Video directed and produced by Moses Shumow
The study found many differences.
It also found similarities.
For a quick highlight of the major findings, see the Summary of Findings. 
For detailed results of the study look under the following five categories:
(And see the Methodology  for further details on how the study was designed and conducted.)
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The brilliantly conceived and staged opening ceremony attracted ‘gee-whiz’ front-page coverage around the world. To a surprising degree, the press ignored the attending heads of state and even in most instances the parade of their own athletes—to focus on the new Chinese superpower flexing its muscles with choreographed musicians, lights and fireworks.
Overall, the world's press gave China predominantly favorable coverage: Prior to the Olympics, there was much speculation that the media would turn the games into an international anti-China campaign—after all there had been extensive coverage of the protests against China’s human rights record during the global torch relay and of the rioting in Tibet.
But that all essentially disappeared off the front pages of global newspapers.
Over the course of the first week, the newspapers' front pages featured the athletes, especially those who won medals—and especially the swimmers and the gymnasts. The events were covered as spectacle, not as politics games. Coverage was upbeat, positive—and ethnocentric.
However, the newspapers from one region to another often varied in their coverage —sometimes considerably.
And China's coverage of itself was often the most distinctive.
See below for more details.
Prominence  of the Coverage
The 2008 Olympics received extensive and prominent coverage during the first week. The vast majority of newspapers offered at least one front page story daily, positioned those stories prominently high, and allocated substantial space to them. China offered the most extensive and prominent coverage, while Africa and the Arabic world offered the least.
Focus  of the Coverage
The first week of the 2008 Olympics coverage focused on the games, the opening ceremonies and the athletes. Politics, security and other related issues were mostly ignored. The sports that received the most coverage during that week were: Swimming, Gymnastics, Weightlifting and Basketball. But different regions differed considerably in what sports they highlighted.
Portrayal of Athletes 
The coverage focused predominantly on male athletes, offering twice as many male-only images than female-only images. In addition, the images mostly showed athletes performing or winning. Few images showed them losing. Different regions, however, differed dramatically in the portrayal of athletes.
Coverage of China 
Overall, the 2008 Olympics received mostly positive or neutral coverage, and the coverage of China was also mostly positive or neutral overall, with only two regions offering any substantial number of negative stories.
Media and Ethnocentricity 
The front page newspaper coverage of the Olympics was primarily ethnocentric, with newspapers focusing mostly on stories related to their own countries or peoples. The level of ethnocentricity varied considerably across regions. China, Latin America and the EU-US offered the most ethnocentric coverage.
Overall, the 2008 Olympics received extensive and prominent coverage by the analyzed newspapers during the first week. The vast majority of newspapers offered at least one front page story daily, positioned those stories prominently high, and allocated substantial space to them. Across world regions, China offered the most extensive and prominent coverage on all counts, while Africa and the Arabic world offered the least number of stories and the least prominence. Asian countries also offered a high number of stories and a large amount of space for the coverage, while the US-EU and Latin America only offered a high number of daily stories.
Chart 1.1 shows that only about 10% of the newspaper front pages had no Olympics stories during the first week of coverage, while 44% had at least one story, and 46% had more than one story.
In addition, the majority of stories were prominently positioned (Chart 1.2). More than half (57%) of the stories were published in the top area of the front page, while 29% were located somewhere in the middle, and only 13% were positioned at the bottom.
Chart 1.3 shows most of the stories covered a substantial area of the front page. About 42% of them were deemed large (took up more than 1/3 or 33% of the front page's area), and 31% were considered medium-sized stories (1/4 to 1/3 or 25-33%), and about a quarter were small (less than 1/4 or 25%).
Regionally, when it came to the number of stories published on front pages, China and the EU/US ranked first with virtually all of their first week front pages publishing one or more stories (Chart 1.4). Other Asian countries and Latin America closely followed with 97% and 95% of their front pages respectively offering one or more Olympics stories daily. The coverage dropped substantially in the Arabic world and in Africa to 62% and 60%, respectively.
Similarly, China offered the locally important event the highest level of prominence with 84% of stories positioned in the top section of the newspaper front pages (Chart 1.5). The geographically proximate (other) Asian countries followed closely with 82% of the stories positioned at the top. The prominence dropped substantially in the other regions with the US/EU positioning 53% of their Olympics stories at the top, followed by Africa (49%) and the Arabic world (48%). Latin America gave the Olympics the least prominence with only 38% of its front page stories located at the top.
