In my never-ending quest to expand my social media arsenal, I experimented a bit with Storify, which is an interesting tool that can combine various forms of media in one place. I posted a quick Storify on Serena Williams’ 23rd Grand Slam title as a way to aggregate the Twitter reaction from other athletes.
There aren’t many websites that almost exclusively feature writing from female sports journalists and that also emphasizes women’s sports. ESPN and Sports Illustrated cover women’s sports on occasion and employ a few female writers, but espnW is the premier website that celebrates both. espnW, a site owned by ESPN and branded towards women, has been my primary source of news for this blog.
According to the ESPN PR website:
“espnW is a global multiplatform brand dedicated to engaging and inspiring women through sports. espnW.com, the brand’s content home, offers total access to female athletes and the sports they play, takes fans inside the biggest events, and captures the biggest trends in sports life/style. espnW also provides a unique point of view on the sports stories that matter most to women and highlights the crossroads of sports and culture. Founded in July 2010, espnW’s content and voices live across digital, television, radio, films, events, educational platforms and social media.”
Laura Gentile founded the site in 2010, and the current editor-in-chief is Alison Overholt, who is also the editor-in-chief of ESPN the Magazine.
espnW has around 300,000 likes on Facebook, compared to ESPN’s 15,000,000, so it’s clearly a niche website that doesn’t receive the same traffic as the older, more general ESPN site. However, espnW is making steps forward. It launched its new espnW Brazil site in 2016 and also was part of the massive website rebuild that ESPN underwent in 2015.
The website’s interaction with the public is interesting to note; although espnW has a variety of social media platforms that allow for public interaction, the website itself cut its comment section in 2016 because of the frequency of inappropriate and offensive comments.
Like ESPN, the website is appealing to the eye with its use of text, pictures and videos (which can occasionally be overwhelming). It is easy to navigate and categorizes every topic in a logical way. The site has come under a bit of fire from women who question the idea that they need their own separate, “watered-down” site for sports, but I think the overall idea of espnW is good. It recognizes that many women consume news, particularly sports, a little bit differently than men, and it fits those needs. Women’s sports and and female journalists are also highlighted really well by espnW. It’s encouraging to see female athletes and writers get their own platform, because they sometimes tend to get lost in the masses of general sporting news.
Photo by Allison Leahy
I firmly believe that domestic assault cases should predominantly be covered by female journalists, primarily because of women’s sensitivity to the issue. ESPN’s Mina Kimes recently wrote an excellent piece on the domestic abuse history of Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill, proving that female journalists are possibly the most qualified to write about the topic.
Kimes’s story is a detailed, fair analysis of Tyreek Hill and so many other athletes involved in domestic assault cases. She wrote about the importance of covering those athletes extensively, despite how awkward and complex it may be.
“We’ll get it wrong so many times,” she wrote. “But every now and then, we’ll get it right, and when we do, it’ll matter.”
Deadspin’s Diana Moskovitz goes even further in her piece on Josh Brown, offering a different solution for dealing with domestic abusers in the NFL. She starts by empathizing with the victim, Molly Brown, and explains why so many women stay with their abusers. By making the story about victim in addition to just the famous athlete, she offers an important perspective that many male journalists tend to overlook.
“[D]on’t bother with the convenient lie that kicking Josh Brown out of the NFL accomplishes anything other than making fans feel less dirty about worshipping at the altar of a sports league that never has viewed its players as anything more than meat. Running him out of football may feel good; it also directly re-victimizes Molly Brown, especially given that she made it clear she wanted no part in the NFL’s punishment of her ex-husband and told authorities she worried about their financial future.”
Instead of bemoaning the effects that a domestic violence case might have on an athlete’s career, or claiming indignation and calling for a complete ban on the athlete, Moskovitz is able to criticize the NFL’s zero tolerance policy and offer a solution that helps victims and encourages treatment for the abusers, writing, “The best thing an employer can do is refer those in need of help to those who can provide it.”
Male journalists often don’t have that same astute insight. In fact, men covering domestic violence stories involving the abuse of a woman is reminiscent of white people covering racism. They just don’t have the intuition and understanding necessary to really grasp the implications of it all. (See: ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith’s infamous comments on domestic abuse, when he suggested that women “don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions” from men.)
Obviously not every male journalist makes comments like these, but I can’t imagine an instance in which a female reporter would display such ignorance on a sensitive, serious topic like this. The work of Kimes and Moskovitz displays just how perceptive women are to these issues because for them, it’s not just something that happens in sports – it’s an everyday concern.
Welcome to my blog! Because of my background in journalism and communications, I’ve always had a particular interest in how the media works, and I enjoy focusing on the sports media industry. Some of my posts celebrate female trailblazers in sports, while others critique the media’s coverage of women’s issues in sports (domestic violence, comments regarding female athletes’ appearances, sexist remarks towards female journalists and broadcasters, etc.). I have also profiled minority members of sports media, such as Mina Kimes, Shea Serrano and Melissa Ludtke.
Some of my favorite sources for sporting news are spearheaded by women and will be featured generously in this blog. ESPNW is the premier provider of sports coverage by female reporters, spotlighting a variety of sports and issues. ESPN and Sports Illustrated also boast some of the most talented female writers in the game in Ramona Shelburne, Jackie MacMullan, Alyssa Roenigk, Melissa Jacobs, Mina Kimes and Emily Kaplan. In fact, the editor-in-chief of ESPNW and ESPN the Magazine is Alison Overholt, one of the most ambitious sports media members out there.
These names barely scratch the surface of the incredible work that’s been done by women, now and in history. I look forward to a continued exploration of the complex, nuanced intersection between sports media and the impressive women involved.