OPINIONPeople Daily

Media World Cup coverage a game changer for Russia

Julius Kinyeki

The media is an important agent in the society and serves the public by providing key information. It also influences the audience in a number of ways through informing, agenda setting, framing and persuading. But the accuracy of this notion, however, rests on the way the messages are decoded by consumers.

In the next one month, the media focus will be on Russia reporting about the World Cup tournament and its performance will invariably come under sharp scrutiny.

And because it’s the primary source through which people become aware of the world, interpretation—the presentation, they provide and understanding of the events occurring—valuation and de-valuation different issues and identities, thus offering an evaluative framework.

In reporting of mega sporting events such as the Olympics or the World Cup, the media contingent at the event is substantial.

World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, involving 32 teams competing in 64 matches over a period of one month in the host nation every four years. In and outside the host nation, there will be the participants, spectators, government, organisers, communities, media, sponsors, medical staff and volunteers.

As Russia hosts this year’s tournament it’s aware this is a hallmark event, developed to primarily to enhance awareness, appeal and profitability of a tourist destination in the short and/or long term. The success depends on how the media will report about its uniqueness, status and ability to attract attention to leave a legacy.

The 2010 Fifa World Cup tournament in South Africa was watched by close to 26 billion people, while the Brazil tourney in 2014 was viewed 32 billion people. The number is expected to increase in Russia. Working with the media, the nation hosting the tournament has an opportunity to profile the country economically, socially and politically.

By hosting the tournament, nations expect media to help to them build a brand. The publicity the tournament attracts and the presence of advertising messages should raise the profile of the hosting nation, thus adding salience to its brand.

The assumption is that the tournament publicity supports the destination’s association with the tournament. For the destination’s brand to be promoted, the messages delivered must foster a brand image that is consistent with what the destination seeks.

The media’s role is not only to report on tournament but also frame and interpret how the tournament and the host nation is viewed, both nationally and internationally. This plays an important role in shaping people’s perceptions and images about the nation.

In the next one month, the public will learn about the relative importance of football in the society through the amount of coverage the tournament will receive. Thus, the more coverage the tournament receives, the more concern the public will have with the future World Cup tournaments. – Writer is  acting chairman, Media Council of Kenya —[email protected]

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