Gender Dynamics in Producing News on Equality in Sports: A Dual Longitudinal Study of Title IX Reporting by Journalist Gender

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    359
International Journal of Sport Communication, 2011, 4, 359-374
© 2011 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Gender Dynamics in Producing News
on Equality in Sports: A Dual Longitudinal
Study of Title IX Reporting
by Journalist Gender
Kent Kaiser
Northwestern College, USA
This 2-part longitudinal study uses quantitative content analysis of newspapers to
investigate gender dynamics in producing news on equality in sports. It analyzes
differences in Title IX coverage by reporter gender to determine whether female
journalists advocated more aggressively for women’s equality than their male
counterparts did. The study’s first part uses content analysis of volume and place-
ment of articles about Title IX, by journalist gender, and discusses the implications
of how patterns of volume and placement have changed over time. The second
part identifies advocacy and opposition frames used in the conflict over Title
IX; applies content analysis of frames used, by journalist gender; and discusses
implications of reporting differences and changes over time for equality. Evidence
suggests that, first, social control; then a feminist perspective; and, most recently, a
postfeminist worldview among female journalists influenced coverage of the law.
Keywords: journalism, framing, counterframing, conflict framing, social movements
This study uses quantitative content analysis to investigate differences in news-
paper coverage, by journalist gender, of Title IX as it relates to women in sports.
Specifically, the first part of this investigation uses a simple content analysis of
volume and placement of articles about Title IX, by journalist gender; the second part
uses content analysis of frames used in articles about Title IX, by journalist gender.
In the past, media research has yielded mixed findings on reporting and com-
mentary by gender in regard to other topics. The reason for choosing to investigate
reporting and commentary on Title IX is that sports have been called contested terrain
(Messner, 1988), and Title IX is a federal law that has challenged the status quo in
gender relations, especially in the context of sports, which has traditionally been a
male domain, to become “the most visible gender controversy” (Suggs, 2005, p. 2)
of the past 35-plus years. The analysis could help discern the extent to which female
journalists have been given or have seized opportunities to present stories—and at
what level of prominence in the media and with what degree of advocacy—on this
The author is with the Dept. of Communication, Northwestern College, St. Paul, MN.
360 Kaiser
important equality legislation. In turn, it could allow speculation on the extent to
which there are control and male-hegemonic dynamics in newsrooms (Breed, 1954;
de Bruin & Ross, 2004; Strong & Hannis, 2006), feminist inclinations in newsrooms,
or postfeminist predispositions in newsrooms (Chambers, Steiner, & Fleming, 2004;
Starck & Soloski, 1977). This study takes a longitudinal view, whereas others have
basically captured cross-sectional snapshots.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (herein Title IX) states that,
“no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from par-
ticipation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any
education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance” (Education
Amendments of 1972, 2008). Under Title IX, men and women are expected to
receive equal treatment in all areas of public education, including financial aid,
work-study employment, facilities, housing, scholarships, and athletics.
When the Education Amendments of 1972 were debated in Congress, the
focus of the debates was on nonathletic parts of the legislation—indeed, there
appears to have been little, if any, understanding of its implications for athletics.
Shortly after the legislation passed, though, it became clear that if Title IX were
to be applied to athletics, there would have to be adjustments in the allocation of
resources to accommodate gender equality. Conflict erupted across the nation over
the implementation of Title IX and its effects on the education-athletics establish-
ment (“Title IX at 30,” 2002, p. 3C), and there were several attempts in Congress
to exempt college athletics from Title IX (Gelb & Palley, 1996). Indeed, for most of
its history, Title IX has been a subject of conflict—from court battles, to legislative
actions, to administrative reviews (“Title IX at 30,” 2002). This conflict came to
involve two distinct sides that developed opposition and advocacy messages and
attempted to have those messages deployed in the mass media.
Review of the Literature
Past research has looked at a variety of news coverage to investigate whether there
are differences by journalist gender. The findings have been mixed but generally
negative for women in the relatively few studies done on the topic. In terms of the
quantity of coverage, Strong and Hannis (2006) found male bylines to outnumber
female bylines in Australian and New Zealand newspapers by a ratio of nearly 2 to
1. In the early days of television news, if a woman got hired, she often was assigned
to report on only so-called women’s subjects such as the activities of the wives of
public officials, fashion, or dating (Sanders & Rock, 1988). In terms of quality,
style, and substance, Rodgers and Thorson (2003) found that female reporters used
a greater diversity of sources, used fewer stereotypes, and wrote more positive
stories than their male counterparts did. Yet Liebler and Smith (1997) found few
differences in the sources used, and they found that male and female reporters were
not significantly different in their likelihood to use professional titles at unequal
rates for male and female sources. Danilewicz and Desmond (2007) discovered
that female reporters were more likely than their male colleagues to present human-
interest and health-related stories. Moreover, Nelson and Signorielli (2007) found
that in stories about health topics, female reporters were more likely than their male
counterparts to use self-help and empowerment frames.
