SPORTS

Sports Journalists Reminded Of Their Roles

Given the well-understood power of the media to agenda set and frame public discourse, journalists have a tremendous responsibility and that also includes sports journalists. These were highlighted by Australian
07 Dec 2016 11:27
Sports Journalists Reminded Of Their Roles

Given the well-understood power of the media to agenda set and frame public discourse, journalists have a tremendous responsibility and that also includes sports journalists.

These were highlighted by Australian High Commissioner, Margaret Twomey who officiated during the launch of Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) Women in News and Sports Panel Discussion in Suva.

“Just as it is important to call out sexism in the media, it is equally important for all of us– not just women- to help lift the profile of women in news and sport,” she said.

“Women constitute one half of the population and overlooking women’s sporting achievements and points of view, leads to an incomplete or incorrect picture of reality.”

Twomey stated that media needed to articulate more woman stories as valuable as the men’s.

“If the media is feeding society the message that women do not deserve the same air-time as they are not as valued or important as men– then it’s not hard to contemplate the ramification as this message trickles down through society.

“My main point that I would like to make today is that by pushing back on outdated views, we allow the natural progression towards ‘normalising’ coverage of women’s sports and allowing gender equality for media professionals.

“I know that a well-used defence for the media when under attack is to state that the media is simply reflecting society’s views- as opposed to formulating them,” she said.

Twomey also stressed how sexism was now become an issue for some female reporters

“Recent examples of sexism in sport from my own country that come to mind include: A female sport reporter being ‘asked out’ by an international cricket player live during the TV coverage and then told by him “Don’t blush, baby”.

“Also A well-known media personality ‘joked’ about drowning a female sports journalist because he disagreed with her commentary and the highest rating sports show’s host made sexist remarks toward his female co-host

“With each example came a growing public and media backlash to this sexism portrayed through the news and sports media, “she said.

She added that comments and behaviour that in recent years, would have been dismissed as ‘a light-hearted joke’ are now dominating the headlines and generating a greater level of awareness and public discussion.

She encouraged journalists and participants during the panel discussion to take a more practical approach towards this behaviour.

“I encourage you all to take the opportunity through WINS to connect and network with media counterparts. We welcome this opportunity to encourage Fijian voices and expertise to contribute to a growing community of women in the sports media.

“We are starting to witness (even if only slight) shifts in the language we use and the seriousness we give to discussing sexist behaviour, which is an outcome that WINS is hoping to encourage,” she said.

She added that, “The media is also starting to embrace the changed portrayal of women – no matter if they are on the field or report the sporting events, society is slowly moving in the right direction but there is a lot more that you can do

“I challenge each and every WINS participant here today to raise the profile and understanding of how sport contributes to gender equality as well as to produce multi-platform media content to help raise awareness, empower women in the media and generate local, national and global community debate sports.”

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