Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Coverage of Athletes’ Health Concerns Increases As Coverage of Tibet Wanes

By Dow Jones Insight Staff

When the Olympic torch began its official journey from Mt. Olympus to Beijing three months ago, the relay was a lightning rod for protesters at several stops along the route. In European and U.S. cities, activists came out to voice their opposition to China’s policies regarding Tibet. As a result, Tibet was a major topic in the media coverage of the Olympics in April, during the early days of the torch relay. Of the 47,440 mentions of Tibet in traditional and social media sources analyzed by Dow Jones Insight during the period April 1 through July 1, nearly 30%, or 14,020, were seen during the week of April 7-13, when the protests were at their height.

Since then, as protests have died down, so has the media coverage, down to 804 mentions, or about 2%, during the week of June 9-15. Coverage doubled the following week, June 16-22, to 1,664 mentions, or 4%, coinciding with the torch’s brief visit to Tibet. Coverage dropped off again the week of June 23-30, to 997 mentions, or 2%.

In contrast, coverage of concerns over athletes’ health and how it may be affected by Beijing’s pollution and poor air quality has increased as the Games have drawn closer. Athlete health issues were a popular topic in mid-April, when the Games were drawing a lot of negative coverage over a range of issues. Of the 2,315 total mentions in traditional and social media sources tracked by Dow Jones Insight, 391, or 17%, occurred from April 14-20. Coverage then dropped off, with only 75 mentions, or 3%, during the week of June 9-15.

Media mentions of athlete health issues spiked again the week of June 16-22, to 342 mentions, or 15%. This increase coincided with China’s announcement of measures designed to reduce pollution and improve air quality in Beijing during the Olympic Games. The government announced a ban on all construction and industrial projects between July and September. Drivers will be allowed to drive on alternate days only, based on an odd-even system. And some drivers will be given financial incentives to keep their cars off the Beijing streets for the entire period.

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