Gender Dynamics in News on Equality    361
Political reporting is especially relevant to this study because the field of politics
resembles athletics: It is a traditionally male domain that features a competitive
arena with contestants, strategies, and an ultimate event in which winners and
losers are determined. In regard to differences in political reporting by journalist
gender, some researchers found that in reporting on a political campaign featuring
both a male candidate and a female candidate, male reporters gave more space
and prominence to the male candidate, and female reporters gave more space and
prominence to the female candidate (Fico & Freedman, 2004; Freedman & Fico,
2005). The same researchers determined that female reporters, when reporting favor-
ably on the female candidate, structured their stories to favor the female candidate
much more strongly than when writing stories favoring the male candidate; no such
imbalance existed among male reporters. Devitt (1999) found that male reporters
were more likely to report on highly personal aspects of female candidates and
that female reporters were more likely to cover personal aspects of both male and
female candidates; he also found that female reporters were more likely to focus
on female candidates. Heldman, Carroll, and Olson (2005) showed that female
reporters covered presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole more than male reporters
did, and female reporters also covered Dole differently, focusing on her appearance,
lack of substance, or husband, while male reporters talked more frequently about
her campaign’s financial viability.
On the topic of sports media coverage, Chambers et al. (2004) posited that the
representation of sportsmen and -women is “not unconnected to sexual imbalances
in the newsroom” (p. 112). It should be noted that the American Society of News
Editors reported in 2009 that only 37% of full-time daily newspaper personnel were
women; it was reported elsewhere, in 2005, that only 11% of sports department
personnel were women (“Sports Coverage,” 2005).
General sports news coverage is related to Title IX, especially in the extent to
which female sports activities constitute the subject of the coverage. Hardin (2005)
noted that the paucity of women’s sports coverage does not reflect women’s sport-
participation rates. Indeed, Kaiser and Skoglund (2006) found both textual and
photographic coverage of women in sports to be smaller in quantity and lesser in
prominence in the 30 years after the passage of Title IX than it was during the 3
decades before its passage. Although sports media and coverage of Title IX offer
a special opportunity to assert prowoman values, images, and frames, female jour-
nalists often appear to avoid advocating for more coverage of women (Hardin &
Shain, 2006). Specifically, Hardin and Shain (2006) stated, “Once hired, women are
socialized into a newsroom that emphasizes their inferiority in relation to journal-
ism, and into a department that emphasizes their inferiority in relation to sports”
(p. 335), consistent with Breed’s (1954) thesis. Indeed, Pedersen, Whisenant, and
Schneider (2003) found no significant differences between male and female report-
ers in regard to the disparities of coverage between female and male college athletes.
In regard to media coverage of Title IX, Hardin, Simpson, Whiteside, and
Garris (2007) found that stories by female reporters were more likely to appear in
nonsports sections of newspapers, and stories by male reporters were more likely
to appear in the sports pages. They also determined that female reporters were
more likely to use women as sources, and female reporters were more likely to
characterize Title IX as enabling, while male reporters most often referred to Title
IX in prohibitive terms. Hardin and Whiteside (2009) found that both male and
362 Kaiser
female reporters disagreed that their newspapers should include more coverage of
Title IX, although there was a significant difference among men and women, with
women being more likely to agree with that idea.
Missing from the research thus far has been an analysis of differences in Title
IX coverage by reporter gender over the course of the history of the law. There
are two aspects of reporting on Title IX that could be enlightening in this context:
the volume and placement of articles by journalist gender, and differences in how
Title IX is portrayed by journalist gender. Consequently, the research questions to
be investigated here are as follows:
RQ1: How has the volume of articles about Title IX as it relates to women in
sports differed between male and female newspaper journalists, if at all?
RQ2: How has the prominence of placement of articles about Title IX as it
relates to women in sports differed between male and female newspaper
journalists, if at all?
RQ3: How has the portrayal of Title IX as it relates to women in sports differed
between male and female newspaper journalists since the law’s inception?
