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Volume 25 No. 155
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Women's Sports Face Obstacles In Getting More Media Coverage

Enright (l) said schools and educators must do a better job emphasizing women's sports coverage

Media coverage of women’s sports has frequently been a source of contention, and Boston-based WBUR-FM & NPR Sports & Society reporter Shira Springer believes the problem is two-fold. During a panel discussion at the ’18 SBJ Game Changers conference, Springer noted one issue is the “systemic part of things, the logistical part that is who’s deciding what coverage is out there, how the newsrooms are structured.” She cited a survey done a couple of years ago in which AP sports editors found that 90% of sports editors across the nation were white males who were less likely to cover women’s sports extensively as men’s sports. Springer said the other issue is cultural. She said, “What we value and how we value women’s sports is not where it should be, which is causing a lot of bad decision making about that coverage.” AP Global Sports Editor Michael Giarrusso agreed with the sentiment, but added during this “time of attrition in the industry, when things are tightening up, it’s even harder to fix.” Giarrusso: “You’re not hiring, people are holding on to their jobs like popes. So you don’t have the chance to insert new blood, new voices, new energy.” UConn Senior Associate AD/Communications Mike Enright said that schools and educators have to do a better job of addressing the issue while journalists are still in school and preach the importance of women’s sports coverage.

JUST ONE PART OF THE STORY: Asked by a member of the audience if panelists thought The Players’ Tribune is the future of storytelling, Giarrusso said that notion “seems a little strong” despite his opinion that it will be an “element of the future of storytelling.” He expressed as someone “committed to truth and balance” in stories, TPT content is “a little bit dangerous because it’s only one side of the story.” Giarrusso gave an example of a recent disagreement in the newsroom around Chipper Jones' recent induction into the Baseball HOF where he forced the writer to insert that Jones wrote a book detailing his infidelity and having kids with multiple women. Giarrusso: “If you let Chipper tell the story, he’s not going to include that. To me, that is context and a side that everyone needs to have.” But Giarrusso added it “doesn’t mean athletes can’t use it to get out a part of their message that is ignored.”