Media coverage of womens sport

Unfortunately there has not been much research undertaken in this area. However, if you would like to carry out your own research the WSF can provide you with the methodology for recording the coverage in newspapers and sports publications, just contact us at the office.

A WSF member monitored the media coverage of the Sydney Olympics for the WSF and her findings were published in our Spring 2000 Newsletter. Copies are free to members, or £2.00 to non-members.

Also, our Information Pack has some useful information about the media coverage of women's sport, please see our 'Publications' page.

The following publications should be available from the British Library via your local library.

Australian Sports Commission Office of the Status of Women (1985), Women, sport and the media: a report to the Federal Government from the Working Group on Women in Sport, Australian Government Publishing Service, pp126.

Coddington A (1997), It's a Game of Two Halves, Brian, New Statesman and Society, 8 August, pp22-23.

Coventry City Council (1992), Women, sport and the media. A practical guide to help your work with your local media.

Davis L R (1997), The Swimsuit Issue and Sport: Hegemonic Masculinity in Sports Illustrated, Albany:NY:State University of New York Press, pp168.

Duncan M (1993), Beyond analyses of sport media texts: an argument for formal analyses of institutional structures. Sociology of Sport Journal, 4(10) pp 353-372.

Duncan M (1990), Sports photographs and sexual difference: images of women and men in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, Sociology of Sports Journal, March 1(7) pp22-43.

Ferkins L (1992), New Zealand Women in Sport: An Untapped Media Resource, New Zealand Journal of Health Physical Education and Recreation, 4(25) pp15-18.

Fitzhenry M (1990), Stop Press, Sport and Leisure, Jul/Aug 3(31) pp34-35.

Leah V M & Lumpkin A (1992), An Analysis of Sportswomen on the Covers and in the Feature Articles of Women's Sports and Fitness Magazines 1975-1989, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 2(16) pp121-126.

Lee J (1992), Media Portrayals of Male and Female Olympic Athletes: Analyses of Newspaper Accounts of the 1984 and 1988 Summer Games, International Review of the Sociology of Sport, 3(27) pp197-219.

Leicester (1994), Scottish sport in the making of the nation. 90 minute patriots? Leicester University Press.

Myers K (1997), Who Wants to Watch Women? Sunday Telegraph, 8 June, pp33.

Oakley J (1994), Fouls on the Fair Sex, Serve and Volley, Oct. Pp40-41.

Robinson L (1993), Images of Women Athletes: A Content Analysis of the British Media, Working Papers in Sport and Society, Coventry: University of Warwick, pp65-83.

Rowe D & Brown P (1994), Promoting Women's Sport: Theory, Policy & Practice, Leisure Studies, 13(2) pp97-110.

Welch J (1997), Loosing Track of Women, The Guardian, 11 August.

Wilson W (1997), Women's Sport in the Media, Olympic Review, Jun/Jly XXVLI (15) pp43-45.

Media Representation of Women's Sports

This paper details the findings of Womens Sports Foundation (WSF) member Adi Dolo who carried out a survey of the amount of coverage given by British Newspapers to women's sport. The survey compared the percentage space allocated to women's sport in the Monday editions of four newspapers; The Times, Daily Express, Guardian and Daily Telegraph, over a three month period.

Table 1 shows the coverage given to women's sport as a percentage of the total column centimeters allocated to sport in the newspapers.

  April May June
The Times
Total Coverage 11,098 9,775 12,075
Women's Coverage 531.5 373 788
% of Total Coverage 5.0 4.0 7.0
Daily Telegraph
Total Coverage 10,903 10,885 11,447
Women's Coverage 326 221 919
% of Total Coverage 3.0 2.0 8.0
Total Coverage 9,094 10,152 10,965
Women's Coverage 117 305 553
% of Total Coverage 2.0 3.0 5.0
Daily Express
Total Coverage 4,632 4,328 5,240
Women's Coverage 187 128 28
% of Total Coverage 4.0 3.0 5.0
Coverage Figures are given in column centimeters

As table 1 shows, women's sport typically accounts for between 4-5 percent of total sports coverage in the Monday sports sections of the newspapers. Those months with higher representation tended to be as a result of major events featuring women and men competing at the same venue, such as athletics meetings.

These findings show that in terms of percentage coverage, the status of women's sport has not increased during the last three years. In 1994 Sheila Pollard carried out a similar survey of the four newspapers in question. A comparison of these results with the 1997 results are shown in table 2.

Table 2: Comparison 1997 and 1994 media representation surveys, percentage of total sports coverage allocated to women's sport.

Newspaper April
The Times 3.6 5.0 5.1 4.0 5.5 7.0
Daily Telegraph 2.7 3.0 4.1 2.0 5.1 8.0
The Guardian 3.0 2.0 2.7 3.0 5.5 5.0
Daily Express 1.9 4.0 0.9 3.0 1.6 5.0
Womens Sports Foundation

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