No reason to fret about women’s hoops coverage

As soon as I saw this Tweet from USA Today’s Christine Brennan this morning . . . .

@cbrennansports For those unhappy (disgusted?) with how #womensfinal4 is covered by most newspapers, check out#USAToday sports:

. . . I realized it deserved the following response. I posted this first on Twitlonger and plan to explore this more in a later post, but this is what I should have told her when I had the chance in Indianapolis during the Women’s Final Four. I’ve edited and expanded it slightly from what I originally Tweeted:

“Print is not the future for women’s hoops coverage. I know, because I covered the sport for a major newspaper for many years. Then the newspaper business imploded. To assert that the mass media will, or should, devote more resources to a niche interest is ludicrous. Especially when better alternatives are available.

“The suggestion that coverage is ‘worse’ because of the decline of print — and the ever-present ‘sexism’ that she and her ilk spout like they’re breathing air — is wrong-headed. I’ll blog more about this later, but on Saturday I sat next to Christine Brennan at a Women’s Final Four panel discussion about coverage of women’s basketball, and was taken aback by her dismissive attitude toward the ‘Internet.’ It is not a monolithic entity but the place where coverage of women’s hoops, like most niche topics, can and must flourish.

“Of course there is sexism there, but so what? You make of the Net what you want. It’s not a passive medium like print. This is 2011, but her tone came right from the late 1980s.

“There are two innovations that I’d suggest any fan of the sport, and students of new media, should look at: the Twitter account of @hoopfeed, which is a curated, constantly updated news wire that’s all women’s basketball. There’s nothing like it, and fans can’t get enough. If Christine would check it out, she’d see that there’s quite a bit of coverage of the game, and not just from newspapers.

“There’s also Inside Women’s Basketball, which is a very well-done quarterly women’s hoops online magazine that includes blog posts from Mel Greenberg, who created the first women’s poll in the late 1970s.

“The individuals behind these efforts and I and others have been talking about all this a lot since we’ve been here in Indy, and frankly we don’t have time to gripe about the way we think things should be. The Web, social media and especially mobile is where a burgeoning part of the women’s basketball audience — young girls and women who play the game — gets its news and information. It’s time to go there, instead of demanding they come to a place where few of them will ever go.

“The national dailies like Christine’s and the smaller papers, especially those in college towns, will follow women’s teams most extensively. But the major metro dailies like the one I used to work for are the missing element here. As much as I wish at times that I could have my old beat back, this new reality doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

“Marie Hardin of the sports journalism program at Penn State examined this issue recently in Nieman Reports, but I contend the focus is misplaced. If you’re always going to compare coverage of women’s sports to men’s, you’re always going to be disappointed. Perhaps some people feel the need to find something to gripe about (in women’s sports I call them The Sisters of Perpetual Indignance), but this is the wrong way to approach the subject.

I’d like to ask Christine (and Marie and anyone else who subscribes to their meme) to check out these new women’s hoops ventures and give them her support, but I rarely see her interact with her nearly 7,500 Twitter followers. So I doubt she’ll see this post, or even acknowledge it if she does.”

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  1. Lisa B
    Posted April 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I live in a college town, Gainesville, FL, and our local newspaper, The Gainesville Sun, carries very little coverage of women’s basketball including our own UF women’s basketball team. I learned a long time ago that the real coverage is on the internet via different sites.

    Last year, I started following Rebecca Lobo’s tweets. She’s got a great sense of humor – she also turned me on to @Hoopfeed. And through @Hoopfeed I learned of Mel Greenberg’s site. So, I’ve been in hog heaven the entire NCAA tournament and WNIT (yes, I enjoyed that tournament, too).

    BTW, I’m 50-something female who never played organized basketball but love the game – especially, the women’s game. I might be a little more techno savvy than my contemporaries as my business is IT, but as I go along I try to tune friends into the internet and the wealth of women’s basketball information there.

  2. Posted April 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Glad to hear it, Lisa! There are quite a few people who are trying to make women’s basketball coverage more readily available for fans like you, and Hoopfeed does it about as well as anyone.

    As for local coverage of Florida, you may want to also check out the student newspaper, which recently ran a rather critical two-part story on the Gators under Amanda Butler. It generated a lot of heat as well. Next year should be interesting in Gainesville.

  3. Lisa B
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Wendy, I will occasionally read the Alligator. I did read the two part series on Butler and was one of the ones criticizing it. The tone and flavor put a bad taste into my mouth. I do agree that the team is going to need to win a few more games next year but I don’t think Butler should be canned and I don’t think she has anger issues as the writer was implying. I like Butler a lot and I’m pulling for her to be successful here at Florida.

  4. Posted April 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Looks like Florida’s got a lot of good talent coming back, and the SEC isn’t as top-heavy as its been in the past, so they should be poised to have a good season.

    Think the stories were a good attempt by a student reporter to do some serious coverage of women’s hoops, especially with so much pressure now on women’s coaches to win. But the execution was off. Know the feeling! :-)