RQ4: How has the portrayal of Title IX as it relates to women in sports by male
newspaper journalists changed over time?
RQ5: How has the portrayal of Title IX as it relates to women in sports by female
newspaper journalists changed over time?
The corresponding null hypotheses are thus:
H
0
1: There would be no difference between male and female journalists’ coverage
of Title IX as it relates to women in sports, in terms of the volume of
articles.
H
0
2: There would be no difference between male and female journalists’
coverage of Title IX as it relates to women in sports, in terms of their
articles’ prominence of placement.
H
0
3: Male and female newspaper journalists would show equal propensity
to use advocacy and opposition frames in their portrayals of Title IX as
it relates to women in sports.
H
0
4: Male newspaper journalists’ use of advocacy and opposition frames in
their portrayals of Title IX as it relates to women in sports would show
no significant change over time.
H
0
5: Female newspaper journalists’ use of advocacy and opposition frames in
their portrayals of Title IX as it relates to women in sports would show
no significant change over time.
Method
For this study, newspapers were chosen for analysis because they are often used
as the basis for stories in other media and they provide more well-developed
frames than other media. The specific newspapers included in this study are The
Washington Post, because there is evidence to suggest it is influential with federal
Gender Dynamics in News on Equality    363
policymakers (Hess, 1984); The New York Times, because of its agenda-setting role
in the news media (Dearing & Rogers, 1996); and the Chicago Tribune, because
of its non–East Coast perspective.
The Lexis-Nexis major newspaper database was used to identify relevant
articles from these three newspapers. Articles from only news, sports, and com-
mentary sections were retrieved. It should be noted that I included commentary
in addition to news, consistent with a similar study by Pedersen et al. (2003), but
unlike one by Hardin et al. (2007), because I believed that doing so allowed a more
complete analysis of the entire media diet that would be available to consumers.
Thus far, the process yielded a data set of 1,975 articles. The number of articles
in the data set was narrowed by disregarding ostensibly less influential
articles containing 250 words or fewer. At this point, the data set included 1,607
articles dating from May 12, 1974, through December 14, 2007: 560 articles from
The Washington Post, 474 from The New York Times, and 573 from the Chicago
Tribune.
Each newspaper article was coded by several objective categories, including
newspaper of appearance, date, section (news, sports, editorial, or sports commen-
tary), and, most important for this study, journalist gender (male journalist, female
journalist, dual authorship, or no author listed) and prominence (front page of the
newspaper, other page in the nonsports sections of the newspaper, front page of
the sports section, other page of the sports section). It should be noted that for the
purposes of this study, the appearance of an article on the front page of a newspaper
is considered more prominent than placement on other nonsports pages; similarly,
the appearance of an article on the front page of a newspaper’s sports section is
considered more prominent than placement on other sports pages.
Each article was also coded by the more subjective criteria of centrality of
Title IX: central (the article was basically about Title IX), important (the article was
not specifically about Title IX, but Title IX figured heavily in the article), or just
mentioned. In addition, each article was coded for frames related to Title IX. It was
through quantitative content analysis of frames that “portrayal” was determined.
The identification of mass-media frames was guided by Entman (1993), Rosenthal
(2008), and Scheufele (1999); as such, codeable frames were determined by a close
reading of texts and through application of frames identified in a pilot study and
in studies by other researchers (e.g., Rosenthal, 2008). The frames coded can be
summarized as advocacy frames (i.e., equality, personal opportunity, mandate, and
scapegoat), opposition frames (i.e., autonomy, market, zero-sum, and quota), and
neutral frame. A single article—the unit of analysis—could have more than one
frame; indeed, more than one frame was common because many articles presented
the topic as a conflict or debate.
The frame-classification scheme is summarized as follows, with examples.
Advocacy Frames
The equality frame takes a macro-level fairness perspective asserting that Title
IX is about overall equality of the sexes. It is characterized by quotations such as
the following: “Things won’t truly be equal until girls get the same opportunity
as boys do. Title IX . . . has opened doors for girls and women in high school and
college” (King, 1998, p. 1).
364 Kaiser
The personal-opportunity frame takes a micro-level fairness perspective to
assert that Title IX is about providing equal opportunities for individual sports-
women and teams. For example, “I was never told I could play a sport growing
up. Title IX opened the door for collegiate sports—I got a soccer scholarship”
(Stein, 2001, p.3).
