Work Routines in Newspaper Sports Departments and the Coverage of Women’s Sports

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 University of Waterloo
  • | 2 Winston-Salem Journal (North Carolina)
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The limited coverage of women in the sports media is not due simply to journalists’ bias against women’s sports. The exclusion is woven into news-workers’ beliefs about the contents of the news and their own methods of uncovering the news. Utilizing data from fieldwork in a U.S. newspaper, this article examines some features of the newspaper production process that read women out of the sports news. In casting the news net, journalists seek subjects that are both deemed newsworthy and able to provide reliable and accessible news material. The advantage enjoyed by men’s sports lies in the assumption of greater public interest and the greater resources of men’s commercial sports that guarantee preferred access to the media. Another practice that biases the sports news is standardization of the contents of the sports section. The range of contents is reduced by regularly covering only certain subjects, again mainly men’s sports. Newsworkers see this standardization as a practical necessity that enables them to do their job. They believe they are printing what their audiences wish to read. Their reliance upon bureaucratic news sources and the standardization of the production process mean that newsworkers routinely define sports news as news about men’s sports.

Direct all correspondence to Nancy Theberge, Dept. of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ont., Canada N2L 3G1.
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