David McGillivray

Professor, interested in events, culture, digital participation & sport.


#media2012, Mega Events & New Media: Reflections from Aarhus

This week I had the pleasure of attending the Play the Game “Challenges for Football” conference at Aarhus University.  Hosted by the Active Institute, I was invited to present a keynote on the theme of mega events and new media, with a particular focus on the #media2012 initiative which UWS colleagues Professor Andy Miah, Jennifer Jones and I are leading on in the UK.  My presentation was located within a tract titled Innovation/Technology and I will talk here predominantly of the discussions which took place between participants in those sessions.  You can access my presentation here, but it is worth summarising my main arguments, via the conclusions.  I argued that “boundaries are blurring between new and mainstream media as each extends reach into others’ territory. There is evidence of the (successful) appropriation of new media by the corporate sport-media nexus and the resultant tsunami of narratives serves to reduce ‘space’ for alternative discourses. Yet, conversely, controlling the mega event message is increasingly difficult as established broadcast media strategies collide with the networking capacity of web 2.0 (and 3.0) and the popularity of social software to communicate alternative readings of events quickly. Initiatives like #media2012 provide an alternative ‘space’ (and platform) to report mega events, free of ‘imposed’ guidelines and restricted editorial control – but these initiatives also need to avoid falling into new media silos or bubbles whereby they reside only within restricted frame and reify online spaces to the detriment of other ways of being”.  I think we’re seeing the ethos of new media (or social media) for citizen use being contested by powerful corporations and federations that fully understand the potential of these platforms whilst underestimating the problematic of ‘control’ within these new spaces.  

(Thanks to Alexander Zolotarev for the photo!)

Kristian Strobech (@kstrobech) & Nils Mulvad along with Rasmus Johnsen (@rjohnsen1) (see us all in the photo) are involved in a fascinating experiment which takes those aspiring to be professional journalists into the world of social media to report news about the U21 European Championships in Denmark ‘as it happens’.  Students were granted exemptions from their studies for a month to cover the championships and embraced various social media tools and platforms to produce interactive, immediate and, most importantly, quality coverage of the event.  Kristian and Nils illustrated the innovative nature of the project during their presentation.


They have also developed a rather cool Storify site which curates the content being produced by students and, again, provides lessons for how our #media2012 project can come to fruition through our interactions with FE and HE media/journalism centres. I really liked the idea that trained ‘professional’ journalists had recognised the transformative power of social media and, rather than reject it out of hand, they embraced it and developed a unique approach that we can all learn from.  I’m looking forward to working with these guys in the near future…

To close, the conference was advertised as being about the challenges of football but I was fortunate enough to be part of two sessions which were more concerned with the challenges created by, and facing, social media for journalists, mega events, citizens and corporations. International networks can only be sustained if there is a reason for being together and a shared commitment to pursue meaningful projects for all partners.  I think we’ve got the potential to use the ease of connectivity that social media provides to make this emerging network very real for all concerned.  Thanks to beautiful Aarhus for bringing us together.




David McGillivray • June 24, 2011

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