By Tashan Reed
NASHVILLE – Sarah Spain called it “the pivot.”
Many women are forced to conform to the males who outnumber them in newsroom. They’re expected to have thick skin, fit in seamlessly, “be one of the guys” and not ruffle too many feathers.
Spain, who fills various roles for ESPN, noted that it doesn’t necessarily eliminate the chance for progress to be made. “A lot of times you have to play the game, so you can change the game,” she said. “You have to, in order to make your way up and have any agency or voice, prove that you can hang.”
Spain joined Candace Buckner, Diana Nearhos and Lisa Olson on a panel discussion on women in sports journalism at the 2018 APSE Summer Conference on Monday.
Buckner covers the NBA for The Washington Post, Nearhos covers high school sports for the Knoxville News Sentinel and Olson is a contributor to The Athletic.
Bill Eichenberger, an editor at Bleacher Report and former APSE president, was the moderator.
All the of the panelists have faced some form of discrimination or harassment. They used their own personal experiences to enlighten their audience on many of the issues that women have faced for years and continue to navigate.
The primary topics of the session were adjusting to newsrooms as women, the lack of women represented in newsrooms and dealing with harassment.
“It’s still striking to me how few women are in positions of power,” Olson said when asked about the lack of representation of women in newsrooms. “That trickles down to how we cover sports, how we cover social issues, our staffing issues, everything.”
“Our industry has a tendency to hire the established writer,” Nearhos added. She pointed out that most established writers are old, white men, and that only hiring them often excludes women and people of color.
During the conversation about the harassment of female journalists, an excerpt from the 2016 PSA video #MoreThanMean was played. In the video, men read offensive tweets to Spain and Julie DiCaro. Some of the men became emotional or refused to continue reading.
While incidents of sexual assault and harassment are often publicized, cyber-bullying and other forms of harassment such as these often go overlooked.
“The onus has always been falling on us,” Olson said. “We’ve been doing it wrong. The onus is on the players and the teams and other employees.”