A content analysis of gendered print sports coverage in memphis tennessee from 1999 2010
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A Content Analysis of Gendered Print Sports Coverage in Memphis, Tennessee from 1999-2010. Kathleen Fox University of Memphis Final Project. Abstract. This project analyzed the local (Memphis) newspaper The Commercial Appeal’s sports coverage in the print edition from 1999-2010.

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A content analysis of gendered print sports coverage in memphis tennessee from 1999 2010

A Content Analysis of Gendered Print Sports Coverage in Memphis, Tennessee from 1999-2010

Kathleen Fox

University of Memphis

Final Project


Abstract

Abstract

  • This project analyzed the local (Memphis) newspaper The Commercial Appeal’s sports coverage in the print edition from 1999-2010.

  • This topic was relevant for several reasons including the current staff and monetary cutbacks nationally in the newspaper industry and the position of The Commercial Appeal as an important print gatekeeper in a major metropolitan area.

  • The research questions revolved around the difference in gender coverage of high school and college sports along several different metrics including, amount of content per issue, front-page content, subject matter, amount of images, and headline wording.


Introduction why is this project important

Introduction- Why is this Project Important?

  • Of 2,100 sports print stories surveyed; only 3% featured women’s team sports and 5% featured women’s individual sports (Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2005).

  • Many of the decisions related to sports content are based on a perceived level of public interest and assumption of greater interest for sports that feature male competition (Hardin, 2007).

  • This study hoped to add to the conversation about the connection or disconnection between interest and coverage within current print media.

  • This study aimed to determine the primary element associated with the decisions of local gatekeepers (The Commercial Appeal) and if the methods for local gatekeeping have changed in the last twelve years.


Introduction continued

Introduction (Continued)

  • Since 1972 and the passing of Title XVI, the amount of female high school and college athletes has increased nationally, but coverage for women’s athletics has not increased (Tuggle, 1997).

  • A recent milestone for women’s sports was the 1999 U.S. Women’s Soccer World Cup victory and the intense coverage of the entire tournament (FIFA.com, 1999).

  • Both events evolve this issue into the question: How has coverage of women’s high school and college sports changed?

  • Gillman (1994) defines the role of the media organization as a whole and its members as, “engaging readers is the business of newspaper writers and editors.” This project analyzed how The Commercial Appeal engaged its audience through articles and images in the (local)sports print content.


Literature review important relevant past studies

Literature Review- Important/Relevant Past Studies

  • Nearly 50% of women in industrialized nations watch sports on a regular basis.

  • Women comprise 40% of the audience for the NBA, NFL, and the MLB (Tuggle, 1997).

  • As of 2002, 22.6% of SportsCenter’s audience was female and that percent continues to increase.

  • In contrast, male viewership of female sports has also increased, 46% of men watch some women’s sports, the most watched being basketball (WNBA) and soccer (WUSA).


Important statistics literature review continued

Important Statistics- Literature Review (Continued)

  • A content analysis of USA Today’s coverage of three LPGA women golfers, - found that the coverage of none of the female golfers aligned with their ranking or tournament victories.

  • Only 6% of sports images in Sports Illustrated magazine featured female athletes or women’s sports teams.

  • Sports Illustrated for Kids featured female athletes or sports teams in only 24 % of its images (Jones, 2006).

  • Women’s sports received less coverage than men’s sports on three major online sports news sites, CBS Sportsline, CNNSI, and ESPN.

  • ESPN’s online content featured 72% of articles about men’s NCAA basketball tournament games compared with 38% about women’s tournament games.

  • CBS SportsLine online featured 94% of its articles about men’s tournament games and only 6% about women’s tournament games.

  • Male athletes and men’s sports team amounted to 86% of the images on the top three U.S. sports websites.


Literature review continued

Literature Review Continued

  • Between 1989 and 2004, men’s sports were featured on 91.4% of television sports news and highlight shows, compared with just 6.3 % for women’s sports (Jones, 2006).

  • On SportsCenter, the ratio of male to female sports stories is 15-1 and the ratio of male to female sports is 48-1 (Huffman, Tuggle, & Rosengard, 2004).

  • One in 10 stories on local television are focused on women’s sports.

  • In a survey of several local Los Angeles television stations, male sports receive 88% of the sports telecast, while female sports comprised only 9% of the telecast.

  • In contrast, the ratio of male to female students enrolled in universities nationally was 43% male and 57% female in 2009 (Hardin et al., 2007).


Women in sports since title xvi

Women in Sports Since Title XVI

  • In the ten years following Title XI:

  • Female high school athletic participation has increased by 904% and female collegiate athletic participation has increased by 456%.

  • The number of female athletes at the high school level increased from 7% to 35% (Hallmark & Armstrong, 1999).

