Sexual Assault Coverage is“significantly skewed toward the bylines and voices of men,”

The article, “Most Sports Coverage Of Sexual Assault Is Written By Men“discusses a study done on coverage of sexual assault on high school and college campuses. The study shows that the majority of stories on this topic were written by men, particularly in the sports section. I was surprised to read in the article that alleged victims received less than 2% of the coverage in sports stories discussing sexual assault. I thought that the author summarized the study effectively and that the reader can easily understand the results. However, I would have liked to see more information about the implications of the study and its results. This was touched upon briefly towards the end of the article, but I wish that the author had elaborated more on this topic. I also thought that the first photo in the article was unnecessary, as it was only loosely related to the subject of the article. Here are some questions that I have:

  • How does the author use statistics to make a convincing argument? Does the graphic add to the audience’s understanding of the data?
  • How are quotes used in this article? What impact do they have on the reader? Is the author missing any perspectives that should have been included in the article?



5 Responses to “Sexual Assault Coverage is“significantly skewed toward the bylines and voices of men,””

  1. Hi Morgan,

    Thanks for introducing this article to us!

    I think the author just reported on the statistics, and listed it out for the reader to know about the study. I like how she showed the differences between the statistics on stories about campus sexual assault over all and statistics on the sports section. I thought the “who was quoted” graphic was interesting and helps make the data clear, but I thought the “writing rape” graphic wasn’t represented in a fair way.

    I wish that more studies, quotes, and sources were used to report on this story. I think having a quote from a male or male reporter would have made the story even more interesting, and would have opened doors to different perspectives behind the study’s findings. There were no clear male sources in this article.

  2. Hey Morgan,

    This is a really interesting topic that I hadn’t really considered before now, so thanks for sharing this article. I definitely agree with Yumi that this piece could have used a male source, even if all it did were prove the graphics. I think the main problem with the article, though, is that the more troubling statistic, that “Male sportswriters sourced other men 81 percent of the time in their stories, while they only quoted women 7 percent of the time. (This was a stark increase from male journalists overall, who sourced other men 54 percent of the time and women 28 percent of the time.),” gets a bit buried in the story and the graphic, whereas the general statistic about men covering sexual assault in sports more than women got the headline and the lede. The latter isn’t palatable, but it’s not that surprising, considering the overall gender imbalance in sports reporting. The former seems like a much more serious breach of professional etiquette and ethics, and possibly should lead to shifts in training at news organizations.

    Also, I wish this article had been a little more careful in its discussion of victims — men are, quite often, victims of sexual assault, and therefore I wish the article hadn’t relied on the assumption that male reporters were ignoring female victims, or at least made clear that they were talking about female victims specifically.

  3. I am going to follow strongly Giancarlo’s lead on the problems with the article because I was asking the same questions as I read it. First off, why is it hidden in text that “Male journalists sourced other men 54 percent of the time and women 28 percent of the time.” There are just as many women in high-profile positions that get daily news coverage, so why is their this huge imbalance? Although, I do understand the lack of stories written by women in this category because sports writers are generally male. I do not think this finding has malice behind it, but rather there is a different interest level in the topic at hand between the sexes.

    In response to the photo at the beginning of the article, it is meant to be an example of a high-profile athlete, Jameis Winston, who was accused of sexual assault while he was the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback of the Florida State Seminoles. I think it has more relevance to the story than it may seem. With the infographics, I did think that they provided good insight. In fact, that was a better way to explain the stats then the authors method of simply listing them off. I think it was a decent article, but I think it could have been presented in a more compelling way.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you for this article. It is not something that I was aware of before, but upon further reflection it does seem to make sense how this could happen (and I am not supporting this reality in any way). That being said, I want to point out that although, yes, men journalists do seem to be attracted to writing about sports more than their female counterparts, this should not dictate who they interview when writing about particular subjects, and especially about sexual assault. Even if there are going to be more male journalists writing about sports, this does not give them an excuse to exclude women from their stories. Although I think it would be helpful for more women to write for sports columns and to specifically write about sexual assault in sports cases, seeing as though the statistics say women are more likely to include both male and female perspectives in a more equal manner, I think the more important problem to address here is who is being interviewed and why some voices are left out of an article compared to others. If the reason for this is because males are the journalists writing these stories and are biased to the perspectives of their male counterparts, then something needs to be done to ensure that more female perspectives are being included in such articles. Once again, thank you for the interesting read.

  5. Thanks, Morgan, for starting this valuable discussion. Interestingly, while you have been discussing under-representation of female journalists in coverage of sex assaults by athletes, a hot topic on the Society of Environmental Journalists’ listserv this week was under-representation of female journalists in high-profile coverage of science. Study about that was released recently.

    Here’s the an article from The Open Notebook that sparked the science-related conversation:

    The listserv conversation was very interesting, with both male and female journalists sharing stories about the realities of balancing career, family and other interests. I can’t share any more because the listserv posts are private to SEJ members. But if you are interested in joining, student membership is $25 for the first year:

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