This research report shall be analysing the response that female sports journalists get from the audience, interviewees, and colleagues. The aim is to compare the findings to the reaction that a male sports journalist would get in the same situation, thus drawing a conclusion, pointing out that women are cited less in sports because of the hegemony that comes with the title of a sports journalist. The hypothesis that has been created to direct the digital artefact and research is: there is a gender gap in all sports because of the hegemonic divide that has been created through toxic masculinity.
Over the past three months, autoethnographic research has been conducted on this hypothesis and produced in a blog style, creating a digital artefact that has engaged with its marketed audience. The audience for research is, as observed, female, as the content has been conducted under a feminist framework.
Through general observation, women in sports journalism fit a visual stereotype that has been proven to hold the eyes of an audience. It is called the “elevator gaze” (Cummins, RG, Ortiz, M & Rankine, A 2019) as described in the article, a way in which a man’s eyes hold onto a woman’s a body/figure. Women in the career don’t just find disparity from the audience, they are also unaccepted by male colleges, “…female sports reporters who consistently spoke of a lack of respect from male colleagues as well as their readership,” (Hardin, M. Shain, S. 2005). A study on the visual gaze of both female and male audience members, whilst viewing both female and male sports reporters found that viewers spent a large amount of time staring at female reporters’ bodies, rather than their faces. In comparison to male reporters whom were found to keep most of the eye contact on their face (Cummins, RG, Ortiz, M & Rankine, A 2019). This reveals that the physical stereotypes are to keep the engagement of the audience, yet it was found to have made the reporters less credible.
The audience of sports tends to have issues with the credibility of female sports reporters, finding that they are unreliable when reporting on male sports, yet are when reporting on female sports (Cummins, RG, Ortiz, M & Rankine, A 2019). A portion of this comes from trustworthiness that accompanies physical appearance, in a study that was to determine how physical appearance affected trustworthiness (Ledesma, A. Kraut, D. Quezada, R. Zayas, A. Cano-Ruiz, M,E. 2020) of high school students, gender was concluded to influence the trustworthiness. This research thus linked to the stereotypical appearance that women need to meet to become a news anchor in sports (Cummins, RG, Ortiz, M & Rankine, A 2019). Yet in relation to women, attractiveness tended to “undermine perceived credibility,” (Davis and Krawczyk 2010) when reporting on sports. The rating of physical attractiveness attributing to credibility in sports reporting was found to be of unimportance.
Female sports reporters are more likely to report on woman’s sports games, in an interview with Sydney Morning Herald sportswriter Sarah Keoghan, she spoke about how she was, “…chosen as default roster for a woman’s sports game,” (Leventhal, E. 2022). Without a range of reporting, female journalists are automatically seen as one-dimensional reporters. Creating more evidence for the audience to have issues with credibility.
The academic research helped in elevating the thesis of this report. It has also guided the autoethnographic research, as it helped by providing ideas on what to analyse in the audience. Linking to the findings in the above paragraph, it narrowed down research on the “elevator eyes”, so in my own research, I began to document where interviewees would look when a female reporter was interviewing them.
In my digital artefact, I did a post on the interview of Chris Gayle with Mel McLaughlin, it was here where you can see Gayle disrespecting McLaughlin, not only saying a provocative sentence but having an unsteady gaze. My observations can be backed up by the research done by R.G Cummins, M. Ortiz and A. Rankine in their article ‘Elevator Eyes in Sports Broadcasting’. Furthering this research with autoethnographic techniques, the comments about the incident were defending Gayle, by arguing that the media blew it out of proportion.
Discussion (linking to autoethnography)
The first finding of this research was met with a problem as it became hard to immerse into the audience of female-produced sports journalism as there wasn’t a lot of content. The low statistics of women in that field meant that most of the content was written by men, women only tended to report on female played sports. Through submergence into different online news pages, it became obvious that women weren’t as represented in the sports section, finding their content meant having to search for them on google and on Twitter.
Interestingly, when searching for these women on google, as mentioned in previous blog posts, standard terms would come up like “hot” or “wife and mum”, I noticed that most of the women all had an article about ‘how they balance work and mum life,’. It became obvious that women weren’t taken seriously in the field as the audience was more worried about their life outside of their careers. Connecting work life to social life, and therefore using social media to do so. This is previously spoken about in a blog post called, Down to the Nitty Gritty.
Social media is interesting to research, especially when comparing male and female profiles. Through observation women post more regularly, Natalie Pinkham for example, has a post on her feed every F1 race, and posts of her home life, compared to Martin Brundle, who is also a commentator in F1, posts on his Instagram account quarterly. This is all observation through my own autoethnographic research, but it poses a question; why do women have to keep more active?
DA Contribution to media niche.
The digital artefact’s niche on the blog is one that is inclusive of everyone as it is important to present how badly the gender gap in sports media is, but it has mainly been read/viewed by women. This would link to the feminist framework of study that tends to deter the male audience from reading.
The limited content of the DA has meant that the contribution to the niche hasn’t had a huge amount of impact but, the posts that are available to the internet pinpoint the aims that were made in the research proposal made at the beginning of the semester.
By conducting autoethnographic research, the process of researching has been able to rely on multiple forms of opinion, including primary and secondary. The thesis arguing the issue of the gender gap in sports is one that can be proven in every scenario, from children’s sports, to professional sports, to sports reporting. The lack of sports media representation that women receive has a domino effect on all aspects of sports, mainly affecting the credibility of female writers, giving them fewer changes to prove that they can write as good as their male counterparts.
Women are beginning to be built up by the overall response of the readers but are still being put into corners of female sports reporting. Below is a podcast discussing more points on this report.
Thank you for reading.
Cummins, RG, Ortiz, M & Rankine, A 2019, ‘“Elevator Eyes” in Sports Broadcasting: Visual Objectification of Male and Female Sports Reporters’, Communication and sport, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 789–810.
Hardin M., Shain S. (2005). Female sports journalists: Are we there yet? “No.” Newspaper Research Journal, 26, 22–35.
Ledesma, A. Kraut, D. Quezada, R. Zayas, A. Cano-Ruiz, M,E. 2020. Physical Appearance and its effect on trust. Journal of Emerging Investigators. Vol 2.
Davis D. C., Krawczyk J. (2010). Female sportscaster credibility: Has appearance taken precedence? Journal of Sports Media, 5, 1–34. doi:10.1353/jsm.2010.0004
Leventhal, E. 2022. Media must lift its game with women’s sports reporting. Central News. Media must lift its game with women’s sports reporting – Central News