The way Olympic medals are reported among media outlets is inconsistent throughout the world.
Some countries count only gold medals when reporting, but the US lumps gold, silver and bronze medals all into one number.
Senior associate dean for Undergraduate Studies at the UNC School of Media and Journalism Charlie Tuggle wrote an article published to CNN about a new method developed to report winners with more accuracy.
“Either you’re going to go the way that most of the rest of the world goes and its only gold, which I think really shortchanges the second or third best athlete in that sport the world, or you’re going to with what you are doing, which is just lumping everything together,” Tuggle said. “And to me that doesn’t make any sense.”
According to Tuggle’s article, this inconsistency in reporting has led to more than one country reporting victories over each other in the past.
Tuggle says reports do not delineate between gold, silver and bronze, and he has helped develop a system at UNC that does just that.
The system is known as Medal Premium Calculations, or MPC, and allocates points based on the color of the medal, using a ratio of 5 to 3 to 2.
“You have to determine, well if it’s a ratio, what’s the proper ratio? I don’t know if 5-3-2 is the best or not, but it is based off at least some logic,” said Tuggle. “And it is that the USA pays its athletes $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000 for medals. So, the USOC has said, in a sense, that the ration is 5 to 3 to 2.”
Tuggle says an added benefit to this new system is that the numbers will allow for more statistics to be done to determine different measurements.
“All the big countries are sending 400, 500 athletes to the summer games, where some of the smaller countries send like 30 or 40. Well, that 40 cannot possibly compete with the 500, but in terms of, again, efficiency, then we can compare the big countries to the small countries.”
Tuggle says he hopes that at least one major outlet begins reporting Olympic medal counts in this way.
“Maybe it’s CNN, because CNN has now run this article, or maybe it’s NBC or maybe it’s USA Today, or the Associated Press. But that someone looks at this and says, ‘You know what? That’s very logical.’ And for me things have to be logical. And the two other systems, after looking at them, I’ve determined are not very logical,” said Tuggle.