Women in Sport: Where are They?

Marcotte (2013) believes that the theory of gender in the media is simple. Women make up 51% of the population and therefore their presence in the media should be comparable. Where it isn’t, it’s likely that discrimination is at play.

Let’s take a look at the women’s sport scene in Australia. When was the last time you heard some breaking news about one of our female sporting stars? And I’m not talking half-nude photo shoots or scandals. Does anything sports related come to mind? Nope? Mine neither.

women in sport

Sure, female sports participation rates and female interest in sport are indeed lower than that of males, but the inadequacies in media coverage far overcompensate for these issues. A tiny nine percent of Australia’s sports reporting focuses on women (Obst 2012).

Looking back at the Beijing Olympic Games, we can see that Australia took home a total of 46 medals. Our female sport stars trumped the men, bringing home 24 medals to their 22. But did the media in Australia reflect this? Certainly not. Statistics from the Australian Sports Commission showed that male sport received 41% of coverage, compared to just 34% for women (Obst 2012).

“Journalists are more focused on ratings and selling papers than the messages they are sending out to the nation and to the future generation” Amanda Obst (2012)

So what do these inequalities in media coverage mean for women in Australian sport? A high media profile is necessary in order to attract financial support, spectators, and sponsorships (NSW Sport and Recreation 2014). Without that, it can be assumed that women’s sporting culture will continue to be on the decline. Instead of attributing this fall to ‘lack of interest in sport’, perhaps the media landscape needs to look at rectifying these inadequacies first.

References:

Marcotte, M 2013, Gender Inequality in Public Media Newsrooms, MVM Consulting, viewed 29 April.

NSW Sport and Recreation 2014, Media Coverage of Women in Sport, NSW Government, viewed 29 April.

Obst, A 2012, ‘Media fail to give female athletes a podium finish’, Roar, 4 May, viewed 29 April.

Optimism about Journalism

You hear them all the time, public sneers about the journalistic future; ‘Journalism is on its way out’, ‘journalism’s dead’ and ‘citizen journalism is where the future lies’. As a media and communications student, the same opinions echo through the voices of influencers around me, with comments like ‘oh you’re doing journalism subjects, why is that?’ and ‘media and communications hey? You’re not majoring in journalism are you?’ The truth is, I’m not. In fact, those influential voices the widely discussed declining statistics of mainstream media succeeded to turn me off even contemplating it as a major of study.

In an interview with David Carr from The New York Times discussing the future of journalism, he suggests that journalism ‘back in the day’ really wasn’t that great and that the changes that we are seeing due to technology today are all a part of a natural evolution (Boston University 2014). In the same interview, Andy Lack from Bloomberg media suggests that the changes that are occurring due to the rise of digital media should be expected, enjoyed, used and discovered instead of being feared. He even goes as far to say that we are in the ‘golden age of journalism’ due to these advances (Boston University 2014).

So is the future of journalism really looking as bleak as many assume? People are now consuming news their way. We can see by looking at the platform Twitter that keeping up with such behavioural preferences if often at the core of developing successful business plans. Twitter was designed for individuals to send out tweets in a one-way form. However, its users wanted more. They wanted to talk, they wanted to reply to other tweeters and they began using the @ handle to direct their conversation. Twitter incorporated this concept of two-way communication using the @ handle into the very core of its offering and, as a result, it is now one of the most successful social media sites on the planet.

Tom Rosenstiel, Director of the American Press Institute, in a recent TED Talk spoke of new media and user-generated content challenges when stating that ‘what disrupted us will now begin to save us’ (TEDx 2013). He suggests that the notion that people are turning away from the news is simply not true, even though statistics around the decline of traditional media suggest this. News is on demand, but the audiences are now simply online and consuming news very differently.

The journalism landscape is evolving, just as it has done in the past. If journalists can offer news to audiences how they want it, where they want it and when they want it, then success is undoubtedly warranted. People place value in reliable information and trustworthy sources. In the vast sea of information available, if audiences were offered news ‘their way’ from both a novice writer and a respected journalist, then it would be almost certainly assumed that they would choose the journalist. It’s all about keeping up and I believe that we are going to begin to see the most adaptive media corporations begin to prosper once again.

References:

Boston University 2014, NYT’s David Carr on the Future of Journalism, online video, 6 March, Boston University, viewed 17 March 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPlazqH0TdA

TEDx Talks 2013, The Future of Journalism: Tom Rosenstiel at TEDxAtlanta, online video, 28 May, TEDx, viewed 17 March 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuBE_dP900Y

BYO Device or Everyone Will Suffer

The Internet is impacting on all aspects of people’s lives; how we communicate, how we learn, and how we access information is increasingly being transformed by the technologies provided to us (DCITA 2005). There exists little doubt that the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in education can effectively strengthen practices and engagement. Devices that were once banned in classrooms are now becoming an integral part of student learning.

Kevin Rudd had big plans for the use of ICT in schools in 2007. The ‘Digital Education Revolution’ program was announced, which would provide students from years 9-12 with laptops and continual funding to keep them ‘cutting edge’ (Taylor 2013). Instead, the nation saw a slow start to the scheme, followed closely by its axing in 2013 due to lack of funding. The uncertainty surrounding the plans for the campaign left school teachers unsettled and also concerned about equity issues that would arise if the cost of laptops was shifted to the parents (Wright 2013).

byod hands

This year, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies have begun rolling out in NSW secondary public schools. Public high schools students that missed out on the government laptops are now required to bring their own laptops or devices to school in order to aid learning skills and foster digital literacy (Smith 2014, DET 2013). Again, concerns arose about the digital divide that would be created between those families who could afford the technologies, and those that couldn’t and would suffer as a result (Smith 2014).

