Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Journalism and Media Studies

First Committee Member

Kevin Stoker

Second Committee Member

Benjamin Burroughs

Third Committee Member

David Nourse

Fourth Committee Member

Tara Emmers-Sommer

Number of Pages



Rock climbing, a distinguished and culturally relevant ‘extreme’ sport, has experienced a remarkable increase in popularity and media attention. Sparse research has been conducted on the impact of social media presentation and how it may inspire athletes to intensify risks. This element introduces a paradox in the evolving nature of extreme sports that warrants a deeper examination; Can the authenticity of a private, individualized sport be retained in a social space dedicated to public spectacle? By method of documentary and inspired by a descriptive phenomenological approach, this research explores the meanings, motivations and risk perceptions of rock climbers to discover if the presence of a camera and the digital presentation of spectacular climbing achievements have propelled a significant shift in the relationship practitioners have with their sport.

This non-traditional thesis is divided into four segments; a literature review, phenomenology as an objective approach, documentary as a creative thesis method and a conclusion revealing the findings of the documentary. In-depth interviews conducted with rock climbers of different ethnicities, genders, generations and levels of expertise along with scholars from the fields of sports psychology, sociology and anthropology contributed to a comprehensive conversation about the impact media has had on the sport. Climbers acknowledge and embrace that the digital presentation of climbing has become a legitimate and necessary feature in the culture of climbing and are mostly welcoming of how media inspires climbers to push boundaries and has directly impacted the democratization of the sport. While some find an ease in sharing the joy of their experiences, others find it unnatural, but necessary, transcending the burdensome minutia and negativity with the aspects of media they do enjoy.


Documentary; Extreme Sports; Presentation; Rock Climbing; Social Media; Sports


Broadcast and Video Studies | Journalism Studies

File Format


File Size

.565 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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