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Media - Society’s Most Powerful and Influential Purveyor of Cultural and Ideological Messages

Essay by   •  June 22, 2017  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,082 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,021 Views

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The media is our society’s most powerful and influential purveyor of cultural and ideological messages, whether they are obvious or latent. This is especially true of the sports media, which downplays the importance of women’s sports to males and females alike. Although sports are viewed as a system of attaining personal achievement and moving towards equality among the sexes, the “female versions” of most sports are widely considered less significant than their male “equivalents.” While the most prevalent male sports athletes are household names, with their names and faces being printed on magazines and apparel, dominant female athletes are rarely featured in the limelight or well known throughout general society. This is largely due to the sports media’s grossly disproportionate balance of its coverage between male and female sports. Two relevant pieces of literature that support this conviction are “Female Athletes in the Media: Under Representation and Inadequacy” by Jessica Shaller of St. John Fisher College, and “Media Coverage of Women’s Sports Is Important” by Donna A. Lopiano, Ph.D. of Sports Management Resources. Through examining the homepage of ESPN’s website, I estimate that less than 5% of the featured material will pertain to women’s sports, while the overwhelming majority will cover men’s sports and male athletes.

I decided to code the homepage of the ESPN website because it is commonly known as the most popular sports-journalism outlet available on the Internet. ESPN, Inc. is the leading multinational sports entertainment company featuring the broadest portfolio of multimedia sports assets. Therefore, observations derived from examining its website are an accurate depiction of trends within the sports media industry as a whole. As I looked to prove that the sports media disproportionately represents men’s athletics over women’s athletics, my approach in coding was to physically count the number of men’s and women’s sports articles, scores, and “tweets” that appeared on the ESPN homepage on four separate days. I surmised that if ESPN did not believe any information within these three categories were especially relevant or interesting to their audience then they would not publish it onto the homepage.

My findings did not come as a surprise, as I found the vast majority of articles, scores, and “tweets” concerned men’s athletics over women’s athletics. On April 6, 2015, the number of men’s sports articles featured on the ESPN homepage totaled 89 as compared to a measly two featured women’s articles. Additionally, the number of men’s sports scores included in the “Top Events” scores section of the homepage added up to sixteen scores, next to only two scores from women’s sporting events, and 21 “tweets” regarding men’s sports were featured next to the mere five “tweets” that mentioned a women’s sport or female athlete. What must be mentioned, however, is the fact that this was day that the NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Final Four games took place. Even though these games are two of the most popular events in women’s sports, the overwhelming majority of featured publications still highlighted men’s athletics. In fact, every single publication that concerned women’s athletics was about these Final Four games. There were no articles, scores, or “tweets” to be found regarding any women’s sports that were currently in the regular season.

The data became even more

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