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The Role of Journalist in Global Sporting Events:A Case Study of Boston Marathon Explosion

The Role of Journalist in Global Sporting Events:A Case Study of Boston Marathon Explosion
This research study will seek to investigate how journalists misinformed the public that the Boston Marathon explosions were because of a terrorist activity; it will seek to find out how the journalists influenced the perception of the public on the explosions. The study will be done qualitatively.  A total sample of 20 journalists and industry experts will be selected for the study. The methods of data collection will include interviews and telephone conversations. Data will be codified and thematically analyzed with Nvivo data analysis software.
1.    Chapter One: Introduction
1.1.    Background of the Study
With the increasing rate of politically motivated terrorism, big international events like sports are increasingly becoming some of the main targets of terrorist activities that have been a global risk, especially since the 9/11 attacks on the US soil (Parent & Smith-Swan, 2013). Many terrorists have targeted world sporting events, the most recent one being an attack during the Boston marathon, with their terrorist activities. This has attracted many security measures during global sporting events (Parent & Smith-Swan, 2013). Nonetheless, the way the rest of the world perceives the actual or perceived attacks greatly depends on journalists who are involved in the global media sports (Parent & Smith-Swan, 2013). Millions of people are not able to be at the sporting events; instead, they depend on the media to get information (Parent & Smith-Swan, 2013). This is what brings to question the role of sports journalism during sporting events as regards the perception of the public about explosions at sporting events, like Boston Marathon.
1.2.    Statement of the Problem
Journalists have been known to play a very significant role in linking the world with sports events, especially those who, instead of traveling to watch live sports events, decide to watch through televisions and get information through other media outlets, such as the social media (Delaney & Madigan, 2009). When there was an explosion that killed some few people and injured many others, journalists were quick to report on the happenings at the time, and the public received the information from different sources, including the social media. In many cases, the public would be made to perceive such explosions are being because of terrorism. A number of studies have explored this area. However, there not enough studies that have been conducted to reveal the reason journalists misinformed the public about the Boston Marathon explosions. This is what motivates this study.
1.3.    The Purpose
The purpose of this study will be to establish the reason journalists played misinformed the public to believe that the Boston Marathon explosions were due to terrorist activities.
1.4.    Objectives
a.    To conduct a literature review with a view to establishing how much research has been done with respect to the role of journalists in informing the public about breaking news.
b.    To evaluate how media industry experts perceived the reaction of journalists after the explosions at the Boston Marathon sporting event.
c.    To investigate the role played by journalists during preliminary stages of sporting events.
1.5.    Research questions and Hypothesis
1.5.1.    Research questions
a.    Was the misinformation about the Boston Marathon explosions deliberate?
b.    How do journalists influence security preparation during preliminary stages of a sporting event?
c.    How do journalists shape the public perception of terrorism during sports events?
1.5.2.    Hypothesis
a.    Journalists deliberately misinformed the public about the Boston Marathon explosions.
b.    Journalists only reported what they wanted the public to know.
c.    Failure to follow verification procedures was the reason journalists misinformed the public about the explosions at the Boston Marathon.
1.6.      Significance and Justification of the Study
The study is justified on the basis that not sufficient research studies that have been done with respect to the role of journalists during perceived or actual terrorist activities targeting world sports events, which is a significantly large gap that most researchers have not dealt with. The study will be important to all the stakeholders who would be interested in knowing the role played by journalists with regards to the terrorist attacks during world sports events. Besides, this study will form a basis for future studies to build on.
1.7.    Organization of the Study
This research study will be organized into five main chapters. Chapter 1 provides the background, statement of the problem, purpose, significance and justification, objectives, and research questions and hypotheses of the study. Chapter 2 regards the review of different literatures and research studies that have been done with respect to the subject of this study. In this respect, the reason for the review is to determine the extent to which the subject of this study has been researched. Chapter 2 also discusses the theoretical framework of the study. The formulation of the theoretical framework has been determined through the literature review process. Chapter three 3 discusses the different methods that will be used to achieve the objectives and answer the questions of this research study. It provides the specific strategies that will be crucial to the attainment of the purpose of this research study. Chapter 4 will present the finding and discussions of the research findings. This chapter will be written after the data will have been analyzed and interpreted. The discussion section of this chapter will be based on a comparison of the results of this study and those of the previous studies. The last chapter will be about conclusion and recommendations. It will discuss achievements of the research study process and provide recommendations, based on the results of the study.
