Sport for all: sport event promotion in local mass media

Sport for all: sport event promotion in local mass media


PhD, Associate Professor A.N. Grishanina
Dr.Sc.Pol., Professor G.S. Mel'nik
PhD, Associate Professor N.O. Sveshnikova
St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg

Keywords: public sport events, mass media, municipal press, healthy lifestyle promotion, public education, sport event promotion technology.

Background. With the popular sports and the patriotic movement being on the rise for the last few years and the national government and communities giving higher priority to physical culture development in Russia, sport science has been showing a growing interest in the matters of mass media mobilization to support the healthy lifestyle promotion initiatives. The Strategy of Development of Physical Culture and Sports in the Russian Federation in the Period up to 2020 sets forth the objective and missions of the national policies in the sport sector, with a special emphasis on the ethical values of sports and the Olympic movement being promoted by the local mass media organizations. This mission, however, cannot be successfully performed unless due monitoring of the public information domain is established with the local press being viewed as a highly important media resource in the healthy nation culturing process.

It is the local mass media that is fully aware of the needs and problems of the local communities and, hence, may efficiently focus its efforts on the local people’s agendas, cater for aspirations of the local communities and meet their fundamental expectations in the sport sector [4, 5]. It should be noted that this mass media cluster has been on the rise for the last few years. District and municipal periodicals are increasingly active as players on the information fields of the local mass media organizations. Furthermore, the areal periodicals distributed across the local communities have their advantages in target presenting the facts and events of local importance and, therefore, being of special interest for the local community.

The topic of media communications being of influence on the physical culture and sports movements is not new for the theoretical discourse. Many researchers have considered sport periodicals as important contributors to the educational, sociological and government activities (I.N. Akramovskiy, V.F. Asaulov, V.F. Veselov, A.A. Lyulevich, A.V. Oganesyan, V.S. Rodichenko et al.). Study reports by K.A. Alexeyev and S.N. Il’chenko [1] partially explored the matters of sports and physical culture movements being influenced by the local mass media organizations (MMO). Of high methodological value and support for us were the works by P.A. Vinogradov and Y.A. Okun’kov [2, 3] based on the broad-based sociological study data and offering the ways to improve the informational support of every subject active in the physical education sector. However, none of the available studies has considered contributions of the local media to this process.

Objective of the study was to identify and analyze problems of the modern sport coverage by the mass media with an emphasis on the local media; and explore potentials of the local information and public communication resources in the healthy lifestyles and physical culture promotion initiatives in urban population of the megalopolis.

Methods and structure of the study. At the first stage of the study, we completed a pilot survey of the existing infrastructure of the informational websites and district/ municipal printed periodicals covering physical culture and sports in close communication with the local audience in the city of Saint Petersburg. In the period of September 10, 2015 to February 10, 2016, subject to monitoring under the study were 11 district government websites and the central website of the Saint Petersburg Municipal Government, each of the websites featuring some sport sections; 111 public information platforms of the local municipalities; 15 printed district newspapers covering city affairs; and 80 municipal printed periodicals. Subject to a special study were the issues of “Moy Rayon" newspaper including special inserts and special editions for every district of the city (the periodical was founded by Schibsted Media Concern, one of the largest European media companies).

The editions subject to the study included weekly and monthly periodicals. A set of key markers (including “sport”, “physical culture”, “physical activity”, “healthy lifestyle”, “competition”, “sport discipline”, “contest” etc.) were used to find 300 publications on the subject matters. The key subjects for our analysis were the focus, content and typical designs of the sport-related materials.

Study results and discussion. The study and analyses have showed the following: the total circulation of the local editions comes to more than 1 million copies, and most of the editions are distributed freely; and this fact is deemed to be indicative of the mass coverage of the Saint Petersburg population by the periodicals.

Furthermore, the monitoring has found the following: persistent trend towards the local websites playing an increasingly important role in the thematic coverage of different local population groups; increased efficiency of the physical culture, sports and healthy lifestyle promotion initiatives; and a few specific trends in the physical culture, sports and healthy lifestyle promotion standards being improved in their forms and contents.

Our monitoring has found that the permanent rubrics, thematic sections and pages covering local physical activities within the districts are designed to perform the following functions: ideological i.e. the healthy lifestyle promotion function; axiological that means that every form of the event coverage will be designed to form a healthy lifestyle viewed as a prime value; integration meaning that every report and information on the ongoing competitions will unite the local people; elucidation (for example, Narvskaya Zastava Newspaper covers, in addition to the traditional and national Russian mass sports like skiing and gorodki – events in oriental martial arts, ice boating sport, sport dancing, sport orienteering events etc.); cultural heritage coverage function that implies featuring veteran/ memorial competitions, for example the Open Championship of Saint Petersburg Veterans in Marine Combined Events). Most of the studied materials (90%) covering local physical culture and sport events were presented in newspapers using visual and textual presentation formats. The texts are normally supported by photographs and occasionally by links to videos in the social networks featuring the real events in the local district of importance for cultural values of one or another local community.

Most of the municipal editions normally devote a few publications to local sport competitions, tournaments and contests. The Vesti Kurortnogo Rayona, Yekateringofsky Vestnik, Komendantsky Aerodrom, Malaya Okhta, Novoizmaylovskiy Meridian, Pulkovskiy Meridian, Kronshtadskiy Vestnik, Tsarskoselskaya Gazeta and Slavyanka Segodnia Newspapers never miss a chance to inform the local communities on every health/ sport initiative in their districts using a variety of formats including news columns, announcements, reports and scenes (less common). There is a clear trend in the local media to report local physical culture and sport events on at least a monthly basis, albeit we have found no systemic approach in the coverage by rubrics. Our analyses have found that the municipal media is in the process of public communication with what we would provisionally call “health subjects”. The health subjects for the purposes of the study mean the sport actors including the district sport activists/ athletes competing on the local sport grounds; subjects of the local sport industry engaged in the sport goods/ service promotion activity, announcements on newly constructed sport facilities; district/ municipal government actors making decisions of importance for the local sport movements etc.

