Lindsay Gibbs and Tori Burstein of Power Plays, in their latest #Covering The Coverage look at this year’s Final Four, analyzed six newspapers’ coverage from March 31 (the day after both men’s and women’s NCAA Elite Eight completed) through April 5 (the day after the women’s national title game and the day of the men’s). They found that men’s college basketball gets about twice as much coverage as women’s college basketball.
The following six newspapers were chosen because of their wide circulation around the country: USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. The two women-focused only on the papers’ NCAA coverage. The men got over 21% while the women only got 11%. Five of the six newspapers had more men’s coverage than women.
The New York Times led in covering women with 10 women’s tournament stories compared to 6.5 men’s stories. The LA Times was the worst with 33 men’s stories and only five women’s stories.
“It’s important for us to tally not just the number of stories but also the placement of stories,” wrote Gibbs. Of 90 total sports front page stories, there were 14.5 women’s front page stories and 25.6 men’s front-page stories.
“When we started monitoring coverage,” said Gibbs, “the initial goal was to see media dedicate at least 33% of its coverage to women’s sports. The only paper that got even somewhat close to the 33% goal was the New York Times, which came in at 27.17%.”
Gibbs continued, “Every single paper still overwhelmingly covered more men’s sports than women’s sports during our six-day span.”
We did our own check on the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which each day at the top of its sports front page says, “Top 10 Sports Section in the nation.” Our analysis, which took place during a four-day span (April 1-4), fell well below Gibbs and Burstein’s. The Strib had two WBB and two MBB front page stories each, but only once were there more women’s basketball stories (two) than men’s (one).
The final tally: five WBB stories (4.5%) and eight MBB stories (7%) out of 111 total sports stories.
“I have a lot of mixed feelings looking at this data,” Gibbs told the MSR of her report. “Overall, there is still such a wide gap between coverage of women’s sports and coverage of men’s sports.”
Sadly, between the Power Plays report and ours, nothing new was unearthed. Our simple solution is to even out the coverage, making these sports pages become equitable by gender. Editors must see women’s sports more favorably rather than only zeroing in on controversial topics such as the unequal facilities discovered during the NCAAs. That’s basically ambulance-chasing reporting
“Women’s sports are moving in a direction in which people need to hop on now before it’s too late,” advised Los Angeles Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike during the team’s media day last month.
“It’s good that big events in women’s sports are starting to get their due,” said Gibbs. “But my hope is that reporters and editors will start including all women’s sports in their daily coverage plans.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.