NSW Secondary Principal’s Council President, Lila Mularczyk, suggests that this equity isn’t an issue, as school communities have always helped families in need, and that this isn’t an exception (Smith 2014). There are also many other issues that come into play when considering BYOD programs in schools, such as distraction, privacy issues, security, storage and so on. I don’t believe that equity should be one of them.

With the prices of tablets reaching all time lows, devices can be purchased for under $150. Additionally, the costs of many traditional education requirements such as reading and writing materials are eliminated and school communities are generally willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. So why should everyone suffer?

In the digital age, it is essential that young people are skilled in the use of ICT. Being empowered technologically and participating in the knowledge-based economy from an early age will ensure effective use of ICT in all facets of life. These positives of ICT in education will far outweigh any modest inequalities that have been anticipated.

References:

Department of Communication Technology and the Arts (DCITA) 2005, The Role of ICT in Building Communities and Social Capital: A Discussion Paper, DCITA, Canberra, viewed 11 April, http://www.archive.dbcde.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/23737/The_Role_of_ICT_in_Building_Communities_and_Social_Capital.pdf

Department of Education (DET) 2013, Student Bring Your Own Device Policy, NSW Government: Education and Communities, viewed 11 April, https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/technology/computers/mobile-device/PD20130458.shtml

Smith, A 2014, ‘It’s BYO laptop now as schools end free program’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February, p.2.

Taylor, J 2013, ‘Australian government quietly ends laptops in schools program’, ZDNet, 21 May, viewed 11 April, http://www.zdnet.com/au/australian-government-quietly-ends-laptops-in-schools-program-7000015650/

Wright, J 2005, ‘Computer cash in lap of chaos’, The Sun-Herald, 3 February, p.11.

 

Graffiti as Aesthetic Journalism

Art comes in all shapes, sizes, colours, and forms. From film, to dance, print, architecture and paint, these all constitute unique forms of artistic and aesthetic expression in society. Many art forms are often created with the intent of reaching beyond sole aesthetic, and act in order to communicate a viewpoint by investigating social, cultural and political circumstances.  This is what Alfredo Cramerotti (2009) refers to as ‘aesthetic journalism’, the intertwining between journalism and art forms. Just as journalism uses mainstream media to present audiences with global issues, artists can do so too by demonstrating their artistic expression in the public arena.

Street art, or graffiti, can be a recognised form of art, and there is one artist well known for creating infamous guerilla street art in urban landscapes around the globe. He goes by the name of ‘Banksy’, yet his true identity is unknown. It remains withheld, likely due to the fact that the nature of his artwork constitutes vandalism, a criminal offence in most countries.

With cans of spray paint as his weapon of choice, he creates highly visible art on buildings in global cities and does so as a form of social commentary. Banksy’s works are instantly recognisable and have the ability to refresh monotonous news issues. This illustrates aesthetic journalism at its finest.

A-new-Banksy-piece-near-t-001

The anonymous street artist prides his instalments on evoking thought in the eye of the beholder, ultimately leaving the audience to create their own interpretations (Northover 2010). This what Cramerotti (2011) acknowledges as aesthetic journalism’s powerful ability to ‘inform without informing’.

It is this powerful blending of art and journalism that not only results in an evolving media landscape, but also one that contributes to a society encouraged to think critically and engage in conversation about the political, social and cultural agendas that they are surrounded with.

References:

Cramerotti, A 2009, Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform Without Informing, Intellect Ltd, Bristol.

Northover, ‘Banksy’s First Australian Interview’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 May, viewed 10 April 2014.

Participatory Journalism: News as Communication at Last

Participatory journalism – citizen journalism – grassroots journalism – call it what you will. These are all terms used to describe the integration of user-generated content into traditional journalistic models and practice. Dominigo et al. (2008) suggest that these new forms are solid competitors for traditional news, and forms that are challenging news journalism’s role and function in society.

Citizen produced content has the ability to deliver new layers to everyday news. Personal anecdotes and moments captured by individuals give us an ‘on the ground’ perspective of news and events and have the ability to engage the network of Internet users fuelled by participatory features and vernacular involvement.

soapbox

When citizen journalism first began to gain momentum in the online arena, it was seen to be a main contender for the demise of news media, as internet users went online to find their news in non-institutional locations, free from political agenda and bias. Instead, we have begun to see the opposite occurring. Over the last few years we have witnessed a gradual transformation of the news that we consume, one that which is redefining news journalism as we know it.

Media institutions are now capitalizing on the user-generated phenomenon and altering their business models and plans accordingly in order to include it. CNN has brought us iReport, a site where any individual can upload photographs, videos, opinion posts and other content in order to share their story and contribute to institutional news. The New York Times has followed suit, having a dedicated section on their online site, as well as a blog and large portion of their Sunday paper dedicated to publishing user-generated opinion pieces (Hall 2013).

What we are seeing is a focus of ‘news as communication’, rather than ‘news as a lecture’ (Domingo et al. 2008), which is a pretty exciting thing for the empowerment of individuals and the enhancement of our news media content.

References: 

Domingo, D, Quandt, T, Heinonen, A, Paulussen, S, Singer, J & Vujnovic, M 2008, ‘Participatory Journalism Practices in the Media and Beyond’, Journalism Practice, vol.2, no.3, pp.326-342.

Hall, T 2013, Op-Ed and You, The New York Times, viewed 2 May 2014.