The content analysis of the subject materials showed the following: the efforts to elucidate the local communities help activate the local physical culture and sport process. As demonstrated by the readers’ feedbacks and comments published in the local newspapers and on websites, the local communities show a growing interest to both the traditional and new sport disciplines and high willingness to adhere to healthy lifestyles and contribute to mass sport events, including local football competitions, ski races “Lyzhnya Rossii”, patriotic races, sport veterans’ longevity movements, winter rock climbing events etc.

It should be noted at the same time that still much work needs to be done in the available resources being fully employed to facilitate the physical culture movement being mobilized to help solve the social, economic, cultural and health improvement problems of the local communities and promote genuine values of physical culture; provide basic knowledge to the local communities on physical culture, hygiene and health medicine to support their health and cultural initiatives and contribute to the active labour activity reasonably combined with recreation [2]. The preliminary analysis has demonstrated the following: dominance of news formats in the coverage; insufficient coverage of the subject events by comprehensive articles, analytical and education materials; excessive simplicity of the information presenting styles; inadequate coverage of the events by visual materials that may be of detriment for their cognitive values, particularly when the materials give little coverage of the leading sport personalities, groups, organizations, behavioural models of the leading athletes etc. [4]. It should be noted that sport activists, athletes and coaches are still poorly involved in the sport problems coverage activities. On the whole, the efforts to bring a new quality to the physical culture movement promotion by the local mass media are still limited by the poor supply of highly professional editors and journalists and by the still insufficient feedback from the readers and other sport communication actors.

The study has resulted in a few recommendations. We recommend, for the physical activity promotion objectives being attained on a more efficient basis, that the local municipal governments and media organizations should pay more attention to the key motivations of the local residents for motor activities, since the forced forms of physical culture and sport competitive activities will never help form sustainable healthy-lifestyle-centred agendas in the local communities. Our analysis of the local media materials showed that the local residents consider the spiritual and ethical aspects of the physical culture movement and healthy lifestyle being no less important than the physical activity promotion aspects.

Conclusion. The study gave the means to build up a multisided scientific database on the potential resources of the local media organizations that may be mobilized to: develop efficient mass sports promotion policies; make the public sport promotion/ information initiatives better targeted on specific groups of the local population; improve the thematic content control, adjustment and management process in the editorial activity. 


  1. Alekseev K.A. Sportivnaya zhurnalistika. Ch. 2. (Sport Journalism. Part 2) / K.A. Alekseev, S.N. Il'chenko. – St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg State University Faculty of Journalism, 2010. – 207 p.
  2. Vinogradov P.A. Monitoring propagandy fizicheskoy kul'tury i sporta i zdorovogo obraza zhizni sredstvami massovoy informatsii (Monitoring of promotion of physical culture and sport and healthy lifestyle in media) / P.A. Vinogradov, Yu.V. Okunkov. – Moscow: Sovetskiy sport, 2012. – 180 p.
  3. Vinogradov P.A. O sostoyanii i tendentsiyakh razvitiya fizicheskoy kul'tury i massovogo sporta v Rossiyskoy Federatsii (po rezul'tatam sotsiologicheskikh issledovaniy) (On status and trends of development of physical culture and public sports in the Russian Federation (based on sociological research results) / P.A. Vinogradov, Yu.V. Okunkov. – Moscow: Sovetskiy sport, 2013. – 144 p.
  4. Voytik E.A. Mediaprostranstvo sportivnoy kommunikatsii: kontseptual'ny podkhod v ponimanii sushchnosti (Sport communication media space: conceptual approach to understanding of the essence) / E.A. Voytik // Vestnik S.-Peterb. gos. un-ta (Bulletin of St. Petersburg State Univ.). Ser. 9. – St. Petersburg, 2014. – № 1. – P. 235–247.
  5. Svitich L.G. Metodologicheskie predposylki sistemnogo issledovaniya gorodskikh gazet (Methodological preconditions of systems research of city newspapers) / L.G. Svitich, O.V. Smirnova, A.A. Shiryaeva, M.V. Shkondin // Voprosy teorii i praktiki zhurnalistiki. – 2015. – V. 4. – № 1. – P. 5–19.

Corresponding author:

The article considers the contribution of the local mass media organizations to the popular mass sports organizing and promoting initiatives and the healthy lifestyle encouragement efforts. Local mass media organizations hold critically important positions in the national media landscape of Russia being responsible for public communication, local community consolidation, local popular resource mobilization in the economic, social and cultural domains etc. However, their influences on the physical and spiritual development of the local communities appear to be underestimated at present.
Preliminary surveys of the local mass media organizations show that these media clusters are being actively developed, albeit they are still not efficient enough in promoting the local sports as exclusive values of highest importance for consolidation, activation and patriotic education of the local people.
At the first stage of the pilot survey, our objective was to set forth the key markers to rate the physical culture and sports covering texts; we explored the existing infrastructure of the local mass media organizations and the websites covering physical culture and sports in communication with the local audience in the city of Saint Petersburg; analyzed 12 official websites of the municipal district governments; 111 public information platforms of the local municipalities; 80 municipal printed periodicals etc. The article reports the positive and negative aspects we have found in the sport promotion activity of the local mass media organizations.