Researchers have extensively documented the issues in quantity and quality of media coverage of the Paralympic Games. The lack of coverage and stereotypical representations can be attributed to a variety of structural and cultural factors, notably including journalistic norms and values. This scholarly commentary proposes a reconsideration of journalistic values in order to argue that sports journalists have a professional responsibility to cover the Paralympics and issues of disability for at least three reasons: (a) The Paralympics are an elite-level, international sporting event and thus merit sport-focused coverage, (b) sport journalists have an ethical obligation to include diverse perspectives in reporting and to challenge stereotypes, and (c) sport is intertwined with social issues and requires contextualized reporting. The commentary concludes with recommendations for sport communication and journalism education.
Media Coverage of the Paralympics: Recommendations for Sport Journalism Practice and Education
Dunja Antunovic and Andrea Bundon
Activism in Women’s Sports Blogs: Fandom and Feminist Potential
Dunja Antunovic and Marie Hardin
The emergence of social media has provided a space for discourse and activism about sports that traditional media outlets tend to ignore. Using a feminist theoretical lens, a textual analysis of selected blogs on the Women Talk Sports blog network was conducted to determine how fandom and advocacy for women’s sports were expressed in blog posts. The analysis indicated that bloggers enhance the visibility of women’s sports, but their engagement with social issues varies. Some bloggers may reproduce hegemonic norms around sports and gendered sporting bodies, while others may offer a more critical, decidedly feminist view and challenge dominant ideologies. While the blogosphere, and particularly networks such as Women Talk Sports, can serve as a venue for activism around women’s sports and the representation of athletic bodies, its potential to do so may be unmet without a more critical perspective by participants.
Social Media Use Among Olympians and Sport Journalists in Hungary
Agnes Kovacs, Tamas Doczi, and Dunja Antunovic
The Olympic Games are among the most followed events in the world, so athletes who participate there are exceptionally interesting for the media. This research investigated Olympians’ social media use, sport journalists’ attitudes about Olympians’ social media use, and the role of social media in the relationship between Olympians and sport journalists in Hungary. The findings suggest that most Hungarian Olympians do not think that being on social media is an exceptionally key issue in their life, and a significant portion of them do not have public social media pages. However, sport journalists would like to see more information about athletes on social media platforms. The Hungarian case offers not only a general understanding of the athlete–journalist relationship, and the role of social media in it, but also insight into the specific features of the phenomenon in a state-supported, hybrid sport economy.
The Status of Women in Sport-Talk Radio: A Survey of Directors
Marie Hardin, Dunja Antunovic, Steve Bien-Aimé, and Ruobing Li
Sport-talk radio has been recognized, along with other forms of sports media, as a masculine space where women’s value as athletes and fans is diminished. Little is known, however, about the gendered dynamics of sport-talk-radio production. This study used a survey of programming directors from across the United States to explore issues around the employment of women and coverage of women’s sport by local stations. Results suggest that many stations do not employ any women, although more than half do. Still, leadership positions belong primarily to men. Programming directors see little value in women’s sport for their listeners and make decisions that reinforce their vision of an audience that also sees little value in women’s sport. Using a feminist lens, the authors speculate on the impact that women in positions of power could have on programming if their representation moved beyond token status, while acknowledging the realities of the sport-media workplace.
“Time to Award Some Medals”: A Comparative Social Media Analysis of Olympic Coverage in the United States and Australia
Kelsey Slater, Dunja Antunovic, Meg S. Messer, and Sam P. Dreher
Rights-holding broadcasters of the Olympic Games play an integral role in conveying the values of the Olympic Movement, but few studies have examined these networks’ social media content. This investigation involved a comparative content analysis of rights-holding broadcasters’ official Olympic Twitter accounts in the United States (@NBCOlympics) and Australia (@7Olympics) during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Results indicate significant differences between the two accounts in sport disciplines, gender representations, and national interest. Both accounts dedicated <40% of the tweets to women’s sport. Whereas the American outlet NBC promoted home athletes, Australia’s Seven Network emphasized athletes from other countries. Twitter accounts partially followed the televisual logics of representation patterns, but contextual factors specific to social media structured agenda diversity. Contextual elements (e.g., structure of sport schedules and nation-specific factors) are also relevant when interpreting representation patterns. Theoretical implications for agenda setting and methodological directions for cross-national Olympic social media research are discussed.
“To Build a More Just Society”: Women’s National Basketball Association Teams’ Uses of Social Media for Advocacy
Dunja Antunovic, Ann Pegoraro, Ceyda Mumcu, Kimberly Soltis, Nancy Lough, Katie Lebel, and Nicole M. LaVoi
Sports brands and properties are using social media platforms to take a stand on controversial social issues. This paper draws on the concept of corporate social advocacy to examine how Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) teams used their social media platforms to communicate about social issues during the 2021 season. We conducted a thematic and semantic analysis of advocacy-related tweets to examine the communicative actions and salient issues across the teams’ accounts. WNBA teams posted about racial justice, women’s empowerment, and LGBTQ+ rights, which represent a shift in the WNBA’s discursive promotional strategies. The findings of the study indicate that WNBA teams’ use of social media to take a stand on social issues aligns with, and extends, conceptualizations of corporate social advocacy. Further, social media advocacy provides insight into the sociocultural significance and the economic viability of women’s sport.