Off the Field and into the Media Spotlight (or not)

It’s no secret that there is a far greater ratio of televised news media of men’s sport in comparison to women’s, but exactly how big is that gap and what role does the media play in it?

Between January 2008 and July 2009, men’s sport made up a whopping 81.1% of Australian sports coverage in televised news media, whilst women’s made up only 8.7%. Given the fact that women’s sport makes up for only 7% of overall televised sports coverage, these statistics aren’t surprising, but that doesn’t make them any less concerning. These statistics haven’t changed either, with women’s sport televised news coverage being at 6% and overall televised coverage being at 7% in 2014. With the constant push for gender equality across all aspects of society, why isn’t the gap in sports news media getting any smaller?

Back to Basics

At its roots, the gender gap in sports news media is an issue of representation, wherein females are severely underrepresented. This isn’t an issue which is exclusive to sports news media, however it is one that is highly prevalent in the field.

The Ethics of it all

The MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics states that journalists should

“not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics”

which includes gender. With such a large gap between the coverage of female sports news and male, it’s hard to believe that there isn’t some degree of emphasis being placed on the gender of Australian athletes.

It Starts with the Journalists

Sports journalists are responsible for curating the sports news coverage we receive on a daily basis, so in a way, they are almost entirely responsible for the gap in men’s and women’s coverage (although other factors certainly play a part). That means that the issue of beginning to rectify the problem lays with the journalists, which, conveniently, appear to be majority male. In today’s society, it is reasonable to suggest that if women aren’t being given the opportunity to report on sport (both male and female), that the disparity between men’s and women’s sports media isn’t going to get any smaller.  For journalists, it is important that they make an attempt to rectify this gap, which can be done by hiring more female sports reporters and including more news stories and coverage of women’s sport on the regular as a part of all news mediums.

The Bigger Picture

The severe gap in men’s and women’s sport coverage isn’t just an ethical issue within media fields, but it can also have an impact on inequality for women within society as a whole. Sport is such a significant part of the Australian lifestyle, so the fact that women are not being given the representation they deserve will to continue to have a damaging effect on the overall equality of genders within Australian society.

What’s being done? 

Obviously, inequality in sport isn’t just a media issue, so there are already campaigns in place which are working to get more women involved in sport (eg. Girls Make Your Move). With the help of such campaigns, hopefully the gap between men’s and women’s sport both in the news and on the field will eventually be erased.

Catch ya on the flip side,

Jess x