Julie Ward was deputy managing editor at USA Today for nearly 2 decades, from 1989 to 2007. She joined USA Today as a general-assignment reporter in 1984 and also was an assignment editor for the NBA, golf, tennis, motor sports, boxing, colleges, and high schools. USA Today is the top-circulation daily newspaper in the United States. Ward led the USA Today team that won the 2002 Associated Press Sports Editors award for a story that revealed the 302 members of Augusta National Golf Club, which had been embroiled in controversy because of its policy to exclude women from membership. In 2007, Ward also won the Mary Garber Pioneer Award from the Association for Women in Sports Media. In December, she accepted a severance offer (buyout) and retired from working at the paper. Before joining USA Today, she was a reporter for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the Belleville (IL) News-Democrat, where she covered women’s sports and was a columnist.
Interview With Julie Ward, Former Deputy Managing Editor, Sports, for USA Today
“I Consider Myself an Empowered Woman”: The Interaction of Sport, Gender and Disability in the Lives of Wheelchair Basketball Players
This research, involving interviews with elite female wheelchair basketball players, explores how gender and disability intersect in the lives of these athletes. Interviews revealed the integral role athletic identity plays to offset the stigma of disability in their self-identities and in the complex relationships each has with social norms in regard to gender, disability, sport and the body. However, social institutions, including that of adapted sport, reinforce an ableist, sexist ideology that persistently marginalizes these athletes.
Conformity and Conflict: Wheelchair Athletes Discuss Sport Media
Brent Hardin and Marie Hardin
This study explores the media-related attitudes and values of 10 male wheelchair athletes by soliciting their opinions and suggestions concerning disability sport print media. Using the “auto drive” technique for qualitative data collection, the analysis reveals four themes: (a) athletes are avid consumers of mainstream sport media; b) they use both mainstream and niche publications; (c) they do not want “courtesy coverage,” but instead, coverage focusing on elite elements of their sports; (d) they are unsure of media obligation in the coverage of sports involving athletes with disabilities. While the scope of this investigation is limited to male wheelchair athletes, the themes can provide a basis for further analysis and study in the emerging area of sport media research as it relates to disability.
Distorted Pictures: Images of Disability in Physical Education Textbooks
Brent Hardin and Marie Hardin
The purpose of this study was to examine the images of disability in general physical education textbooks. Photographs in 59 general physical education textbooks were examined via content analysis. A recording instrument was generated to categorize and analyze the textbook images. The findings indicate that general physical education textbooks do not usually include photographs of persons with disabilities, instead presenting the general physical education setting as noninclusive. Furthermore, the photographs that were included presented persons with disabilities in a stereotypical manner that generally did not encourage readers without disabilities to see their peers more realistically or persons with disabilities to see themselves more positively. The authors speculate on the role of cultural hegemony and body politics in sport as reasons for the exclusion of people with disabilities.
Sports Journalism: A Multimedia Primer
Jason Genovese and Marie Hardin
On Being a “Good Sport” in the Workplace: Women, the Glass Ceiling, and Negotiated Resignation in Sports Information
Erin Whiteside and Marie Hardin
This research survey explores the gendered work experiences of women in sports information, including their perceptions of the “glass ceiling,” their rationalization strategies for dealing with those perceptions, and the factors contributing to their low numbers in the business. The findings suggest that women perceive a glass ceiling but are hesitant to admit its existence. Second, women are internalizing some of the value systems embedded in this male-dominated industry. Finally, along with perceptions of a glass ceiling, women are facing a “maternal wall” that makes staying in sports information extremely difficult for women with children, given the job’s untraditional schedule.
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.
Consequences of Being the “Team Mom”: Women in Sports Information and the Friendliness Trap
Marie Hardin and Erin Whiteside
In an effort to move beyond relying solely on institutional critiques in explaining women’s marginalized status in the sports media workplace and to expand our understanding of gendered meaning-making in such organizations, we employ feminist scholar Romy Fröhlich’s notion of the “friendliness trap” in the analysis of focus groups with women who work in college sports public relations, commonly called sports information. The friendliness trap is a term used to describe the faulty belief that women, by virtue of their feminine qualities, possess an advantage in communication-related fields. Our findings suggest, however, that women in sports information may be frustrated by the failure of “the female advantage” to provide them with opportunities for promotion. The friendliness trap obscures workplace realities, including the structural barriers to women’s advancement, and may divert the energy of women in ways that have no career benefit. Once the trap is exposed, however, women may be more able to challenge the meanings associated with it.
Framing of Sport Coverage Based on the Sex of Sports Writers: Female Journalists Counter the Traditional Gendering of Media Coverage
Edward M. Kian and Marie Hardin
This study examined effects of the sex of sports writers on the framing of athletes in print-media coverage of intercollegiate men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The number of articles by female and male authors and the frames used were analyzed. Descriptors of players, coaches, and both tournaments in articles from CBS SportsLine, ESPN Internet, The New York Times, and USA Today were coded with the authors’ names initially hidden. Results showed that female journalists were more apt to cover women’s basketball, and men predominantly wrote about men’s basketball. The sex of writers also influenced the ways female and male athletes were presented. Male writers were more likely to reinforce gender stereotypes by praising the athleticism of male athletes. In contrast, female writers more often framed female athletes for their athletic prowess. The results suggest that female sports writers can make some difference in framing, but institutional structures minimize their impact.
Sports Coverage: “Toy Department” or Public-Service Journalism? The Relationship Between Reporters’ Ethics and Attitudes Toward the Profession
Marie Hardin, Bu Zhong, and Erin Whiteside
U.S. sports operations have been described as newsroom “toy departments,” at least partly because of their deviation from journalistic norms. Recently, however, more attention has focused on issues of ethics and professionalism; the failure of sports journalists to adequately cover steroid use in Major League Baseball has also directed critical attention to their roles and motives. This study, through a telephone survey of journalists in U.S. newsrooms, examines sports reporters’ practices, beliefs, and attitudes in regard to ethics and professionalism and how their ethics and practice relate. Results indicate that reporters’ attitudes toward issues such as voting in polls, taking free tickets, gambling, and becoming friends with sources are related to their views of public-service or investigative journalism. In addition, friendships with sources are linked to values stereotypically associated with sports as a toy-department occupation. These results suggest that adherence to ethical standards is linked to an outlook that embraces sports coverage as public service.