According to new research on sports coverage in 80 newspapers from 22 countries, sport journalism is clearly a soccer-focused man’s world. More than 90% of the named journalists are male, and 85% of the articles written about individuals – typically athletes – about men. FIFA’s football (soccer) can be called the only “world media sport”, dominating especially in Europe and South America (Romania the extreme with more than 85% of the coverage about soccer), whilst media coverage of different sports is more equally distributed in countries like the US. (baseball there leading with some 22%).
Despite the massive amounts of money in sports, sports politics and economic issues are of little interest to the printed media, the media coverage instead dominated by sports stars and their performances. Most often about male sports stars, or when about women, often with ‘unlucky’ pictures of tennis women’s breasts and behinds, even in well-renowned newspapers.
Sports journalism is generally not living up to the journalistic ideals, with a limited focus on relevance, instead mostly centered on national heroes and sports that the medias themselves are especially happy about, for instance soccer, with the journalists allowed to root for their favorites, with the mentioned discrimination of women, and questionable independence from commercial partners and the writers own interest, as former stars in the particular sport or journalists focusing on only one sport. 40% of the more than 11,000 sports articles had only one source, and 25% of the articles no source at all.
Read more here on Play The Game and see the presentation here, I’ve taken most of the harsh comments in this article’s third paragraph from this story in Danish on Videnskab.dk. There is also a defense from a Danish sports editor here on Videnskab.dk, but I didn’t find it relevant :-)