The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is the largest newspaper in Allegheny County. However, when reading the Post-Gazette’s sports section, it’s difficult not to notice that there are very few stories covering women’s sports or female athletes. To determine whether this is a systemic problem, the WLP kept a detailed record for ten days from July 21, 2009, through July 30, 2009, on how much coverage was devoted to women athletes.
We measured the approximate number of inches of the entire sports section each day, including the photos but not including the ads, or classifieds. We also counted the number of articles in the sports section and noted reference to athletics, if any, on the front page of the paper.
Not one single day contained a full-length article in the paper regarding women’s sports and/ or female athletes. The only items involving female athletes, other than simple stats, were very small news briefs, most under 200 words. The newspaper ran stories on possible recruits for the University of Pittsburgh men’s teams, but nothing was written about the many women’s Panther teams.
There were also no pictures at all of women athletes throughout the entire ten days. Regrettably, the only females to merit a photo were a female horse and an actress, Jennifer Lopez.
To help give a better understanding of how astonishing the results were, we calculated that there were a little less than 15,000 inches of sports coverage for ten days. Of that, not even 200 inches belonged to women. An average of 1.14% of the sports section for ten days was dedicated to women. Furthermore, there was not one instance of front-page coverage of women’s athletics in the Post-Gazette.
It is important to have women’s sports recognized in the Post-Gazette. Young women look up to female athletes as strong, competitive role models. Seeing nothing in the paper sends a clear message that they should give up their dreams because the only sports that matter are for men, by men.
Moreover, existing women’s sports suffer, too. They need the publicity to grow and develop, attract fans, raise money and provide opportunities for women to succeed in the sport. How can they do so if no one knows about them? It would benefit the paper to attract additional women readers who care about women’s sports.
Right now, the Post-Gazette’s front-page claim to be “One of America’s Great Newspapers” is just not true when it comes to women’s athletics.