Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Examining the Impact of Journalists' Gender in Online and Newspaper Tennis Articles

Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Examining the Impact of Journalists' Gender in Online and Newspaper Tennis Articles

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined content differences in the framing of men's and women's tennis coverage based on the sex of sports writers. Articles on the 2007 U.S. Open in six popular Internet sites and newspapers were examined. Results showed both female and male writers wrote a higher percentage of articles exclusively on men's tennis than on women's tennis. Female journalists accounted for more overall newspapers articles than male reporters, whereas online articles were mostly written by male authors. Framing results showed female journalists largely reinforced hegemonic masculinity through the use of sexist and stereotypical descriptors that de-valued the athleticism and accomplishment of female athletes. In contrast, male journalists were more likely to challenge the traditional gendering of sport media content by praising the athleticism of female athletes. The contrasts suggest the potential presence of subtle shifts in traditional, masculine framing of sports by male reporters, who dominate the ranks of sportswriters.

September 20, 1973, marked a turning point for the women's rights movement In the United States and for the progression of girls and women in sport throughout the world. That historic day saw Billie Jean King easily defeat staunch male chauvinist Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes," which still ranks as the most watched tennis match ever with nearly 50 million viewers in the United States (Spencer, 2000). Following King's victory, coupled with the passage of Title IX by the U.S. Congress that was subsequently signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972, the rise of women's sport into mainstream prominence seemed inevitable.

Whereas there has been considerable progress in the advancement and acceptance of women's sport over the past four decades, girls and women still receive fewer athletic opportunities than boys and men at all levels of sport nearly 40 years after both the passage of Title IX and King's epic victory (Carpenter & Acosta, 2005). Gender differences in sport are most pronounced in more lucrative, professional sports, as well as in the amount and types of media coverage athletes receive (Duncan, 2006). In general, male athletes receive much more sport media coverage and are often framed more positively than female athletes (Bishop, 2003; Lumpkin, 2009; Messner & Cooky, 2010) One reason for the entrenchment of men's sports atop the sport hierarchy is a hegemonic structure that exists not only in the upper echelons of sport organizations and franchises, but also within the sport media outlets that deem which sports and athletes are worthy of publicity (Hardin, 2005). The concept of hegemonic masculinity ideologically reinforces androcentrism as a primary characteristic of Western society that hierarchically places women in positions below men (Connell, 2005).

As a counter to a sport media structure that focuses most of its attention on men's sports and is dominated by male gatekeepers (e.g., editors, producers, etc.), some scholars have argued that more women should be hired at all levels of sport media organizations, contending that female journalists would be more likely to cover women's sport and less likely to use stereotypical and sexist language in their depictions of female athletes (Creedon, 1998; Zavian, 1998). However, others have argued that simply increasing the female body count among reporters and in positions besides top-line management would have little impact because hegemonic masculinity is so deeply entrenched in the media workplace that aspiring female journalists have to adopt the dominant masculine values to advance their careers (Hall, 1996; Hardin & Sham, 2005b). Further, hegemonic masculinity is so engrained in mediated sports that structures, policies, and practices benefitting this gendered nature of sport organizations are often "taken for granted," even by women (Hardin & Whiteside, 2009; Hoeber, 2008). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.