  • In 2007, women ages six thru seventeen comprised 44% of members of organized sports teams and women comprised 41% of high school athletes.

  • In college athletics in the 2000-2001 academic year, there were seven female athletes for every 10 male athletes.

  • The rate of female participation in high school sports has grown faster than the male participation rate.

  • In 1998, female student athletes made up 49% of the student population, but comprised only with only 36% of sports-related images in university-sponsored newspapers.


Gendered coverage in the olympics

Gendered Coverage in the Olympics

  • The Olympic Games are a unique forum for the analysis of gender coverage due to the large audience of untraditional sports fans.

  • Women’s individual sports received twice as much airtime as women’s team sports during the 2000 Olympics (Tuggle, 1997).

  • During the 2006 Olympics, male athletes received 60% of broadcast time and comprised 60% of the top-20 mentioned athletes.

  • Although all 28 sports (2004 Summer Olympics) were broadcast on NBC or one of its related stations, 85% of primetime coverage was from four sports: gymnastics, track and field, swimming, and diving.

  • Overall, the Summer Olympics featured 52% male sports, while the Winter Olympics featured 60% male sports (Billings et al., 2008).


Important theories and terms

Important Theories and Terms

  • Framing- The function of framing is to build certain perceptions of reality through selection, emphasis, portrayal, and exclusion. Billings (2008) defines framing as, “It doesn’t tell people what to think, but what to think about.”

  • Gatekeeping- Gatekeeping is defined as the procedure through which social reality transmitted by the news is constructed (Kim, Walkosz, & Iverson, 2006).

  • There are a variety of forces that influences gatekeeping decisions, such as the opinions of major gatekeepers, the newsworthiness of the subject, and available time and resources (Shoemaker et al., 2001).

  • Hegemony- Hegemony is the use of cultural beliefs to maintain dominance of one group over another group (Kian, Mondello, & Vincent, 2009).

  • Male hegemony represents the construction that male dominance in sports is customary within popular culture (Hardin & Shain, 2005)


Important theories continued

Important Theories Continued

  • Gender Stereotypes- A gender stereotype is created when individual personalities witness and retain examples of masculine and feminine. This shapes the individual and collective understanding of gender expectations, what to say, what preferences to have, and how to act in certain situations (Angelini, 2008).

  • Team Metaphor- A bias that uses masculine language to describe team sports or other team activities. A sports metaphor that connects success in sports to a male-oriented business strategy (Gribas, 1999).

  • This concept portrays male athletes and business professionals as competitive and intense, while female athletes and business professionals are portrayed as corporative and focused on teamwork and cohesion (Gribas, 1993).


Categories of sports

Categories of Sports

  • Stylistic sports focus on elegance and beauty of form and movement (gymnastics, skiing, diving, and figure skating).

  • Combative sports involve direct physical contact and emphasize strength and power (football, boxing, and ice hockey).

  • Mechanized sports involve using a tool and emphasize patience and planning (golf, tennis, and curling).

  • Male audiences preferred combative and mechanized sports while female audiences preferred stylistic sports that avoid overt aggression. These findings reinforce the gender frame that influences which sports are broadcast to which target audiences (Sargent, 2003).


Interview with commercial appeal sports editor david williams

Interview with Commercial Appeal Sports Editor, David Williams

  • “There's not a policy --it's more a case of common sense and old-fashioned news judgment.”

  • “Reader interest drives a lot of it – knowing our audience. But we also judge the importance of the story.”

  • “It’s a major challenge. The newspaper pages are smaller, and there are fewer of them. And our staff is smaller. We can’t cover as many games. We’ve had to cut a lot of national news from the wires, too.”

  • “We've greatly increased coverage [University of Memphis Women’s basketball team] this year [2010-2011], despite our space and manpower issues, because we've made the news judgment that under Coach Melissa McFerrin the program is becoming relevant again.”

  • “But I think our reduced space and resources, - has forced us to make decisions on how we cover what we cover. In the end, we give the nod to the local stuff”


Commercial appeal statistics

Commercial Appeal Statistics

  • In 2009, 61% of female Memphis residents read The Commercial Appeal in an average week, compared with 54% of male residents.

  • The percentage of working women who read The Commercial Appeal was even higher at 62% in an average week, 29% on an average weekday or Saturday and 46% on an average Sunday (Claritas, 2009).

  • Commercialappeal.com achieves over 11.8 million monthly page views and over 1,379,691 unique users (Claritas, 2009).

  • 58% of Memphis adults read the paper in print or electronic form each week. The Commercial Appeal website was ranked first among local websites and second in the most used media in the Memphis area.


Research questions

Research Questions

  • RQ1: Are stories about high school and college men’s sports, teams, or players featured more often than stories about high school and college women’s sports, teams, or players in The Commercial Appeal’s sports section?