China by far ranked first when it came to the size of its front page stories, with 74% of them considered large or greater than 1/3 of the front page (Chart 1.6). Other Asian countries came in a distant second with 43% of their stories considered large, followed by Latin America (37%), the EU-US (34%), and Africa (23%). The Arabic world had only 8% of the Olympics stories taking up a large space on the front page.
Front page stories and images during the first week of the Olympics focused mostly on the Olympics games, the opening ceremonies and the athletes. Politics, security and other related issues were mostly ignored. Overall, the most highlighted sports in both front page images and stories were swimming, gymnastics, weightlifting and basketball. But that was not constant across the globe, as different regions highlighted different sports on their front pages. Read the details below.
Chart 2.1 shows the majority of the front pages’ headlines and leads focused on the Olympic games, including matches, scores, wins and losses (51%). The opening ceremonies also received substantial coverage during the first week reaching slightly above 1/5th of the headlines and leads (21%). Athletes received 12% while Chinese foreign policy issues received only 4%, followed by general security and terrorism stories (3%) and Chinese internal politics (2%), including stories related to Tibet and freedoms in China.
There was not much difference when these results were compared across regions. All regions gave primary focus to the Olympic games (Arabic world 44%, Africa 50%, China 59%, EU-US 44%, Latin America 47% and Other Asia 65%). Only Latin America gave secondary prominence to athletes (18%) while all other regions’ secondary focus was on the opening ceremonies (Arabic world 28%, Africa 15%, China 26%, EU-US 18%, and Other Asia 16%).
When it came to images, however, the vast majority (73%) focused on athletes. The rest of the images highlighted fans, tourists and regular spectators (9%). Images of performers, especially those related to the opening ceremonies, made up 8%, while only 5% of the front pages’ images focused on politicians and 4% on police and security personnel. It is worth noting that none of the images showed religious figures and spiritual leaders.
Only slight differences appeared between the studied regions when the results were compared regionally. Front page images from all regions primarily focused on athletes (Arabic world 80%, Africa 65%, China 72%, EU-US 68%, Latin America 80% and Other Asia 84%). The difference did appear in the secondary focus of the images: Front page images from the Arabic world (19%) China (11%), other Asian countries (10%) and Africa (7%) highlighted politicians, while American front page images (9%) highlighted artists and politicians, and EU-US images highlighted fans and audiences (15%).
Chart 2.3 shows the same sport being highlighted both in images and in the texts of the front page stories. Swimming dominated the coverage with 17% of images and 16% of stories on the front pages focusing on that sport. Gymnastics came in second with 8% of images and 6% of stories highlighting that sport, followed by weightlifting (6% of images and 4 % of stories) and basketball (4% of stories and 4% of images).
It is important to note that the schedule of the games may have influenced these results, as the games that were scheduled during the first week would naturally receive more coverage than others. A brief look at the schedule of games at the 2008 Olympics  shows, for instance, that swimming competitions, including some final games, took place during the first week, while no Taekwondo games were scheduled until August 20th. Still, almost all Judo final matches took place during a week when Judo didn’t register much on the front pages, except in newspapers from the Arabic world (see chart 2.5 below). Contrarily, no basketball final matches took place during the first week, but basketball was the fourth most highlighted sport in the images and stories. Also, beach volleyball had no final games in week one and was not highlighted on the front pages, except in African newspapers (see chart 2.5 below).
While chart 2.3 showed the most highlighted sports in the images and stories, chart 2.4 shows the most frequently appearing sport anywhere in the story, whether that sport was highlighted or mentioned fleetingly. Swimming still dominated with 24% of front page stories mentioning that sport somewhere in the text. Shooting came in second at 11% and weightlifting came in third at 10%, followed by basketball (9%), soccer (7%), diving (6%) and tennis (5%). Again, these results are influenced by the scheduling of the Olympics games .
The two charts above (2.3 and 2.4) discuss the overall coverage of sports across the globe. Chart 2.5 divides the coverage into the six regions of the study and shows that the front pages coming from different regions differed considerably in which sports they decided to highlight in their front page images. Front page images from the Arabic world highlighted judo with 19% of those images focusing on that sport, followed by shooting (10%) and weightlifting (5%). African front page images equally highlighted beach volleyball (14%) and swimming (14%), followed by gymnastics (10%). Chinese front page images gave weightlifting the most prominence (20%), followed by gymnastics (17%) and diving (8%). The EU/US images focused on swimming (30%), basketball (6%) and cycling (6%). Latin American front page images highlighted swimming (15%), soccer (11%) and gymnastics (9%). And images from other Asian countries focused on swimming (22%), shooting (12%) and weightlifting (4%).
