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'13 Game Changers: How The Media Covers Women's Sports
Published September 11, 2013
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND? Another hot topic yesterday was ESPN’s female-focused vertical, espnW, which is promoted as “a destination for women who are passionate sports fans and athletes.” Stiegman responded to criticism that his network had created a “digital ghetto” for women’s sports programming. “I’ve heard that complaint from time to time and I entirely reject it,” he said, pointing to ESPN’s well-received "Nine for IX" documentary series. “It’s a commitment to sports journalism that’s about women’s sports and women’s sports fans.” Roberts, who praised ESPN’s overall efforts in covering women’s sports, said that they nevertheless deserve a permanent place on the ESPN home page. Roberts: “It feels like segregation, like you’re marginalizing it to a page.” Stiegman countered that the website surfaces content from espnW across its many digital properties. He said that ESPN sees women’s sports programming as a growth opportunity similar to soccer, which enjoyed increased exposure on the network as ESPN works to tap into its global popularity.
DIVERSITY PAYS OFF: A diverse editorial staff is perhaps as important as dedicating resources to covering women’s sports. “The more diverse my staff is, the better stories I have,” Byrne said. “Diversity leads to better stories, and those stories help broaden your base. And that’s not gender-specific.” The broad consensus among panelists was that great stories are genderless. “There’s no doubt that ESPN is committed to advocacy for women’s sports,” Stiegman said. “What I’m committed to is the storytelling.” Added Byrne: “If you make news, you’ll make a headline.”