The recent personal attacks that Albany Times Union columnist Jennifer Gish received in response to a piece she wrote about Buffalo Bills fans highlight an ongoing issue for many women in sports media. In an age where the ability to comment on stories, blogs and through social media sites is instantaneous, sports writers and readers have more opportunity to interact than ever before. While these opportunities create a rich medium for dialogue, many times — too many times — they can devolve into personal attacks.
Sadly, sports reporters, particularly women, continue to face personal attacks from a narrow constituency of readers. While readers can disagree over conclusions or points of view, personally attacking the writer does not further the conversation. The comments can come privately, via email or voicemail, or publicly, through comment sections, Tweets and blog posts.
AWSM has always firmly believed that personal attacks have no place in the conversation. We support women who work in sports media and face those kinds of nasty, pointless comments.
This latest incident provides an opportunity for media organizations to review their policies regarding such comments. Does your website monitor the comment section? How does the website handle inappropriate comments? AWSM urges media companies to be vigilant about policing comments for personal attacks, which degrade the integrity of the other conversations worth having.