2.    Chapter Two: Literature Review
There are sufficient publications about the risks facing world sports events. In this regard, Allen (2010) has contended that the provision of a safe and secure environment has been a priority for all stakeholders involved in the delivery of special or sporting events. This remains true as a number of previous studies show that the increasing profile of sports and property of sporting events has led to increased exposure to risks that directly affect sports participants, spectators and other stakeholders.
According to Hoffman (2013), the risks that are linked to sporting events have included hooliganism, adverse weather, vandalism, fraud, assault, failed logistics and, most importantly, terrorism. Terrorism has been mentioned Hoffman (2013) as being among the most common risks linked to world sports events and venues.
According to studies that were done by McGee (2012), the world sports organizers spend between $2 billion and $6 billion on an annual basis in making the sports events successful. With respect to security, a substantial amount of money is spent on protective measures, which include a system of physical protective systems, access control, crowd management, traffic control and staffing.
While contributing to the discourse, Fischer and Halibozek (2008) argue that the terrorist attacks that took place in the United States in 2001 had a major impact on the financial commitment to safety and security at major world and local sporting events. The foregoing researchers have further postulated that with the increasing threats of terrorism, the costs of ensuring security at major world sports events are bound to increase tremendously in the future.
Research studies that have been done by White (2011) have revealed that modern terrorism comes in many forms and shapes, which range from organized groups to single individuals acting on his or her individual agenda. In other studies, the motivations for terrorism include the desire of terrorists to harm and defeat superior forces, assert identity, command attention and to achieve future order by defeating the current one.
Maclntosh and Bravo (2011) have studied the link between sports and the media. According to the scholars, the effect of media upon sports is significant; the effects vary from changes made to sports equipment, match schedule, financial changes and sports venues. Other scholars note that the media and sports are two entities that have coexisted since the initiation of televisions, newspapers, radios and, now, the internet or Web 2.0.
Maclntosh and Bravo (2011) have also noted that the growth of television as a media outlet has managed to put the link between sports and the media in the public agenda. They further content that the media shapes how the public perceives the world in relation to the information they get through the mass media, which is picked and formulated by journalist who supply the information to the media. However, not so much has been done with respect to the way in which journalists pick information about terrorism during sporting events, package and transmit it to the media from where the members of the public get it. It is for this reason that this study will be grounded on the Agenda Setting Theory the media.
Journalists play a crucial role in informing the public. However, the authenticity of the information they provide to the public has always been questioned. Harris (2008) has argued that the members of the public are often concerned about the misinformation arising from poor journalistic practices. Harris (2008) further contends that misinformation is prevent in the context of politics. However, there is not sufficient information to establish that the same problem is experienced with respect to reporting terrorist actions during sporting events. As noted earlier, journalists play a significant role in agenda-setting through the media, especially the social media. In this respect, Everitt (2009) has claimed that journalists may be telling the members of the public only what they want them to believe.
According to Everitt (2009), a significant number of the members of the public believe that journalists generally misinform the public at the behest of very influential people, who objective is to achieve certain personal ends. In this respect, not sufficient confirmatory research studies seem to have been done to strengthen such a claim.
While contributing to the debate, Campana (2009) has contended that the members of the public, in many cases, have inaccurate information regarding what goes on in the country, especially with regard to issues that are related to security. Unfortunately, it has not yet been scientifically proven that the members of the public were misinformed about the attacks that were witnessed during the Boston marathon. Nonetheless, Campana has argued further that there are often risks of disinformation during disaster, especially where the cause of a disaster cannot be properly established.
In addition, Campana (2009) has explained that journalists who do not verify the information they obtain before publishing it often run the high risk of misinforming the members of the public. This argument insinuates that the misinformation is normally due to the lack of a proper verification mechanism. However, Henry (2007) holds a contrary opinion that some journalists know the truth, but end up twisting information and only give their own versions of stories to the public. In this regard, such journalists deliberately misinform the public with a view to driving certain agenda. Unfortunately, it cannot be established with precision whether this was the case with the information regarding the terrorist activities that were carried out during the Boston marathon.
2.1.    Theoretical Framework
This research study will be grounded on the Agenda Setting Theory. The agenda setting theory describes a significantly powerful influence of the media on the public agenda (Carrol, 2010). The core of agenda setting is the establishment of public awareness and concern of significant public issues by the news media (Carrol, 2010). Many scholars contend that agenda setting has progressed from the idea that the mass media play the role of determining the topics for the public. This implies that the media influence the behavior of the audience (Carrol, 2010).
