For the month of April, our data collection of mainstream media’s online reporting of women’s sports and women in sport found that the coverage only averaged 8.4%.
Women’s sports have experienced a severe lack of media representation and consideration during the early impacts of COVID-19. Our data analysis produced in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology demonstrates this.
We know this is also a difficult time for media outlets in the management of journalists’ time, the standing down of newsroom staff and cutting of freelance budgets. At Siren, we have many friends who work in different media roles, and we know how hard it is right now. It’s hurting us not to see as many bylines from the wonderful reporters, analysts and photographers that cover women’s sports who we’ve come to love.
But what is additionally hard to see is how men’s sports are still being given so much more, disproportionate coverage in a time of no sports. Co-founder Kasey Symons spoke about this on radio with our friends at Chicks Talking Footy last week.
While the sporting world came to a standstill a month ago, sports reporting did not. But women’s sports are being left out of the re-watches and nostalgic conversations of great games and athletes of the past that are being had to fill the void of live sport. There are no, or very few women’s sports films, documentaries or books included in lists of recommendations to pass the time in isolation. Recovery strategies, pay cuts, and athlete well-being for women’s sports are not being given the same airtime.
The recovery of all sports is important and worthy of discussion and debate, but we need to see women’s sports further included as we move into a time where sport may start to become possible again.
We are going to be continuing our work to capture this data for the month of May to analyse how moving into recovery might impact the coverage.
This week, we did see a very slight increase of coverage. It was a week where we had two days of double figures as opposed to the two days of double figures we saw over the whole of last month.
This boost was mostly due to the AFLW Awards and coverage of winner, Carlton’s Maddie Prespakis.
Prespakis was celebrated for her sensational season, seeing her go from winning the Rising Star award in her debut season, to beating out the rest of the competition in year two to become the overall best and fairest and being the first Indigenous woman to win the award.
The end of the week looked to finish a little higher than what we’ve seen, but the drop back to 7% on Sunday was disheartening.
We’ll continue to work in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology to record this data and analyse how the coverage of women’s sport and women in sport changes, or remains the same, over this period where we’ll see more announcements from federal and state governments about sport’s immediate future.
And if you want your women’s sports fix, we’ll keep trying to do our best at Siren to bring it to you as well as sharing as much women in sport content in our ‘Siren Call’ from alternative and independent media still working hard in this space.