The International Journal of Sport and Society offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Sport & Society Research Network.
Sports media research often highlights the significant under-representation of female athletes. However, very little research in this area has focused on online sports media coverage. This study investigated the quantity and quality of media coverage received by Australian female athletes during the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in August 2016. The current study provides an analysis of three major Australian newspapers’ online versions and offers a valuable comparison to Litchfield and Osborne’s study on print versions of the same publications during Olympic years. This study investigates a simultaneous “raising of the bar” and “performing below par” of the Australian sports media in relation to a focus on female athletes during this period of time. Although there were a number of traditional narratives surrounding female representation in sports stories found, there were also some significant differences between online and print media related research in this area.
The representations of women athletes in traditional media spaces have been an area of enquiry that has attracted a plethora of academic interest since the 1980s. However, online and social media spaces provide a new platform for such enquiries. This research paper was one of several deriving from a larger study that investigated the quantity and quality of media coverage received by female athletes at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. This research was one of the first pieces of research that focused on Australian female athletes and online media. This particular research paper showed that while there are some real positives for gender equality in sports reporting in online spaces, there are also spaces where there was not equal or fair gendered sports coverage (such as photographs and non-Olympic reporting). Additionally, the Olympic Games event provides only a short period of time where regular and respectful coverage for female athletes is present in the sports media in Australia and this does not reflect what sports reporting may look like when the Games have finished. This type of research remains critical to developing an understanding of how women fit in the world of sport, particularly in the online space of sports coverage.
— Chelsea Litchfield
Dessie Clark, The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp. 1–11
Taylor McKee, The International Journal of Sport and Society: Annual Review, Volume 7, pp. 1–11
Deborah Agnew and Murray J. N. Drummond, The International Journal of Sport and Society: Annual Review, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.9–23
Deborah L. Rivel, The International Journal of Sport and Society: Annual Review, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.1–10