The mandate frame comes from a management perspective to assert that Title
IX is the law of the land and its implementation should be enforced and effected
without delay. It is characterized by quotations such as the following: “Nearly three
decades after Title IX mandated equal opportunity for girls in sports, the variety
of sports available has led to girls demanding more chances to play, even in sports
traditionally reserved for boys” (Mellen, 2000, p. 1).
The scapegoat frame comes from a management perspective and says the
notion that Title IX is to blame for having fewer opportunities for male athletes is
a scapegoat for poor management of resources. It is exemplified in the following:
“If you’re asking do we produce revenue, the answer is yes. . . . Do we cover all our
expenses? No. But have you asked those same questions of swimming, of men’s
track?” (Araton, 2003, p. D3).
Opposition Frames
The autonomy frame comes from a management perspective and asserts that
institutions should be left alone to figure out how to implement Title IX, on their
own time table and without government coercion. It is exemplified in the following
quotation: “The [Supreme Court’s Grove City] decision resulted from Grove City
College’s refusal to sign a routine Title IX nondiscrimination compliance form.
The college considered that to be unnecessary government intrusion into the affairs
of a private institution” (James, 1988, p. A27).
The market frame comes from a management perspective and asserts that if
there were a demand for women’s sports, then teams would be established and there
would be funding for those teams, without government intervention. The following
quotation exemplifies it: “If Title IX is enforced, we will have to share some of our
money with the girls’ athletic program” (Sabock, 1975, p. 216).
The zero-sum frame comes from a micro-level fairness perspective and asserts
that if opportunities are created for individual sportswomen and women’s teams
under Title IX, then a similar number of opportunities for individual sportsmen
and men’s teams would have to be eliminated. It is characterized by quotations
such as this: “We have the only state legislature in the country that chose not to
fund women’s sports when Title IX was instituted, so we had to drop [men’s]
swimming and baseball to add women’s programs in 1980” (Brennan, 1989,
p. D1).
The quota frame comes from a macro-level fairness perspective and asserts
that Title IX is about achieving overall numerical parity between men and
women, as it relates to sports, regardless of other factors. The following quota-
tion illustrates this frame: “[Title IX] has become an affirmative action program,
employed not merely to open opportunities but to engineer statistical outcomes”
(Will, 1997, p. C07).
Gender Dynamics in News on Equality    365
Neutral Frame
This frame is characterized by no discernible bias or theme in a mention of Title
IX. Indeed, it could be said that it is not actually a frame at all; it is characterized
by the absence of a frame.
It should be noted that the equality frame mirrors the discursive “feminist”
frame identified by Rosenthal (2008), the zero-sum and personal-opportunity frames
mirror her discursive frames by the same names, and the quota frame mirrors her
“conservative right” frame.
A standard process and commonly accepted procedures were used to check
the reliability of the coding scheme. Two coders were recruited for this proce-
dure. Straight percentages and Scott’s π (Scott, 1955) were used to measure the
intercoder reliability of the subjective judgment codings (e.g., centrality, frame).
In all cases, the agreement percentages ranged from 80% to 92%, and the Scott’s
π reliability coefficients ranged from .75 to .78, well within acceptable ranges
(Scott, 1955). Consequently, this study’s coding scheme could be applied with
confidence by other researchers to yield substantially the same findings and
conclusions.
Four Eras
To analyze the data set for changes in content by journalist gender over time, four
“eras” for analysis were delineated and named, based on important moments in
the legal and legislative history of Title IX (Foundation IX, 2007; Women’s Sports
Foundation, 2008).
1974–1976, Tower Era.
There was a significant turning point in the history of
Title IX shortly after the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare issued
regulations on the law in 1975 and during the subsequent Congressional hearings
that took place in 1976. Because this part of Title IX’s legal and legislative history
was dominated by the proposal of amendments by Senator John Tower, this time
frame will be called the Tower Era.
1977–1989, Grove City and Restoration Era.
This period extending through the
1980s included the first major court case about Title IX, Grove City College v.
Bell, which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1984 and which eviscerated
Title IX. This time frame also encompassed the immediate aftermath of the Grove
City College v. Bell decision and the subsequent legislative effort effectively to
undo the decision—what ultimately was enacted as the Civil Rights Restoration
Act of 1988. Therefore, 1977–1989 will be called the Grove City and Restoration
Era.
1990–2001, Cohen Era.
The period of 1990–2001 included several Congressional
hearings devoted specifically to Title IX and women’s participation and experiences
in intercollegiate and amateur sports. Most important, though, was that this period
saw a series of court cases that affirmed Title IX, known popularly as Brown v.
