Gendered Sports Media – The Independent (UK)

Following my analysis on unfair coverage of women’s sport on BBC Sport, where only 13% of the news where exclusively on women’s events, I turn my attention now to another key player in the British press – The Independent. As part of a larger research project that collects news since the beginning of 2019 from multiple media outlets from around the world, I have selected for this post a small section of this dataset focusing on a period from mid-March 2019 to end-April 2019.

During this period there were 1,919 news in total [part of a year long dataset containing over 14,000 news from The Independent that were automatically classified using machine learning – 97% accuracy for both sport and gender categories], where only 82 news were on women’s sport. This is a disconcerting meagre 4.2% of total news. Another 1.8% were on animal sports, mainly horse racing. The other 94% of all news were on men’s sport. But was this distribution (do not even know if I can call this a distribution) consistent across different sports covered by The Independent?

Well, no. Similar to my post about BBC Sport we find some sports having a more equal coverage. Surprisingly in Darts there are more news on women athletes than men (60-40), but other sports that can be said to be on equal footing are Tennis (47-53), and MMA (35-65). Meanwhile, we have some sports with 100% coverage dedicated to men (cricket, athletics, American sports, snooker). If we visualise this distribution across time we can note how little coverage and attention are given to women’s sport.

It might even surprise some that we have few days during this period where there were no coverage of any women’s sport at all. A rather disconcerting finding. Even more if we think that during 5 days there were more news on animals than on women.

However, trying to find a positive out of this analysis might be that all three sports where there were fairer distributions, women and men tend to compete at the same time/place as in Tennis Grand Slams, UFC events, and Darts competitions. Which is congruent to what I have discussed on my previous post about Le Tour de Yorkshire and social network prestige. Is this the answer for solving this unequal situation?

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