These results are most likely influenced by the audiences of the studied newspapers and the medals a country is winning in each sport (along with the schedule of the games). A quick review of the Olympics medals records  shows some correlation between the winning countries and the most highlighted sports, but not in all cases. For instance, basketball is one of the most popular games in the USA and the American, Australian and Spanish teams won the medals in that game. That may be why basketball was the second most highlighted sport in the EU-US region. Similarly, both Egypt and Algeria won medals in judo, which may have boosted its coverage in the Arabic world. Also, football (soccer) is the most popular game throughout Latin America, and both Argentina and Brazil won medals in that game, which may have pushed its coverage up to second place on front pages coming from that region.
Still, no African nation won medals in beach volleyball or gymnastics, yet the two sports were the highlighted in front page images coming from Africa. Even the two African nations participating in the beach volleyball competitions (South Africa and Angola) did not make it beyond the preliminary matches.
Most of the regional results about the most highlighted stories in the headlines and leads of the front pages correlated with the regional results of the most highlighted images. Therefore, no separate analysis was presented.
Most newspapers’ front page images showed athletes either performing during their game or after winning. Few images showed athletes losing. Front page images with only male athletes were twice as many as images with female athletes. Less than one fifth of images showed both female and male athletes. Different regions differed dramatically in their portrayal of athletes in front page images. China presented the highest percentage of winning athletes in front page images, while Africa had the lowest. The Arabic world had the highest proportion of male-only to female-only images and virtually no images with both genders. Africa was the only region to have more female-only images than male-only images, and China had the highest percentage of images with both genders.
Chart 3.1 shows athletes in front page photos predominantly either portrayed as winning (38%) or shown during their game performance (36%). Only 6% of front page images showed athletes losing and 20% showed them doing other things, for instance in press conferences or during the opening ceremonies.
According to chart 3.2, front page images showing only male athletes (38%) were twice as many as front page images showing only female athletes (18%), while 17% of the images showed both male and female athletes.
When the results were compared across regions, the portrayal of athletes in front page images varied considerably, especially in the percentage of images showing athletes winning or performing. In addition, images of athletes winning seemed to be negatively correlated with the images of athletes performing while the percentage of images showing athletes losing remained constantly low across the board. In other words, the higher the percentage of front page images showing athletes winning, the lower the percentage of images showing athletes performing, and vice versa.
African front pages had the highest percentage of front page images showing athletes performing (45%) and the lowest percentage of images showing athletes winning (10%). Latin America had the second highest percentage of images showing athletes performing (41%) and the second lowest percentage of images showing athletes winning (28%). Following in line, 31% of the EU-US front page images showed athletes performing, and 36% showed them winning. Then, 31% of other Asian countries’ front page images showed athletes performing, and 45% showed them winning. Chinese front page images had the second lowest percentage of performing images (29%) and the highest percentage of winning images (55%), while the Arabic world had the lowest percentage of performing images (29%) but—breaking the trend slightly—only 29% of its front page images showed athletes winning.
When it came to the gender of the athletes in the images, the Arabic world and other Asian countries had the highest percentage of male-only images on their front pages, while Africa was the only region to have more female-only images than male-only images on its front pages. In addition, China was the only country to predominantly show in its front page images both males and females, and the images showing one gender only almost tied.
The Arabic world not only had the highest level male-only front page images (49%), but also the lowest percentage of female only images (9%) and no front page images showing both male and female athletes. Also, 49% of other Asian countries’ front page images showed only male athletes, but 16% of its images showed male athletes and 18% showed both. 44% of Latin American front page images showed only males, while 25% of the images showed only females, and 12% showed both. In the EU-US region, 41% of images showed only males, while 14% of the images showed only females, and 11% showed both. Chinese male-only images stood at 21% and the female-only images at 19%, while images showing both genders went up to 33%. Africa had 17% of its images show male athletes only, and 28% show female athletes only, while 21% showed both.