Cohen; therefore, this period will be called the Cohen Era.
366 Kaiser
2002–2007, Paige Era.
Other researchers (e.g., Rosenthal, 2008; Yiamouyiannis,
2003) have noted the importance of the specific period of 2002–2007 in the history
of Title IX. It included, in anticipation of promulgating a rules clarification on how
to comply with Title IX, hearings overseen by Secretary of Education Roderick
Paige. Because the hearings were a prominent feature in this period, it will be
called the Paige Era.
Part 1 Content Analysis
Full Data Set
Of the 1,607 articles in the data set, none with bylines had indeterminable journal-
ist gender. However, 106 contained no byline by which to determine authorship
or journalist gender, and 22 were contributed by dual male-and-female journalist
teams. Therefore, the data set analyzed in Part 1 of this study ultimately consisted
of 1,479 articles, broken down by era and journalist gender in Table 1. It is worth
noting that only in the Tower Era did the number of contributions made by female
journalists equal those made by males.
Table 2 breaks down the data set by journalist gender and prominence of article
placement (i.e., front page of the newspaper, other nonsports page, front page of
the sports section, or other sports page). Overall, the volume of non-sports-section
articles by male journalists and female journalists was nearly equal (n = 305, n
= 298, respectively). In addition, there was no statistically significant difference
between male and female journalists, in terms of the distribution of articles between
Table 1 Number of Articles by Era and by
Journalist Gender (N = 1,479)
Journalist
Era Male Female
Tower (1974–1976) 51 51
Grove City/Restoration (1977–1989) 201 112
Cohen (1990–2001) 431 244
Paige (2002–2007) 237 152
Total 920 559
Table 2 Number of Articles by Prominence and
by Journalist Gender (N = 1,479)
Journalist
Prominence in newspaper Male Female
Front page of newspaper 75 74
Other nonsports page 230 224
Front of sports section 170 96
Other sports page 445 165
Total 920 559
Gender Dynamics in News on Equality    367
the front page of the newspapers (most prominent position) and the other nonsports
pages of the newspapers (less prominent position); indeed, the distribution was
nearly identical, χ
2
(1, N = 603) = 0.005, p = .945.
Although the volume of sports-section articles contributed by male journalists
(n = 615) was much greater than the volume contributed by female journalists (n =
261), the likelihood of a female journalist’s article appearing on the front page of
the sports section (the most prominent sports-section position) was greater (37%
of sports section articles contributed by female journalists appeared on the front
page of the sports section, compared with 28% of articles contributed by male
journalists). This constituted a statistically significant difference in distribution,
χ
2
(1, N = 876) = 7.24, p = .007.
Data by Era
The data set of 1,479 articles was further broken down by era and again by promi-
nence, shown in Table 3. It is worth noting that in the Tower Era (1974–1976), the
number of sports-section articles by female journalists was greater than the number
Table 3 Articles by Era, Journalist Gender, and Prominence (N = 1,479)
Journalist
Male Female
Tower Era (1974–1976)
Front page of newspaper 3 2
Other nonsports page 16 14
Front of sports section 11 16
Other sports page 21 19
subtotal 51 51
Grove City/Restoration Era (1977–1989)
Front page of newspaper 13 13
Other nonsports page 79 60
Front of sports section 33 11
Other sports page 76 28
subtotal 201 112
Cohen Era (1990–2001)
Front page of newspaper 37 38
Other nonsports page 79 92
Front of sports section 71 30
Other sports page 244 84
subtotal 431 244
Paige Era (2002–2007)
Front page of newspaper 22 21
Other nonsports page 56 58
Front of sports section 55 39
Other sports page 104 34
subtotal 237 152
Total 920 559
368 Kaiser
by male journalists (n = 35, n = 32, respectively). Moreover, front-of-sports-section
articles by female journalists outnumbered those by male journalists (n = 16, n
= 11, respectively), and sports-section articles by female journalists were more
likely (46%) to appear on the front page of the sports section than articles by male
journalists were (34%), though the difference was not statistically significant, χ
2
(1,
N = 67) = 0.893, p = .345.
