The Media Event Build-Up Phase: A Site of Contestation and Counternarratives

Cerianne Robertson


The media events and sports mega-events literatures show that celebratory media narratives dominate or dismiss criticism of events like the Olympics. Given this bias, this article explores how critics of the Games contest official and celebratory narratives around the Olympic media event. Through document analysis and interviews, I examine two alternative media projects that built extensive critiques of the 2016 Rio Olympics. These projects not only criticized the urban and social impacts of the mega-event but also explicitly deconstructed the event’s official narratives, exposing the workings of the media event of which they themselves were coproducers. Contrary to the media event literature’s focus on the live phase of events, I argue that that the “build-up phase” is a crucial period for the development and contestation of narratives about the Olympic event model and the media structures that sustain it.


media events, alternative media, digital media, counternarratives, Olympics

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