Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton said the number of men enrolled in the Broadcasting & Journalism program at Western Illinois University far exceeds the number of women. She feels the program's emphasis on sports broadcasting might attract more men than women because professional sports broadcasting continues to be a male-dominated field.
Crighton said she’s seen women who go into sports broadcasting deal with rude and nasty comments about their work simply because of their gender.
Crighton said it took decades for newsroom managers to start assigning women to the anchor desk. Now women anchors are accepted by managers and audiences without question. She said executives must be willing to do the same in sports broadcasting even if it means dragging audiences along and forcing them to accept the change.
Panelist Will Buss agreed that the field of sports broadcasting is a men’s club and that people – especially in management -- need to become more open minded about allowing women to do play-by-play and analysis for football, baseball, and other men’s sports.
Buss also said the issue extends beyond the broadcast booth -- he pointed out there are few public address announcers at sports stadiums.
Buss said women have proven they can cover sports and do outstanding work. One example he cited is Jane Leavy, the bestselling author of books about baseball Hall of Fame players Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax.
Panelist Rich Egger said it’s rare to hear a woman doing play-by-play of a game unless it’s a women’s contest. And he said analysts/commentators – whether male or female -- are often former athletes rather than graduates of broadcasting and journalism programs so that limits opportunities for women.
He said former softball standout Jessica Mendoza does analysis during ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts but there are few (if any) women football players at any level. This means women covering major college or professional football often end up being sideline reporters instead of getting a chance to do analysis from the booth.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.