Many Chinese officials were concerned that the Olympics coverage would turn into a global anti-China campaign dominated by negative stories about China’s human rights records or other local issues, like Tibet. The study results show that, on the contrary, the 2008 Olympics overall received mostly positive or neutral coverage, with very few critical stories. Even across different regions, the coverage remained predominantly positive or neutral with only the EU-US region (and to a lesser extent Africa) offering any substantial number of negative stories on its front pages. In addition, the Arabic world had the least amount of negative coverage, followed by China itself.
The topic chosen for an Olympics story may influence the tone of the coverage towards China. Chart 4.1 shows that more than half (54%) of all stories had positive topics and more than one third (35%) were neutral. Only 11% of the stories had negative topics.
When it came to the tone towards China, most of the stories related to China were either positive or neutral, too. Out of all the stories, 25% had a positive tone and 22% a neutral tone towards China, while only 8% had a negative tone towards China. However, only 55% of the stories had content directly related to China and separate from the Olympics. If we take out the stories that had no content directly related to China (45%), the results become 45% positive, 40% neutral and 15% negative.
Chart 4.3 shows that, aside from issues related directly to the Olympics, China received substantial coverage, with 41% of the stories focusing on that country.
Some variations did appear when the results were compared across the six regions of the study. According to chart 4.4, the front pages with the most positive story topics came from the Arabic world (68% positive, 32% neutral, 0% negative), followed by China (67% positive, 32% neutral, 1% negative). Other Asian countries came in third (61% positive, 29% neutral, 10% negative), followed by Latin America (59% positive, 29% neutral, 12% negative), the EU-US (43% positive, 41% neutral, 17% negative), and Africa (21% positive, 56% neutral, 24% negative).
Chart 4.3 above correlates with the results of chart 4.5, which compares the tone towards China across the six regions. The EU-US region had the highest percentage of critical stories towards China (17%) and the second lowest percentage of stories favorable to China (13%). Africa came in second with 9% of its front page stories deemed critical towards China and 6% deemed favorable. Other Asian countries had 4% of their front page stories deemed critical and 20% favorable, followed by Latin America (3% critical, 15% favorable). The Arabic world and China had the highest percentage of favorable and lowest percentage of critical front page stories towards China. In fact, the Arabic world had no stories critical of China on its front pages, whereas China itself had 1% critical stories. However, while the Arabic world had almost half (48%) of its front page stories favorable of China, China had 59% of its stories favorable of its own country.
Predictably, the region that offered the highest percentage of stories focusing on China was China itself (92%). The Arabic world came in second with 60% of its front page stories focusing on China, followed by the EU-US (33%), other Asian countries (25%), Latin America (22%), and Africa (15%).
If ethnocentric media coverage refers to a phenomenon of the media predominantly focusing on stories related to their own people, then the results of this study support the conclusion that most of the newspaper front pages offered ethnocentric coverage of the 2008 Olympics, with some variation between regions. China, Latin America and the EU-US offered the most ethnocentric coverage, while the Arabic world and Africa offered the least.
Chart 5.1 shows almost half of the front page stories studied (49%) highlighted the country of the newspaper, while 33% highlighted a country other than the country of the newspaper, and only 6% highlighted both the country of the newspaper and another country simultaneously. In 12% of the cases, no country was highlighted.
Consistently, chart 5.2 shows 47% of front page images highlighted the country of the newspaper, while 23% highlighted another country and only 6% highlighted both. In 24% of the cases, no country was highlighted.
When the results are compared across the six regions of the study, Chinese front page stories emerge as the most ethnocentric with 87% of their stories focusing on China (i.e. on the country of the newspaper). Latin America comes in second with half of the stories from that region (50%) focusing on the country of the newspaper, followed closely by the EU-US at 49%. Africa had 18% of the front page stories highlighting the country of the newspaper and the Arabic world had only 4%. In fact, the vast majority of the front page stories from the Arabic world focused on another country.
Similarly, China ranked first when it came to front page images. 65% of front page images from Chinese newspapers focused on China. Latin America came in second with 53% of its front page images focusing on the country of newspaper, followed by EU-US at 41%, other Asian countries 39%, Africa 17%, and the Arabic World 14%.
The study focused on images and stories published on front pages of newspapers from around the world during the first week of the Olympics, from August 8 – 14. The study, conducted live during the Olympics by faculty and students attending the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change in Salzburg, Austria, looked at coverage by 68 newspapers, in 10 languages, in 29 countries, across six continents.
