An analysis of mainstream, black, and Communist press coverage of Jesse Owens in the 1936 Berlin Olympic games by Pamela C. Laucella.
This research examines the mainstream, black, and Communist press coverage of 1936 Olympic gold medallist Jesse Owens. It compares articles from mainstream newspapers to the black press and Communist press to elucidate the interplay between journalists, media content, and 1930s culture.The study reveals the potency of language and discourse in influencing readers' perceptions of events and individuals. The writers' crafting of words, phrases, and sentences within their narratives influenced the pictures individuals created about the Berlin Olympic Games and Jesse Owens. The writers' themes included: “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “By George, They're Just Faster and Have More Rhythm,” “Black Auxiliaries,” NOT!, Brotherhood of Black Athletes, and “Liberty and Justice for All.” Throughout the coverage, the writers framed Owens as a hero, Owens as a uniter, and Owens as a black pearl.While all recognized Owens' talent and gracious deportment, the mainstream writers' patriotic, evasive, descriptive, and stylistic approach focused on surrounding scenes, racial stereotypes, and alleged variances between the races. The mainstream journalists used embellishment and optimistic words to sustain the heartfelt pride in American athletes while reinforcing the status quo regarding race. The journalists at the black press remained passive yet resolute in emphasizing Owens' place in history while denouncing Adolph Hitler and Nazism. The black press used fewer adornments and instead focused on uniting their readers behind the black athletes through positive words of encouragement and an enthusiastic attitude. The journalists at the Communist press were forthright and forceful in style, yet intimate and personal in tone. They used caustic comments and words to incite action. They deprecated Hitler and the Nazis and everything for which they stood, including their propaganda, racial supremacy logic, and ideologies. They exhibited solidarity in their commitment to equality for all individuals in all areas of life and described Owens as a humble man, a fighter, and a proud American.
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