Media Depictions of Violence during Mega-Events in Rio de Janeiro

Rachael Raye Hilderbrand


This paper examines how and why media depictions of communal violence occurring in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during recent mega-events differ between local community media, non-local domestic media, and non-Brazilian media. The paper examines violence accompanying recent mass protests, as well as gang violence and reported cases of police brutalities. The sample includes incidents reported as having occurred prior, during and immediately after the 2013 Confederation Cup and 2014 World Cup held in the city. In addition, the sample also covers current preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games.  Media data include local sources from within the city’s favelas including Rio on Watch, Jornal A Nova Democracia, and Redes da Maré; national sources include articles published by O Globo, O Dia and Jornal do Brasil. International media data focus on coverage by CNN, BBC, and FOX News. Based on comparative textual analysis through coding in NVivo, the paper demonstrates that the intensity of the depiction of violence as reported in these different media increases as the geographic scale of the news source increases. Local news sources portray violence in the context of these mega-events in a more measured light than both national and international media. The paper thus demonstrates that proximity of the media source to violence matters for the latter’s depiction, and supports current research showing the effects of variable depictions of violence and how mass media’s exaggeration plays a significant role in generalizing beliefs about who is creating violence and what violence is occurring in specific areas. This has important implications for local residents and media sources in regards to their role in the upcoming 2016 Olympics.


Violence; Media; Brazil

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