Mediated Melodramas and Network Nationalism: The 1996 Summer Games
Several factors distinguish the media coverage of the 1996 Summer Games from coverage of previous Olympic Games. Perhaps the most prominent distinction was the use of the Internet to supplement, perhaps even enhance, typical television, radio, and print coverage. NBC, which enjoyed exclusive television rights to the Games, sponsored its own World Wide Web site, featuring programming notes, event updates, Olympic trivia, and on-line chat rooms with celebrity athletes. Similarly, the New York Times, along with several other news organizations, such as The Atlanta Constitution, conducted their own on-line forums, inviting interactive participation from Olympic fans and spectators. Times sports columnist Robert Lipsyte ( 1996, July 28) hosted an on-line forum on the newspaper's Web site, "the best of" which he offered to readers in his Times print commentary. He described the typical cyber spectator as having "one hand clutching the TV remote and one hand pushing the mouse" and offered observations on everything from the prominence of female athletes to the commercialization of the Games (Sec. 8, p. 9).
However, one of the most profound observations was offered by a Hungarian journalist who was "angry and frustrated" watching NBC and characterized its coverage as a "network soap opera mixed with pseudo-patriotic sentimentalism" (Lipsyte, 1996, July 28, Sec. 8, p. 9). The journalist then went on to compare the United States television coverage with the '"period of controlled press in