This book focuses on the ground-breaking coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games by the UK’s publicly owned but commercially funded Channel 4 network, coverage which seemed to deliver a transformational shift in attitudes towards people with disabilities.
It sheds important new light on our understanding of media production and its complex interactions with sport and wider society. Drawing on political economy and cultural studies, the book explores why and how a marginalised group was brought into the mainstream by the media, and the key influencing factors and decision-making processes. Featuring interviews with key people involved in the television and digital production structures, as well as organisational archives, it helps us to understand the interplay between creativity and commerce, between editorial and marketing workflows, and about the making of meaning. The book also looks at coverage of the Rio Paralympics, and ahead to the Tokyo Games, and at changing global perceptions of disability through sport.
This is fascinating reading for any advanced students, researchers, or sport management or media professionals looking to better understand the media production process or the significance of sport and disability in wider society.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction, 2. Spectacles of Otherness: Media, sports and disability dilemmas, 3. Riskier Representations: Channel 4’s public service broadcast model, 4. Normalising Disability: Mega-event media parity for the ‘superhuman’ supercrips, 5. Reframing Meanings: Encoding disability across multiple TV programme formats, 6. Marketing Parasports: Media, cultural production, and branded authenticity, 7. Conclusion
Carolyn Jackson-Brown is Senior Lecturer in Journalism & Sports Journalism at Leeds Trinity University, UK. Her research focuses on media production and representations of difference.
"In this important book Carolyn Jackson-Brown addresses the immense role played by television in the representation of disability. She presents a fascinating account of how public perceptions of disabled sportspeople can be shifted from a discourse of strangeness and embarrassment to admiration and inclusion. Many books about television tell us about failures of representation; this one presents a story of bold risk-taking." - Stephen Coleman, Professor of Political Communication, University of Leeds, UK
"It is now clear that Channel 4’s broadcasting and promotion of the 2012 Paralympics was a turning point for disability and para-sport broadcasting, which changed the conversation about disability in the UK and had lasting reverberations for broadcasters across the world. This unique book provides the definitive inside story of Channel 4’s Paralympic broadcasting strategy towards 2012 and beyond. Filled with rich insights and engagingly written throughout, this book is the most in-depth study of Paralympic broadcasting strategy to date." - Dan Jackson, Associate Professor of Media and Communication, Faculty of Media and Communication, Bournemouth University, UK
"Jackson-Brown does an excellent job of incorporating her study on athletes with disabilities and the media’s influence … [she] has done the hard work of gathering the necessary data and assembling it so it will be understandable to the layperson. She illustrates how and why the Paralympic Games and disabled athletes in general have become more accepted by sports fans and the role that social media have played in that acceptance. This book will appeal to any reader who is interested in the topic of disability, sports, and the media. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers." - S. J. Bryant, Michigan State University, CHOICE magazine