It is further argued that the stream of agenda setting research emanated from many inquiries into the communication factors that entail an agenda setting effect; this includes how certain variables influence the process, and so on (Carrol, 2010).
The proponents of the agenda setting theory of the mass media propose that the primary assumption of the theory is that, whether consciously or unconsciously, the mass media create a certain image of reality (Carrol, 2010). Therefore, the agenda setting process lends its focus to the topics the media presents to the audience and on how selected information is presented to the public (Carrol, 2010). Moreover, this theory is concerned with how the media’s legitimization of matters and events affects the public’s perception of reality (Carrol, 2010).
However, the Agenda Setting Theory has been criticized on a number of grounds. One of the criticisms is that the theory does not deal with the question of how consumers utilize the information; instead, it deals with what the media does to the consumers of information (Campbell, 2009). In this case, the theory is seen to be one-sided and does not take into account all stakeholders in the generation and consumption of the public agenda (Campbell, 2009). Some critics also argue that the theory only affects some people during specific times. For instance, it is argued that when the media decides to concentrate on political issues, then the rest who do not have an interest in politics are neglected by the media (Campbell, 2009).
3.    Chapter Three: Research Methodology
3.1.    Research Design
Even though scientists have hailed a quantitative research as an objective approach to research, this study will utilize a qualitative research design (Merriam, 2009). One of the advantages of a qualitative research design is that it is relatively cheaper than a quantitative research design (Merriam, 2009). Besides, it is more relevant than its quantitative counterpart is when studying subtle nuances in the attitudes and behaviors of the phenomena under study. Therefore, its primary strength is in the depth of understanding that it allows a researcher to have during a research study (Merriam, 2009).
3.2.    Case Study
The study will be conducted in the context of the Boston Marathon sports events that took place in the US recently. Like some of the sports events that have taken place around the world in the past, the Boston also became a victim of terrorist attacks. As usual, the media were also involved during the marathon events. Therefore, this research will study how the journalists who reported the attacks in the media shaped the perception of the public in relation to the attacks that left a number of people dead and several others injured and maimed.
3.3.    Target Population
The study will target journalists whose main tasks involve reporting sports information during world sports events. Since this study will be investigating the roles played by journalists during terrorist attacks at sporting events, it will only be appropriate to involve sports journalists as the respondents.
3.4.        Sampling Technique
The process of selecting individuals to participate in the study will utilize a purposive sampling technique. This sampling technique is also known as selective, subjective or judgmental sampling (Blankenship, 2010). One of the advantages of this sampling method is that it allows a researcher to select the sources of data he or she seeks (Blankenship, 2010). It is especially most appropriate where the researcher needs specific information from specific people; in the case of this study, journalists are the most relevant people in the study since they are the once concerned with the reporting to the world the happenings at sports events (Blankenship, 2010). The sample population will be constituted by 20 individual journalists who will be picked from amongst those who participated in covering and reporting the events of the Boston Marathon and the media experts who were aware of the happenings at the Boston Marathon.
3.5.    Methods of Data Collection
This study will utilize triangulated methods of data collection. In this case, the data collection process will involve the use of interviews and telephone conversations. Interviews have been known to constitute one of the most appropriate data collection techniques in qualitative studies (Marlow, 2010). One of its strengths is that it is an open way of collecting data and this allows respondents to provide as much information as possible. This is because interviews are not as restrictive as closed questionnaires (Marlow, 2010). Therefore, interviews have been selected to allow the research process to probe for as much information as required for the achievement of the research objectives (Marlow, 2010).
Telephone conversations will also be used as a method of data collection. The choice to use this method has been informed by the fact that some of the respondents to be involved in the study will not be physically accessible (Forrester, 2010). Therefore, telephone conversations, though relatively expensive, will be used to collect data from the respondents. One of the strengths of a telephone conversation is that the conversation process takes place in respondents’ own environment where they are free to provide their views. Besides, it is time saving and efficient in terms of logistics (Forrester, 2010). During telephone conversations, a cellphone with call recording application will be used to capture the entire conversations. The reason for recording the conversations is to make it easy for the researcher to listen to them later and perform accurate analyses.
