how air pollution and weather—by producing cloudy conditions as opposed to sunlight—might have impacted coverage of those Games.
They examined four major US newspapers and found that as air pollution increased and temperatures rose, journalists were more likely to use negative words in stories about the host country and about competitors from China and the US when reporting. The researchers think the tone of coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games in London could be impacted if the grey and misty conditions London is known for exist. If so, reporters might focus more on what is wrong with the Games. But if the weather is ideal, reporters are more likely to give the Olympics a higher grade, if the research from Beijing holds true.
“The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of mediated sports coverage. This concentrated collection of research reveals the breadth and facets of how the Games impact us, the viewers,” says Stephen Perry, editor of Mass Communication and Society and co-editor of the special issue. “More than 40 scholars submitted research ideas for this issue, and the eight that were selected were the best of the best.”