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.
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.
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.