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Newspaper coverage of women's sports

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by reformedhack, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Harvard University's Nieman Foundation issues a report slamming newspapers for marginalizing women's sports. Not exactly a new criticism, just the latest.

    "As newsroom staffs shrink and eyeballs measure interest, women’s sports coverage is losing ground it once seemed to be gaining." (http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/article/102529/A-Shrinking-Sports-Beat-Womens-Teams-Athletes.aspx)

    The phone lines are open.
  2. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Yep, had a thread on this not too long ago. It's a competitive business, and what would you rather read? Our paper didn't run much women's college basketball this winter (too little space, too many other things higher up the totem pole), but jumped on board for the NCAA Tournament.

    Last summer, ditched the WNBA roundups as well.

    I know in our case, and I suspect most others, it was more about prioritizing space than any gender bias.

    Makes me wonder why girls sports and boys sports get almost identical treatment at the high school level.
  3. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    Coverage is always dictated by interest. If it were an across-the-board anti-woman screed, then we'd never make a big deal about women's gymnastics or figure skating or tennis, yet at their highest levels they get as much or more coverage than their male counterparts. Becuase as many more people care about it.

    All of my closest friends that are a) girls and b) sports fans have almost no interest in women's sports. As one of them put it: "Just because I'm a chick doesn't mean I want to watch women play sports. That's kinda sexist, really." One of them is a UConn women's basketball fan, but she was born and raised up there, so there's that.
  4. JakeandElwood

    JakeandElwood Well-Known Member

    My old paper did a great job of balancing boys and girls preps but devoted basically no space to women's college basketball (probably ran some stuff on the final four etc.) or the WNBA. We got very few complaints.
  5. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    When it comes to preps, it's probably fair to cover both genders of a sport equally since the interest is probably going to be even among the smaller sports. And while girls basketball usually lags behind boys basketball, there's still more interest there than in any other girls sport by far, so I've no qualms with giving them a decent run there.
  6. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    Take football out of the mix, and all our coverage is split pretty equal with a slight edge going to girls high school basketball over the boys. Our local girls teams are far superior to our boys. That's where the interest is. At high school games, a good portion of the crowd leaves as soon as the girls finish. A good bit of those that stick around for the boys leave at halftime, meaning you only have the parents around for the end.

    College basketball is a fair split, too. The men's championship was the lead story yesterday, the women's today with about down to the letter identical layout.
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    My place, we pretty much have given up all of the major women's sports. When we ran them -- and we ran them big for a while -- nobody read them.

    It's a continuing chicken-egg argument, of course, but when you do all the work for several years, and certainly a lot of interesting things were happening in women's college basketball, and nobody's reading, you can only try to be the chicken (or is it the egg) for so long. The numbers didn't reflect any interest, we were putting a lot of resources into it that could be used elsewhere, and we were getting nothing in return. I wish it weren't so, but it was, and that was the bottom line.
  8. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Sounds like the committee calling for a correction of this shameful trend is the same one that has taken it upon itself to decide how much women's hoops coaches are paid as their sport loses hundreds of millions of dollars. God forbid coverage (and salaries) would ever match up to real-world market demand.
  9. Bamadog

    Bamadog Well-Known Member

    We run women's basketball roundups with our in-state teams. We ran the NCAA championship game from last night above the fold.

    But we skip the WNBA. Nobody cares, at least not here.

    As far as preps are concerned, we tend to go with the best team or teams. In the past few years, when baseball was flagging, softball was a regular centerpiece/above the fold item and we wrote more features on softball (we had all three teams in the playoffs and one hosted a regional). With all three of the local teams struggling mightily and the baseball programs surging, we've backed away a bit. Same thing with basketball.

    It's not a diss thing. It's a space thing. You have to maximize what readers want. And they clearly don't care about the WNBA. Women's college basketball, especially the in-state teams, is another matter.
  10. MightyMouse

    MightyMouse Member

    Exactly. Even if interest in girls sports lags behind the boys (and that's not much of a stretch to assume), you can't use that to justify ignoring a local team.
  11. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    My biggest issue here isn't how much space women's sports get vs. men's sports. I look at the level of "even handed" coverage.

    Until it becomes acceptable to criticize female athletes/coaches/sports, I see most of their sports treated with nearly the same level of 'even handed' criticism as the Special Olympics.

    Look at the 1999 Women's World Cup in soccer. Amid all of the news (not sports) reporters going "live" around the clock from Pasadena, I didn't hear or read a story that said, "geez, this is great for the sports but it also shows the lack of real competition around the world. The U.S. team should be winning this." Instead, it had all of the gender objectivity of Lillith Fair.

    Any major men's college basketball coach knows criticism comes with part of it. Stand in any post-game news conference for a major women's college basketball coach. Are they challenged by the reporters? Strategies challenged? Asked for explanations? Not as much.

    Instead, most of these major women's hoops coaches make $500,000 a year, lose $900,000 a year for their school and are seldom held accountable when their teams go 11-19.
  12. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    Anyone know the traffic numbers for ESPNW.com?
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