A number of news organisations have taken initiatives to increase coverage of women’s sport and to give support to women who wish to work in that field of journalism. In addition, said Andrew Moger, CEO of the News Media Coalition, editors were playing their role in prompting debate about gender issues within sport through news coverage and opinion-forming articles.
Moger was speaking at the Council of Europe’s (CoE) “All In Plus’ event today (May 10th, 2023) in Strasbourg aimed at ‘promoting greater gender equality in sport”. This was the second council event exploring how sport federations, government institutions and other organisations could help challenge discrimination, misogyny, gender stereotyping and break down barriers to women in media.
During a session on ‘The role of the media in sport’, Moger stressed: ‘At the outset it is important to distinguish between what we might conveniently label the media. There are different sectors which each have different roles, audiences and scope for immediate change. There is the broadcast sector, especially those which are partners to sport events, which have the greatest opportunity to work on programming balance. There’s social media with all its challenges of abuse of athletes and journalists; personal publishing, about which we each have to take responsibility; and then the news media sector which provides a mirror on society including changing attitudes.’
Challenged to comment on how seriously news organisations took issues of women’s representation in newsrooms and in news pages, Moger said: ‘As I look around newsrooms of both publishers and news agencies, I can see many that have taken initiatives to identify how women can be better represented particularly in decision-making roles and find new audiences for coverage of women’s sport.’
He added: ‘They are far from passive in this respect. Some have recruited women to senior editorial roles and provide support to women, as well as male, journalists who suffer abuse from fans in stadia but also online’.
‘Of course for every news organisation and publication due to their different histories, business-models, audience expectations and cultures in their countries there is no single industry approach across many independent news businesses.’
Moger concluded: ‘I don’t want to overstate the progress that has been made, but are signs of positive change in this area’.
The panel brought together specialists and leaders in the field including Mejdaline Mhiri, Sports commentator, journalist, handball player, and co director of French association of women in sports journalism and Mary Byrne, Editor in Chief of the Olympic Channel Services, International Olympic Committee
Mhiri is leading efforts in France to promote the profile of female sports journalists in France. She has founded an association that unites female sports journalists, brings to attention the challenges faced by female sports journalists in their day to day work and has written a charter inviting newsrooms to recruit more women journalists.
The council will now embark on expanding its data research to identify which sport federations and national institutions are codifying efforts in this area.
Link to event webpage: https://www.coe.int/en/web/sport/all-in-plus-launch