In the Grove City/Restoration (1977–1989), Cohen (1990–2001), and Paige
(2002–2007) Eras, the number of sports-section articles overall and the number of
front-of-sports-section articles by male journalists far outnumbered those by female
journalists. That said, the distribution patterns of front-of-sports-section articles
to other-sports-section articles was statistically significantly similar for male and
female journalists in the Grove City/Restoration Era (1977–1989), χ
2
(1, N = 148)
= 0.006, p = .808, and in the Cohen Era, χ
2
(1, N = 429) = 0.663, p = .415. In the
Paige Era (2002–2007), however, there was a statistically significant difference in
the distribution pattern of front-of-sports-section articles to other-sports-section
articles for male journalists and journalists, χ
2
(1, N = 232) = 0.7.36, p = .007, with
53% of sports-section articles by women appearing on the front page of the sports
section, compared with only 35% of sports-section articles by men.
Part 1 Discussion
The first null hypothesis—that there would be no difference between male and
female newspaper journalists’ coverage of Title IX as it relates to women in sports,
in terms of volume of articles—was disconfirmed overall. However, the hypothesis
was confirmed for the Tower Era (1974–1976). It might have been that female
journalists more frequently were assigned, were allowed, or chose to write stories
about Title IX because it was viewed as much as a women’s topic as a sports topic,
consistent with what Sanders and Rock (1988) asserted. Yet it might also be that,
in this period, relatively early in the women’s liberation movement, female jour-
nalists succumbed to social control, consistent with what Breed (1954) and others
suggested, adapting to the male-hegemonic dynamics of newsrooms (de Bruin &
Ross, 2004; Strong & Hannis, 2006). If so, then one might expect their articles to
be nonthreatening to the traditionally male sports establishment. It might also be
the case that, regardless of the content of the female journalists’ articles, Title IX
was not yet recognized as a real threat to male hegemony in this domain. Discus-
sion of some of the other hypotheses will consider this possibility.
H
0
1 was also confirmed, in part, in the Grove City/Restoration Era (1977–1989),
in the Cohen Era (1990–2001), and in the Paige Era (2002–2007) in regard to non-
sports-section articles but disconfirmed in regard to sports-section articles. This
is consistent with the idea of sports pages being a male domain (Hardin & Shain,
2005). During the Grove City/Restoration Era (1977–1989) and the Cohen Era
(1990–2001), it might have been that female journalists embraced a feminist predis-
position to advocate for women, as Starck and Soloski (1977) and Chambers et al.
(2004) suggested. It is noteworthy that during these eras, the total number of articles
by male journalists outnumbered the articles by female journalists; this would be
consistent with the idea that Title IX was discovered as a threat to male hegemony
in sports and therefore elicited backlash (Faludi, 1991) from male journalists who
wanted to set the agenda on the topic, rather than allow their female colleagues
Gender Dynamics in News on Equality    369
potentially to assert a feminist agenda. The volume of articles by male journalists
during the Paige Era was again greater than the volume by female journalists,
indicating ongoing male attempts to drive the agenda; yet there is also evidence to
suggest that by this time, female journalists might have been taking a postfeminist
stance, which will be considered in the discussion of some of the other hypotheses.
The overall greater volume of articles about Title IX by male journalists not-
withstanding, it does seem as if female journalists were assigned, were allowed,
or chose to cover Title IX disproportionately, considering the actual numbers of
female journalists and female sports journalists in the business. Again, it might be
that Title IX was viewed as a women’s topic.
As for the second null hypothesis—that there would be no difference between
the prominence of male and female newspaper journalists’ coverage of Title IX and
women in sports—it was confirmed for non-sports-section articles but disconfirmed
for sports-section articles, with articles by female journalists being proportionately
more likely to appear on the front page of the newspapers’ sports sections. Male
sports-page journalists wrote about Title IX much more than their female colleagues,
but that writing was printed disproportionately less prominently. It would appear
that article-placement decision makers, especially in the most recent years, had
a tendency to push female journalists’ articles into more prominent places and to
push male journalists’ articles to less prominent places. This idea is bolstered by
the extent to which H
0
2 was disconfirmed for the Paige Era (2002–2007), with a
much higher likelihood of female journalists’ articles to appear in prominent posi-
tions. Even so, in regard especially to the Paige Era (2002–2007), as mentioned
earlier it might be the case that female journalists adopted a postfeminist view of
Title IX, consistent with what Coppock, Haydon, and Richter (1995) described—
indeed repudiating feminism (McRobbie, 2004). This idea is supported implicitly
by Hardin and Shain’s (2006) finding that younger female sports journalists are less
likely to advocate for women’s sports, if younger women are more likely to hold
postfeminist views, as Chambers et al. (2004) suggested. This, then, might have
made female journalists’ more recent articles more palatable to a male-hegemonic
newsroom culture and, therefore, more acceptable in more prominent positions in
the newspapers.
