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