Buried treasures and missed opportunities in Victorian sports reporting

Big data analysis of gender portrayal in print media in Victoria, Australia from 2014 to 2019
Media reporting Journalism Professional sport Sport Mass media Gender Victoria

Media reporting plays a key role in shaping perceptions about sport and influencing social and gender norms. Sports media also shapes popular views about role models and success in sport. In fact, the centrality of sport and sports media is well recognised by the Victorian government, as reflected in the gender strategy. Research conducted for VicHealth has also found substantial levels of unmet demand for media coverage of female sports.

Key findings:

  • Content analysis revealed comparable and unbiased portrayal of men and women in sports reporting. For example, references to appearance, the use of gendered language and other measurable gender biases are infrequent in sports articles about both men and women.
  • Opportunities to read articles about women in sport are scarce and do not match the levels of female participation in sports, or the demand for articles about female sports. The vast majority of newspaper sports articles centre on men.
  • Female journalists are more likely to write about women in sport, but only account for 12 per cent of sports articles. The share of women writing sports articles fell from 18 per cent to 12 per cent over the five-year study period.
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