Part 2 Content Analysis
Of the 1,607 articles in the data set, articles that just mentioned Title IX made up
over half of the total (52%, n = 841), and, after initial analysis, these articles were
found to constitute a confounding variable because of their large number and con-
sequent power to skew findings toward the frames they featured. Therefore, they
were discarded from the data set analyzed in Part 2 of this study. Of the remaining
“Title IX central” and “Title IX important” data set (n = 766), 13 articles were neu-
trally framed, contained no discernable advocacy or opposition frames, and were
therefore of no use in this part of the study; consequently, they were discarded. Of
the 753 articles remaining in the data set, none with bylines had indeterminable
author gender, but 80 contained no byline by which to determine authorship or
author gender, and 14 were contributed by dual male-and-female author teams;
these, therefore, were discarded. Consequently, the data set analyzed in this part
of the study ultimately consisted of 659 articles.
370 Kaiser
Contained in the 659 articles, coders identified 578 advocacy frames and 260
opposition frames. Table 4 shows the distribution of the 838 frames by era and by
journalist gender. It is worth noting that only in the Tower Era did the number of
frames used by female journalists outnumber those used by men, which is consis-
tent with the volume of their contributions published. It is also worth noting that
advocacy frames were consistently more prevalent in all eras and in articles by
both female and male journalists.
Regarding the analysis of the full data set, overall there was a significant
difference between male and female newspaper journalists’ proportional use of
advocacy and opposition frames, χ
2
(1, N = 659) = 19.5, p < .01. Looking at the
data era by era is more interesting. During the Tower Era, there was no significant
difference between male and female journalists in terms of their proportional use
of advocacy and opposition frames, χ
2
(1, N = 81) = 0.58, p = .45. By contrast, there
were significant differences in the Grove City/Restoration Era, χ
2
(1, N = 155) =
10.2, p < .01, and in the Cohen Era, χ
2
(1, N = 259) = 14.9, p < .01, with female
journalists showing a proportionately greater propensity than their male counterparts
to employ advocacy frames and not to employ opposition frames. The Paige Era
again saw no significant difference, χ
2
(1, N = 164) = 1.97, p = .16.
Looking from one era to the next for male journalists, in terms of the proportion
of advocacy versus opposition frames employed, there is no significant difference
between any two adjacent eras or among any combination of eras. By contrast,
looking from one era to the next for female journalists, in terms of the proportion
of advocacy versus opposition frames employed, there is a significant difference
between the Tower Era and the Grove City/Restoration Era, χ
2
(1, N = 99) = 9.09, p
< .01, with the journalists showing greater propensity to use advocacy frames and
not to use opposition frames. There is no significant difference between the Grove
City/Restoration Era and the Cohen Era, χ
2
(1, N = 146) = 0.56, p = .46; in other
words, female journalists maintained, statistically, the same proportion of advocacy
and opposition frames between these two eras. By contrast, there is a significant
Table 4 Distribution of Advocacy and Opposition Frames by Era
and by Journalist Gender (n = 659)
Journalist
Era/Type of frame Male Female
Tower (pre-1977)/Advocacy 27 39
Tower/Opposition 24 26
Grove City and Restoration (1977–1989)/Advocacy 85 56
Grove City and Restoration/Opposition 53 11
Cohen (1990–2001)/Advocacy 138 92
Cohen/Opposition 67 13
Paige (2002–2007)/Advocacy 84 57
Paige/Opposition 46 20
total advocacy 334 244
total opposition 190 70
Grand total 524 314
Gender Dynamics in News on Equality    371
difference between the Cohen Era and the Paige Era, χ
2
(1, N = 158) = 5.53, p =
.02, with female journalists becoming, once again, proportionately less likely to
employ advocacy frames and more likely to employ opposition frames in the Paige
Era. In fact, there is no significant difference in female journalists’ use of advocacy
and opposition frames between the Tower Era and the Paige Era, χ
2
(1, N = 111)
= 3.17, p = .08; in other words, statistically, female journalists’ propensity to use
advocacy versus opposition frames after 2002 returned to levels seen before 1977.
Even so, it should be noted that although there is a significant difference between
the Tower Era and the Cohen Era, χ
2
(1, N = 131) = 17.3, p < .01, consistent with
the Cohen Era’s statistical similarity to the Grove City/Restoration Era, there is no
significant difference between the Grove City/Restoration Era and the Paige Era,
χ
2
(1, N = 126) = 1.94, p = .16.
