From The Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center website:
IU, Association for Women in Sports Media, Associated Press Sports Editors and National Sportscasters and Sportswriters hosting special panel on women in sports media
By Chris Dixon
IU National Sports Journalism Center
In recent months, women in the sports media industry have endured peepholes, catcalls and workplace harassment.
Why is this still happening? What do these incidents say about the challenges still facing women sports journalists? What can be done to improve working conditions for women in the business? And, how can sports news executives grow the number of women in their newsrooms?
On April 4, as the NCAA Women’s Final Four will be in full swing in Indianapolis, the Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center will host a special panel discussion with some of the nation’s top journalists on the IUPUI campus to discuss the role of women in sports media. The panel is being co-sponsored by Association for Women in Sports Media, the Associated Press Sports Editors and the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. The panel is titled, “Women in Sports Media: Obstacles, Opportunities and Observations.”
It will feature:
- Michael Anastasi, managing editor/sports for The Salt Lake Tribuneand incoming president of the Associated Press Sports Editors.
- Christine Brennan, award-winning columnist for USA TODAY and commentator for ABC News, CNN and NPR.
- Dave Goren, executive director of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
- Ann Killion, contributing writer for Sports Illustrated and author.
- Shelley Smith, correspondent for ESPN’sSportsCenter.
The panel discussion will take place at 4 p.m. in the first floor auditorium of the IUPUI Informatics and Communications Technology Complex, located at 535 W. Michigan St. in downtown Indianapolis. It is free and open to the public.
“This is a dynamic group of speakers, and AWSM is excited to be part of the collaborative effort to discuss issues of gender and the sports media,” said Amy Moritz, the president of the Association for Women in Sports Media. “As an organization, we continue to work toward increasing opportunities for women in sports media while ensuring a positive work environment. By bringing more voices to the table, we encourage diversity and create dialogue.”
The panel will be moderated by Pamela Laucella, the academic director of the National Sports Journalism Center, which is based at IUPUI and includes programs in Bloomington.
“The National Sports Journalism Center continues its commitment to hosting provocative discussions on timely issues in sports media,” Laucella said. “The discussion will explore the evolving roles of women in sports media careers, the challenges and potential for equity.”
One of the panelists, Shelley Smith, works for a network, ESPN, that has seen its share of controversies in recent months.
Sportscaster Ron Franklin was fired in January after allegedly referring to colleague and sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards as “sweet-baby.” Tony Kornheiser, co-host of Pardon the Interruption, was suspended in February 2010 for comments he made about the wardrobe of fellow ESPN journalist Hannah Storm.
But one of the most highly publicized incidents of sexual harassment in recent months was directed at Ines Sainz, a reporter for Mexico’s TV Azteca. Sainz was working on a story about quarterback Mark Sanchez when Jets players and personnel reportedly threw footballs in her direction and were heard catcalling. The story sparked a fierce debate about the treatment of women journalists, and what is and isn’t appropriate when covering male-dominated sports.
“In the past year, we’ve witnessed several disturbing instances of harassment directed toward women sports journalists,” said Tim Franklin, director of the National Sports Journalism Center, who helped organize the panel. “These cases raise at least a couple of fundamental questions: Why is this still happening, and what needs to change? Recent studies also have shown little progress in gender diversity in sports newsrooms. Why is that, and what will it take to improve the situation?
“This will be a timely and important discussion, and it’s appropriate that it’s occurring in Indianapolis during the Women’s Final Four basketball tournament.”
Michael Anastasi, the incoming president of the Associated Press Sports Editors, said that “the most urgent issue facing women in sports media today, in my view, is the ongoing dearth of women in management positions in print/online news organizations. Why is this so? What can we do about it?”