3.6.    Research Ethical Issues
Since this study will involve collection of primary data from human beings, it is anticipated that there will be some ethical issues. In this case, it is important to point out that the study will observe some specific ethical requirements to avoid possible conflicts following its completion. First, the research participants will be informed about the reason for the study. After this, their consent will be sought in a verbal form. Coercion or deception will not be used to lure anybody to either participate or provide information during the study.
In addition, the identity of the participants will be concealed where a participant will make a request to the effect or in cases where participants may provide sensitive information that may victimize them.
The participants will be allowed to participate in the study at will. In this case, they will be allowed to decide whether they will want to stay in the study until the end or stop their participation without the fear of repression. The data collected will be kept away from third parties and thereafter disposed after three months. More importantly, the study will only begin after obtaining permission from the relevant college authority.
3.7.    Data Analysis Process
Two methods of data collection that will be used to gathered qualitative data: interviews and telephone conversations, which mean that different forms of data will be collected. Therefore, the data that will be collected from telephone conversations will be transcribed. Besides, the data that will have been recorded on interview sheets will be cleaned by removing unwanted or redundant information. After the process, both sets of data will be harmonized together to be analyzed together.  After the harmonization, the researcher will go through the texts to identify emergent themes and the specific patterns within the themes.
The themes will be coded according to their common meanings. In this respect, the coded themes will be entered into a computer system with the Nvivo data analysis software, mainly for purposes of enhancing the efficiency of data analysis, storage and retrieval. The data will be analyzed, and the findings will be interpreted and presented in different forms: frequency tabulations, charts and tables. Besides, the presentation will include a narrative form to explain the meaning of the research study results.
3.8.    Epistemological and Ontological Foundation
Epistemology is defined as a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, approaches, and the limits of human knowledge. It is the study of knowledge (Hannes & Lockwood, 2011). There are two main concerns of epistemology as a branch of philosophy: the nature of knowledge and the extent of human knowledge. With respect to the nature of knowledge, the focus is on the understanding of what knowledge entails (Hannes & Lockwood, 2011). Regarding the extent of human knowledge, the concern is with respect to extent to which a human being is knowledgeable about some phenomena. Overall, epistemology can he referred to as a theory of knowledge.
Therefore, the epistemological foundation of this research study will be constructivism. The epistemological underpinning in constructivism is that a researcher and participants are linked together during the process of constructing knowledge, which implies that both the researcher and participants collaborate during the generation of knowledge (Hannes & Lockwood, 2011). In the context of constructivism, the ontological underpinning is relativism in nature, because all the truth is constructed by human beings and placed within a historical moment and social context. In this regard, it is important to note that multiple meanings may exist within the same set of data (Hannes & Lockwood, 2011).
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Campbell, D. (2009). Theoretical Assessments of Pretrial Publicity Effects: A Pioneering Attempt at Measuring the Tendency of Agenda-setting Statements and Framing Interpretations to Produce Assumptions of Guilt. Ann Arbor: ProQuest.
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Appendix: Interview Questions
Date of interview: ____________________
1.    Tell me what you understand by the term “terrorism.”
2.    The Boston Marathon tragedy was reported by many journalists. What is your perception of how it was reported?
3.    Explain whether you believe journalists verified the information through official channels before reporting to the public.
4.    Explain to me the reason many journalists found it appropriate to label and report the explosion as the work of a terrorist.
5.    Tell me how journalistic ethics informed your reporting of the Boston Marathon attacks.
6.     In your opinion, what were the barriers to obtaining the right information about the explosion? How did you deal with the barriers personally?
7.    What is your opinion about the information provided by social media users? Do you agree with their claim of accuracy?
8.    Do you think the misinformation by journalists about the explosions was deliberate? Briefly explain.
9.    How do the security personnel involve journalists during security planning? How does this affect your perception about terrorism?
1.    In your opinion, do you think the reports that the explosions were because of a terrorist act? Did journalists exaggerate the news about the explosions?
2.    What is your perception of how journalists rushed to report about the explosions?
3.    In light of the previous question, what do you think the journalists should have done first before reporting to the public about the explosions?
4.    As an industry expert, do you think journalists report with a view to informing the public about an issue or they simply report what they want the public to know?
5.    Explain how security agencies collaborate with journalists during sporting events, such as the Boston Marathon.
6.    What do you think is the source of the claim for inaccuracy in reporting the Boston Marathon explosions?
7.    Do you think journalists deliberately misled the public about the explosion? Briefly explain.

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