By the numbers

In our second newsletter, we started to publish what would become a regular feature for us: statistics on the coverage of women’s sports by mainstream media.

In Siren #02 we revealed that for Sunday, January 26 only 11.86% of sports coverage was dedicated to women’s sport. If we removed stories about Ash Barty, who of course deserved all the coverage she received during the Australian Open, the number dropped down to 6.19%. 

We continued to publish these numbers in each newsletter since. Only twice in two months did we reach more than 25%. 

On February 2 we recorded 27.4% and on International Women’s Day on March 8, we saw the biggest number we’d encounter in this experiment: 31.5%.

The data we have published in our previous newsletters has been collated by a friend of ours from the #womeninsport twittersphere. Noely (@YaThinkN) completes the enormous task each Sunday to determine the percentage of the coverage based on a method she completes the same way each time for consistency.

“I try to start at 7am on a Sunday as I read an analytics piece years ago that stated that most [people] read the sports pages on a Sunday morning from 7am to 8am, hence me choosing that time.”

“I only do the splash which can be seen on a standard screen monitor, as that screenshot is comparing screen real estate with screen real estate, therefore apples with apples amongst publications for ‘fairness’ of prominence. Hence why I always include the screenshot on the tweet so people can see what pieces they were.”

Noely has been collating these numbers to demonstrate that while we might be seeing more coverage of women’s sport than we’re used to and growth in participation and talent, we’re really not seeing that much change in terms of hard numbers. 

Ever since COVID-19 has caused the mass cancellations and postponements of sports, we’ve become increasingly concerned about how this situation can impact women’s sport in very different ways from their male counterparts. 

We did not publish the Sunday numbers for a couple of editions of this newsletter. We knew the world was hurting and was responding as best as it could. Noely still posted the numbers on her twitter account and we saw them drop into single digits for the first time since we started Siren.

And it’s not because there is no sport. We’ve seen an abundance of commentary on the scenarios facing multiple sporting codes as well as re-watch recommendations and sports nostalgia to fill void. Most of it omitting women’s sports issues and highlights of women’s sporting events past.

For example, US sports and pop culture site The Ringer posted an article on 40 classic sports moments to revisit, there was only one women’s sport moment, The 2011 Women’s World Cup game when the USWNT beat Brazil.

Continuing to collect the data of how women’s sports are being covered at this time is still incredibly important. While sports have stopped, and journalists are being stood down and the media as an industry is being adversely affected, sports are still being covered, and women’s sport is falling further and further away from the conversation.

In light of this, we are thrilled to announce that we’ve formed a partnership with Swinburne University of Technology’s Sport Innovation Research Group to spend a whole month collecting daily data of mainstream media coverage of women’s sport.

This data is important as it’s hard numbers that show we’re experiencing severe, gendered disparities during this crisis. 

We’re excited to have the opportunity to work on this project with Swinburne and to be able to share this information with our readers. 

We are collating the number of stories on the splash page, at the same time—as per Noely’s method—for each of the publications listed below, every day for a month.

Brisbane TImes, Guardian Aus, News.com, Couriermail, Fox Sports, 7 Sport, 10 Daily, WWOS, ABC, The Australian, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Telegraph, MSN Australia, West Australian, The Advertiser, The Herald Sun, The NT News, The Mercury, SBS

We’ll share the week-by-week data with you and also provide some context to what we’re seeing and what trends are emerging in the articles that are being published on women’s sports.

And we’ll keep writing women in sport stories here at Siren.

This week’s numbers – collected by Siren in partnership with Swinburne:

The landscape of women’s sports coverage in mainstream media on Sundays prior to the impacts of the coronavirus. Data collected by Noely:

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