Part 2 Discussion
The third null hypothesis—that male and female newspaper journalists would show
equal propensity to use advocacy and opposition frames in their portrayals of Title
IX as it relates to women in sports—was disconfirmed overall, but the hypothesis
held for two of the four individual eras in the history of Title IX established here,
the Tower Era (1974–76) and the Paige Era (2002–2007). In regard to the Tower
Era (1974–1976), the evidence from this second part of the study lends support
for the discussion in Part 1 that relatively early in the women’s liberation move-
ment, female journalists might have succumbed to social control to fit into the
male-hegemonic dynamics of newsrooms (Breed, 1954; de Bruin & Ross, 2004;
Strong & Hannis, 2006). Again, this might be an indication that Title IX was not
yet recognized as a threat to male hegemony in the sports establishment. It might
also reflect the nonthreatening nature of the female journalists’ content, which was
statistically similar to their male counterparts’ writing in terms of promulgating
Title IX advocacy and opposition frames. During the Grove City/Restoration Era
(1977–1984) and the Cohen Era (1990–2001), there was a significant difference in
male and female journalists’ use of advocacy and opposition frames, with female
journalists using a greater proportion of advocacy frames. This lends support to
the idea mentioned in the discussion of Part 1 that, during these eras, it might be
that female journalists embraced a feminist predisposition to advocate for women.
Thus, although given a smaller platform from which to advocate for women, female
journalists nevertheless seized the opportunity to do so proportionately more often
in these two eras than in the Tower Era (1974–76). The Paige Era (2002–2007) and
female journalists’ return to Tower Era levels of Title IX advocacy and opposition
framing will be considered in the discussion of H
0
5.
Regarding the fourth null hypothesis—that male newspaper journalists’ use
of advocacy and opposition frames in their portrayals of Title IX as it relates to
women in sports would show no significant change over time—it was confirmed.
The fifth null hypothesis—that female newspaper journalists’ use of advocacy
and opposition frames in their portrayals of Title IX as it relates to women in sports
would show no significant change over time—was disconfirmed. Female journalists
used significantly more advocacy themes in proportion to opposition themes during
the middle eras examined, although they seemed to have pulled back, proportion-
ately, from their use of advocacy frames in the latest era examined. This pullback is
372 Kaiser
consistent with the idea, floated in the discussion of Part 1, that female journalists
might have been taking a postfeminist stance in presenting news and commentary on
Title IX. This is not to suggest that female journalists consciously took a postfeminist
stance but that their writing is consistent with an underlying postfeminist worldview.
Conclusion
Qualitative interviews with female journalists, male journalists, and content-
placement decision-makers could provide insight into the issues investigated here.
It would be especially interesting to examine dynamics surrounding the relatively
more prominent placement of female journalists’ articles about Title IX. Similarly,
it would be interesting to learn whether there was tension between article-place-
ment decision makers and male journalists whose articles about Title IX were not
appearing proportionately as often in the most prominent parts of the newspapers
as might have been expected, based on the proportion of male journalists to female
journalists. It could also provide insight into the degree of autonomy felt by female
journalists to use advocacy frames and into the pullback in the use of advocacy
frames in the most recent era analyzed. This triangulation could not only provide
a more complete picture of newsroom dynamics but also confirm or disconfirm the
assertions made in the discussion sections of this study.
In summary, this study seems to present both good news and bad news for
equality, in terms of the volume and prominence of placement of articles about Title
IX. On the one hand, it is bad news that there are not as many articles about Title
IX by female journalists as there are by male journalists, which is consistent with
there being fewer female journalists than male journalists and even fewer female
sports journalists than male sports journalists. On the other hand, it is good news
that female journalists have been presented with opportunities to write about Title
IX and, by association, about women and girls in the counterstereotypical role of
athlete. The duality of Title IX, being at once a women’s topic and a sports topic,
might have opened a door, albeit more or less a back door, for female journalists to
access the sports pages of their newspapers or to make inroads into sports-related
topics, even if in the nonsports sections of their newspapers. They have also been
presented a sports context in which their work has appeared disproportionately
more voluminously and more prominently than would be expected, based on their
comparative numbers in the field. It would appear, also, that female journalists have
felt confident in promulgating and using advocacy frames more often than their
male counterparts. Altogether, the history of the coverage of Title IX, by journal-
ist gender, provides an interesting, substantial case study with which to observe
conflict framing and transformation.
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