The study analyzed the front pages including headlines, copy, images and captions of those newspapers. For this study, 59 coders, working in their native languages—Afrikaans, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish—used an online codebook of 28 questions to code 484 front-page stories. The reliability rate was 91%.
Tools and Instruments
The project strived to used free and readily available tools and instruments to organize and manage the content and coders to gather and process the data.
The study used the following websites to access PDF copies of newspaper front pages: newseum.org, newspapercatalog.com and pressdisplay.com. Some front pages were downloaded and then uploaded to box.net since they were not archived by the original source.
To organize and sort content and to test for intercoder reliability, the project utilized Google Docs, where all the instructions and links to content were posted for the coders to access.
Wordpress.com was used for distributing coding schedules and the codebook instrument, which was created in surveymonkey.com.This online surveying service also offered the tools to make basic analysis of the gathered data.
Research Team and Process
Seven students from the 2008 Salzburg Academy assisted in organizing the project, searching for and updating the content, and testing and revising the codebook. The Codebook was reviewed by the Salzburg Academy faculty and tested until a relibility rate of 91% was achieved.
When it came to the daily process, the research team uploaded all the content that would be analyzed to Google Docs, which was later posted as a web site and linked to a Wordpress page that had the codebook URL and instructions on how to access the instrument and content.
Consistent with the goals of this study, the codebook provided a wide lens of analysis. The codebook included questions about the focus of the headline and lead, the main topic covered in the story and how it was framed, the main genders, sports and issues portrayed in the images. Other questions asked about the tone of the coverage, including towards China, and the prominence of the coverage.
The following are the analyzed newspapers, divided into six regions. Faculty from those regions selected the major newspapers to be analyzed, but in some cases, their choices were limited by the availability of front page pdf copies of those papers.
1. Al Ghad (Jordan)
2. Al Akhbar (Lebanon)
3. Al Safir (Lebanon)
4. Al Hayat (Saudi Arabia)
5. Al Bayan (UAE)
Australia, Canada/USA & Europe:
6. Der Standard (Austria)
7. The Age (Australia)
8. The Globe and Mail (Canada)
9. National Post (Canada)
10. Les Echos (France)
11. Le Figaro (France)
12. Die Welt (Germany)
13. Daily Telegraph (UK)
14. The Guardian (UK)
15. The Herald (UK)
16. Chicago Tribune (USA)
17. LA Times (USA)
18. Miami Herald (USA)
19. New York Times (USA)
20. USA Today (USA)
21. Washington Post (USA)
22. Beijing Times (China)
23. China Daily (China)
24. China Youth Daily (China)
25. Chongqing Morning (China)
26. Dongjiang Daily (China)
27. Guangzhou Daily (China)
28. People's Daily (China)
29. Tibetan Business Daily (China)
30. United Daily (China-Taiwan)
31. Western China Metropolitan (China)
32. Xinmin Evening (China)
33. Yangzhou Daily (China)
Latin America & Spain:
34. Clarín (Argentina)
35. La Nación (Argentina)
36. La Razon (Argentina)
37. Estado de S. Paolo (Brazil)
38. Folha De S. Paulo (Brazil)
39. El Mercurio (Chile)
40. La Tercera (Chile)
41. El Tiempo (Colombia)
42. La Jornada (Mexico)
43. Milenio Diario (Mexico)
44. El Universal (Mexico)
45. La Prensa (Panama)
46. La Prensa (Paraguay)
47. Ultima Hora (Paraguay)
48. El Mundo (Spain)
49. La Vanguardia (Spain)
50. El País (Uruguay)
51. El Universal (Venezuela)
52. Daily Nation (Kenya)
53. The Namibian Windhoek (Namibia)
54. Beeld (S. Africa)
55. Die Burger (S. Africa)
56. The Cape Times (S. Africa)
57. The Citizen (S. Africa)
58. The Times Johannesburg (S. Africa)
59. Daily Monitor (Uganda)
India & South Korea:
60. The Asian Age (India)
61. Dainik Bhaskar (India)
62. The Hindu (India)
63. Hindustan Times (India)
64. The Indian Express (India)
65. Times of India-Mumbai (India)
66. Times of India-Delhi (India)
67. Dong-A Ilbo (S. Korea)
68. Maeil Business Newspaper (S. Korea)
The study assessed newspapers from the following 29 countries:
20. Saudi Arabia
21. South Africa
22. South Korea
26. United Kingdom