At the beginning of the school year, a student stopped into my office to talk about the upcoming year. She said she had been involved with the KBVR TV program for a while, and was interested in getting into TV for a career.
“That’s great!” I said. “What do you want to do?”
“Well, I’m really interested in sports journalism,” she said. “But I don’t know if I’ll end up doing that, because there aren’t a lot of roles for women in it.”
That stopped me dead in my tracks.
Here was a bright young student who already thought she was out of the running to become a sports reporter someday, simply because she is a woman.
Obviously, I never want her, or any other student, to think that.
This idea that female reporters can only serve as sideline reporters is not only an ancient mindset, but it’s obviously irrelevant in today’s media. As national networks like ESPN and Pac-12 Network have shown, roles like play-by-play announcer, host, or analyst are not just an all-boys club. And local news stations are finally beginning to reach the 21st century and naming women as sports directors and anchors.
There are, of course, some stations, newspapers, and magazines that are stuck in the past, but their days are numbered. The walls are tumbling down.
I never want any journalism student to think less of their career prospects simply because of their gender (or, for that matter, their race or sexual orientation). It simply has nothing to do with your talent and your ability to do your job well.
To illustrate this, we’re bringing some of the top journalists in their field to speak about it.
Next week, the Orange Media Network will host a series of discussions titled “Breaking Barriers in Sports Journalism,” in which sports journalists will speak to students about their experience, background, challenges and triumphs as reporters. Joining us next Monday will be Tammy Blackburn and Krista Blunk, who serve work for Pac-12 Network as an analyst and play-by-play announcer, respectively. Then Wednesday, our speaker will be Kristen Rodgers, sports anchor at KEZI in Eugene (interesting note: Rodgers is the only female sports anchor at a local TV station in all of Oregon).
It’s our chance to inspire students, and tell thickheaded news directors to stop living in the past!
I hope you join us at one or both of those days, as our speakers and students break down the stereotypes and help young people to achieve their dreams in sports media. For more information, head to the Orange Media Network page.