  • RQ2: How has the amount of stories about high school and college men’s and women’s sports in The Commercial Appeal changed in the last ten years, since the 1999 U.S. Women’s World Cup victory? (This includes regional and national high school and college sports).

  • RQ3: Do high school and college male sports, teams or players receive additional pictures compared with female sports, teams, or players in The Commercial Appeal sports section? (This includes regional and national high school and college sports).


Research questions continued

Research Questions Continued

  • RQ4: Do high school and college male sports, teams or players receive positive headline wording compared with female sports, teams, or players in The Commercial Appeal sports section? (This includes regional and national high school and college sports).

  • RQ5: Do stories about high school and college men’s sports, teams, or players feature specific subject matter compared with stories about high school and college women’s sports, teams, or players in The Commercial Appeal’s sports section? (This includes regional and national high school and college sports).


Methods

Methods

  • A content analysis was conducted using a qualitative coding instrument with several different main variables related to gender specific terms, teams, players, and other people associated with the sports industry.

  • Metrics included where the story appears in the sports section, additional elements accompanying the story (including pictures and specific names mentioned in headlines), the type of sports, and the subject matter of the article.

  • One set included articles about football and the other set excluded football from the calculations.

  • Sports teams and players mentioned were coded according to their gender.

  • Sports media featured several dominant formats including game or event stories, feature stories, game or event previews, editorial/commentary and news.


Methods continued

Methods Continued

  • The population of the print study began in 1999 and continued through 2010. The starting point for this study represented one of the more important current milestones for women’s sports coverage (1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Victory).

  • This project used a random stratified sample comprised of a selection of days of the week and months of the year. One randomly selected day each month was chosen for every year, which resulted in 132 total newspapers (twelve composite years).

  • A stratified sample was chosen in order to produce an accurate cross-section of every type of sport, day of the week and season of the year.

  • Sample: The Commercial Appeal represents the local sports brand and is attempting to maintain its influence as the primary news source in Memphis, despite cutbacks and layoffs.


Overall results by year r1 r2

Overall Results by Year (R1, R2)

  • The overall differential was +642 for men’s sports over women’s sports (including football).

  • The overall differential was +284 for men’s sports over women’s sports (excluding football).

  • The overall percentage for gendered content was 86% of men’s sports and 14% of women’s sports (including football).

  • The overall averages for gendered content was 77% of men’s sports and 23% of women’s sports (excluding football).


Differential results by year r1

Differential Results By Year (R1)


Differential results by year conti

Differential Results By Year Conti


Results percentage by year including football r1

Results-Percentage By Year: Including Football (R1)


Results percentage by year continued including football

Results-Percentage By Year (Continued): Including Football


Results percentage by year excluding football

Results-Percentage By Year: Excluding Football


Results percentage by year continued excluding football

Results-Percentage By Year: (Continued) Excluding Football


Overall results by month r1 r2

Overall Results by Month (R1, R2)

  • The highest differential was in November with a +94 difference. The lowest differential was in July with a +15 difference (including football).

  • The highest differential was in January with a +43 difference. The lowest differential was in September with a -1 difference (excluding football).

  • The overall differential between men and women’s sports for front-page stories was +271, 93.5% of the content was men’s sports and 6.5% of the content was women’s sports (including football).

  • The overall differential between men and women’s front-page front was +117, 86% of the content was men’s sports and 14% of the content was women’s sports (excluding football).


Results by month r2

Results By Month (R2)


Results by month continued

Results By Month (Continued)


Results for front page stories r2

Results For Front Page Stories (R2)


Results for front page stories continued

Results For Front Page Stories: (Continued)


Results for pictures and headlines r3 r4

Results for Pictures and Headlines (R3, R4)

  • The average percentage of images attached to men’s sports content was 54% and the average percentage of images attached to women’s sports content was 41%.

  • The average percentage of headlines attached to men’s sports content was 72% and the average percentage of headlines attached to women’s sports content was 80%.


Results for image content r3

Results for Image Content (R3)


Results for images continued

Results for Images (Continued)


Results for headlines r4

Results for Headlines (R4)


Results for headlines continued

Results for Headlines (Continued)


Results for subject matter r5

Results for Subject Matter (R5)

  • The five primary categories for this distinction were individual/team feature story, news story, game/event recap, game/event preview, or commentary/analysis.

  • Overall for men’s sports, 36% of the stories were game recaps, 29% were feature stories, 17% were news stories, 10% were game previews, and 9% were commentaries.

  • For women’s sports, 44% were game recaps, 13% were news stories, 8% were game previews, and 3% were game commentaries.

  • The most frequent subject matter for men and women’s sports was game recaps and the least frequent subject matter for both genders was commentaries.


