Thursday, January 21, 2010

Women breaking barriers: A milestone

From the Association for Women in Sports Media: Today marks the 35th anniversary of Robin Herman and Marcel St. Cyr becoming the first female sports reporters to enter a locker room for post-game interviews.

Herman was a reporter at The New York Times and St. Cyr was working for CKLM Radio in Montreal when the two women broke the locker room barrier after the National Hockey League's All-Star game.

"This is a significant day in the history of women in sports media," AWSM president Jenni Carlson said. "All of us celebrate the courage that Robin and Marcel showed 35 years ago. Without them and other pioneers like them, we would not be where we are today."

Los Angeles Times columnist Jerome Crowe mentioned the anniversary in today's paper.

Herman also shared her memories in her blog.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A new low in coverage of Tiger Vanity Fair?

The cover on the latest Vanity Fair, which includes a story by Buzz Bissinger with sordid details about Tiger Woods' extramarital affairs, plays so baldly to racist stereotypes about black, male athletes that the infamous 2008 Vogue cover pales in comparison. A shirtless, sweaty Woods (in skull cap, staring blankly at the camera) is typical of images of African-American athletes, playing to the stereotype of dark-skinned men as hypersexual, deviant and -- to use the magazine's coverline about Woods -- "raw."
Woods -- for all his flaws -- seemed to understand the (negative) power of these kinds of images, as evidenced in his advice to Charles Barkley years ago to avoid a controversial shirtless cover in Sports Illustrated.
It's surprising, then, that Woods posed for these pictures -- but the fact that they were for famous photographer-of-the-stars Annie Leibovitz a number of years ago likely had something to do with the decision. It's regrettable that VF decided to strategically dredge up these photos now, in a context that makes them even more stereotypically potent.
-- Marie Hardin

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sports Journalism, Athletes in for a Big Challenge, a leading gossip and celebrity news web site, has entered the sports media market, launching TMZ Sports at the start of the year. And if its recent coverage of the Gilbert Arenas story is any indication, established sports media outlets are facing a legitimate contender in this saturated industry. Already the web site scooped everyone from ESPN to the Washington Post by first reporting that Arenas does not have a license to carry the firearm he is accused of brandishing in the Wizards’ locker room, and that according to “law enforcement sources,” the locker room is monitored by surveillance video, making it a real possibility that footage of the incident exists.

As a gossip web site, TMZ Sports will have to prove its reporting accuracy in order to solidify a reputation as a reputable source for sports media news. But TMZ Sports isn’t just covering sports in the traditional sense; rather, it is building off what does well: gossip. In doing so, the web site is challenging unspoken agreements between athletes and media that private lives generally stay private. The site has held no punches in its Tiger Woods coverage, even posting grainy cell phone photos of Woods in various nightclubs, which directly contradict the pristine image Woods has worked so hard to create. In just a few short weeks, the site has posted everything from documents in Shaquille O’Neal’s divorce proceedings to pictures of baseball player Matt Kemp grabbing the backside of his girlfriend, Rihanna.

If TMZ Sports stays on this course, major athletes will have a major problem. Without a free pass from the media, the private, sometimes unsavory and always un-manufactured side of our “All-American” athletes will be on full display for the world to see. Considering that a carefully guarded image is critical for marketing (and financial) success, athletes have a real reason to be nervous: After all, if TMZ Sports been around 20 years ago, everyone’s favorite Nike pitchman might not have enjoyed such public admiration had stories and pictures of his now-infamous gambling habit been so readily available.

--Erin Whiteside