Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some women 'seethe with resentment'

Paul Farhi's Washington Post story today about the role of women on the sidelines in coverage of major sports events (such as the Super Bowl) doesn't cover new ground. And neither do the comments in response to Farhi's piece-- which provide the usual range of sexist/misogynist tirades.
Farhi's article, does, however, reflect the frustration of some female sports broadcasters who believe (rightly) that decision-making about their marginal roles isn't fair.
Although the story speculates, based on a comment from the WSF's Marj Snyder, that perhaps more women in high-end decisions at networks could make a difference, it's doubtful that the solution is that simple. Women will gain more visibility in sports commentating roles as our ideas and expectations, as a culture, change in relationship to women, men and sports.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Super Bowl coverage: Expanding width, shrinking depth

An article in Editor & Publisher today announced a drop in the number of media requests for the Super Bowl this year. The dip is about 4 percent, from 4,786 to 4,589. The article goes on to provide comments from editors at major dailies who have decided to send fewer reporters to games.
The other news -- not explored by E&P, though -- is that the number of media organizations requesting credentials is higher than for any Super Bowl. That jump is about 10 percent. More than 600 organizations are credentialed. Even as the newspaper industry -- the lion's share of credentials -- is shrinking, the number and variety of outlets covering sports continues to grow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sports reporting: Does objectivity matter?

With the media spotlight hot and bright on every key player in the Super Bowl this Sunday, the story about the relationship between Larry Fitzgerald Sr., a sportswriter, and his son, a wide receiver for the Cardinals, has been subject to the typical over-hyped treatment such human-interest stories get. Writers including Rick Reilly have focused dutifully on the ethical commitment by Fitzgerald to obey the no-cheering-in-the-pressbox rule.
Josh Levin's recent Slate article, though, points out that Fitzgerald has not been "objective" in stories about his son. Levin uses examples to point out the very loud cheering -- in the pages of the Spokesman-Recorder. The story has been picked up by the sports blogosphere and used as an excuse to lampoon or criticize the reporter.
I think the more important question, though, is about the assumption by writers that "objectivity" (e.g., avoiding rooting for a victory by a team or athlete) by sports reporters is something sports fans and readers want in their coverage or even see as an ethical issue.. I'm not so sure that whether Fitzgerald will cheer or not on Sunday is of much interest - or relevance -- to fans.
Research has consistently shown that both fans and journalists think homerism on the sports pages is OK. Perhaps the more relevant columns would be those that ask why that is, and what the consequences are for the wider practice of sports journalism.