Lack of Media Coverage for the Paralympics

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Posted by Jennifer Gardner

There is a definite double standard when it comes to the Olympics.  When the Olympics were on a couple of weeks ago, every single news site was covered with stories.  You could hardly go anywhere without hearing people talk about how the U.S. won their first gold ice dancing medal or the latest medal count.  Even the seemingly mundane and unrelated parts of the Olympics were somehow big news (Bob Costas’s eye and Tinder taking over the Olympic village).

Fast-forward a few weeks.  The Olympics are over, and life is back to normal.  Two more years to the next one, right?


The Paralympics are happening right now in Sochi, and there isn’t a scrap of media coverage.

I went to 10 well-known media websites, ranging from The New York Times to Fox News and BBC, and there was absolutely NO coverage on the Paralympics on the front page.  Absolutely none.

I don’t know about you, but that incenses me as a journalist.  We spend a lot of time in my media ethics class talking about representation in the media, and this is a clear instance where there is a lack of representation of disabled athletes.  They work incredibly hard to be able to compete in the Paralympics, and honestly, some of their stories are more inspiring than the stories we hear from the other Olympics.

Even the NBC website that is showing coverage of the Paralympics doesn’t have anything on its front page about them.  It takes a click on their News and Sports tab before an Olympics option appears.  It’s sad that inspiring stories of athletes like blind skier Danelle Umstead are buried three clicks into the NBC website when “The Voice Final Blind Auditions” gets front billing on the website.

As journalists we need to ask ourselves this: how can we completely ignore an entire group (such as the disabled) in our news coverage?  What can we do to actively combat selective journalism?


2 responses to “Lack of Media Coverage for the Paralympics

  1. I was wondering where all of the stories were about the Paralympics. I actually came across a small photo one day when I was reading the news and thought “Wow the Paralympics started already?” I would not have been so surprised if the media would have made more of an effort to glorify it as they did The Olympics. It is definitely a misrepresentation (or lack there of) and honestly I am surprised that after how far we have come as a society on accepting and helping those with special needs, we are still leaving them in the dark. It is unfair and disappointing to me. I am glad you chose this topic; it needed to be addressed.

  2. ariellamiesner

    This is too bad. The Paralympics definitely deserve some attention. I understand that maybe they are not as popular for most people to watch, but how disrespectful to those hard working athletes to just ignore their events.
    I’m surprised that I haven’t heard more about this topic.

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