Lack of News Coverage for Women's Athletics
By Judith Jenkins George
The media helps shape our perceptions and beliefs. If women's and girls' sports are ignored or
trivialized, what sort of message is that sending? Judith Jenkins George examines the impact of
"under-reporting" women's and girls' sports.
A recent follow-up study on the coverage of women's sports in newspapers shows that while there's
been an enormous increase in the opportunities, number of events and attendance at contests for
women's athletics, newspaper coverage of women's sports has only slightly increased in the past
10 years. Even though professional leagues and associations for women have come of age (basketball,
soccer, softball, football, tennis, golf, boxing and bowling to name a few), newspaper reporting
of them has not.
One-year studies were conducted on 52 Saturday editions of The New York Times and The Indianapolis
Star (national and regional, respectively) in 1989 by professor Judith George and Neal Watson and
again in 1999 by George and Ashleigh Griffin of DePauw University. The 1989 study showed that
women received 2.7 percent of all sports coverage in the Star, while the Times allotted 2.2
percent. Then 10 years later, the Star provided 8.6 percent women's athletic coverage, and the
Times 6.7 percent.
The amount of newspaper coverage of women's sports has not kept pace with the popularity and
growth of female athletics. Almost 30 years has passed since Title IX, the federal law mandating
that any educational program receiving federal money cannot discriminate on the basis of sex,
was enacted in 1972.
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