Monday, June 07, 2010

Study on television coverage reveals that very little is revealed

This is old news (well a week; so ancient in blogosphere terms). But last week the Center for Feminist Research at University of Southern California released a report written by USC professor Dr. Michael Messner (Messner blogged about the study at the Huffington Post) and Purdue professor Dr. Cheryl Cooky that was all about the the coverage of women's sports in the television media. The study on televised media has been going on for twenty years now. The report is just the latest incarnation.
If you sense a tone of resignation in this post, well you're not imagining things.
I don't think many of us (even some in the media) are surprised. But the report and the longitudinal study remain crucial and an example of how and why academics do work that remove some of those bricks from the ivory tower. Those of us who study sport and culture are not surprised. Maybe most of the readers won't be either. But they will be reminded. When someone asks why we still need feminism, why we do not live in a gender neutral society; when someone asks for evidence--it will be there. (There are a myriad of others reasons why this research is important, I'm just not going into them right now.)
Here are some of the lowlights from the report:
  • during March Madness coverage of men's basketball is ten times greater than women's basketball
  • televised coverage is at its lowest level since the study began in 1989
  • in 1999 9 percent of sports coverage was devoted to women. Nine percent is only a good number when we note that the 2009 percentage was 1.6
  • frequently coverage of women's sports is motivated by a controversy, a la New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert
  • 1.4 percent of Sports Center's coverage is given to women's sports
  • Sports Center always--as is ALWAYS--leads with men's sports
  • ticker time for women's sports (something I have been known to complain about) during Sports Center is 2.7 percent; a drop from 2004 when women received 8.5 percent of ticker time

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