Results for men s sports subject matter r5

Results for Men’s Sports’ Subject Matter (R5)


Results for men sports subject matter continued

Results for Men Sports’ Subject Matter (Continued)


Results for women s sports subject matter r5

Results for Women’s Sports Subject Matter (R5)


Results for women s sports subject matter continued

Results for Women’s Sports Subject Matter (Continued)


Discussion

Discussion

  • The results do show an overall disparity between the quantity of men and women’s sports content every year between January 1999 and December 2010. The difference between gendered content was substantially higher when football was included.

  • The disparity in coverage remained fairly consistent during the last twelve years. The only exception occurred from 2000-2002, which featured an increase in women’s sports content probably due the national publicity for women’s sports following the FIFA Women’s World Cup victory.

  • This increase in women’s coverage is relevant for future analysis and comparison following the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament in the summer of 2011.

  • Following 2002, the differential between men and women’s sports content remained consistently low until the end of this sample.


Discussion continued

Discussion (Continued)

  • The differences in gendered content between individual and team sports were minimal (which is contradictory to other national content analyses).

  • For men’s sports, 68% of content was comprised of team sports compared with 32% of content about individual sports. For women’s sports, 65% of content was comprised of team sports compared with 35% for individual sports.

  • Two regional women’s teams (University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee women’s basketball teams) received the large majority of women’s local coverage.

  • This dominance explains this difference in local sports content results compared with the national precedent.

  • The type of content that was most common for both genders was game recaps, followed by feature stories, news stories, game previews, and lastly commentaries/analyses.


Discussion continued1

Discussion (Continued)

  • There was a significant difference in front-page content, 93.5% including football and 86% excluding football for men’s sports compared with 6.5% including football and 14% for women’s sportsexcluding football.

  • The front page serves as the gateway to the entire sports section and the absence of women’s sports illustrates a troubling trend.

  • This difference has remained relatively steady throughout the twelve years included in this study.

  • The yearly range of men’s sports featured on the front page remains between 17-25 stories, while the range of women’s sports featured on the front page remains between 2-4 stories yearly (out of the sample of 12 paper per year).

  • The overall number of gender-related stories remained consistent as well. The number of men’s sports stories ranged from 49-73 and of women’s sports stories ranged from 3-27 (out of the sample of 12 paper per year)

  • The years of 2000-2002 featured the closest numbers between men and women’s sports. During this time period there were between 33-44 stories yearly about men’s sports compared with between 13-27 stories about women’s sports.


Discussion continued2

Discussion (Continued)

  • 54% of men’s sports content was accompanied with an image compared with 41% of women’s sports content.

  • These results are skewed due to the much smaller amount of women’s sports stories.

  • However, these findings reflect Williams’ assertion that the CA does not have a policy for images and adjusts according to the space available and the availability of certain images.

  • 72% of men’s sports content included a specific headline compared to 80% of women’s sports content. This result and the large number of specific headlines about women’s sports stands in contrast with the rest of these results and requires future study.

  • This study also found a larger amount of regional and national stories about men’s sports compared with the amount of women’s sports stories. Women’s sports stories were predominately local and regional (mostly from the University of Tennessee). This finding also requires future study.

  • There was also an increase in wire stories for men’s sports content. This finding could be analyzed further related to the increase in local sports departments’ use of wire copy especially if layoffs and cutbacks to the medium continue to increase nationally.


Final thoughts from commercial appeal sports editor david williams

Final Thoughts from Commercial Appeal Sports Editor, David Williams

  • “It’s no surprise that men’s sports receive much more prominent play in our section. Why the gap is larger in some years, smaller in others, I would chalk it up to the how those years played out – we react to the news, and every year is different.”

  • “I don’t believe the change reflected any kind of major change in editorial philosophy. If there was a major event that put a focus on women’s sports – World Cup soccer, the Olympics, a great season by the U of M women’s basketball team – that would naturally drive up the story count, and improve play, for women’s coverage that year”

  • “I think the sports market is what drives a lot of this. We don’t have a women’s college team like the Lady Vols. We don’t have a WNBA team.” It was news judgment – but really, the news (the event, the market) drove our coverage”


Limitations to study recommendations for future research

Limitations to Study/Recommendations for Future Research

  • Limitations to this study include the limited sample number and the use of only one medium, The Commercial Appeal newspaper.

  • This study also lacks an analysis of the online component of sports journalism as a means of comparison to the print form.

  • Ideas for future study include a content analysis of local Twitter/RSS feeds, and blogs of local high school and college sports writers. An analysis of social media will provide a snapshot at the local online sports coverage and how it relates to print coverage.

  • Several sections of this study can be expanded on including the differences in wire and local copy and a comparison between Memphis and another similar-sized metropolitan area.

  • This study hoped to bridge a gap in the literature of sports content analyses and provide a local and recent example to help contextualize the changes in the newspaper industry.

  • Any questions or comments?


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