Daily Telegraph sportswriters deserve Horse’s Ass of the Year Award

horses-ass-award-aviation-prI’m not a big sports fan. I’d be hard pressed to name Australia’s top 10 sports people – male or female. I am, however, a very big fan of fairness, a commitment to equality, professionalism and good judgment – all qualities sorely lacking in the two bozos from the Daily Telegraph who thought it was oh so funny to name cricketer, Michael Clarke, Sportsman of the Year and Black Caviar – a racehorse – Sportswoman of the Year.

Phil Rothfield and Darren Hadland are the two sexist oafs who conceived of the idea but one also has to ask, “Where were the gatekeepers?”  Did no-one at the Daily Telegraph read this piece of neanderthal nonsense and think, “Hmmm, maybe that’s a really bad idea?”

In my recent article for the King’s Tribune I reveal that women are extremely poorly represented on the front pages of Australia’s leading newspapers. Drawing on research by media expert, Dr Louise North, of Monash University, I suggest that the blokey culture of Australian (and international) news rooms is a major obstacle to female journalists’ professional success. In turn, the lack of senior female reporters and editors means that newspaper reporting is often skewed to favour masculine perspectives – and not always in a good way.

The Daily Telegraph was one of the newspapers I studied over 10 business days. The results weren’t good.  In 10 weekday issues of the Tele not one front page story was written by a female journalist. Further, seventy-eight per cent of the Daily Telegraph’s front page stories focused on male protagonists. On my ‘blokeyness index’ which took into account six key categories:

The Sydney Morning Herald achieved the highest score for ‘blokeyness’ with an average ‘male representation’ score of 82 per cent based on the six key indicators (see table). But it was a close race, with the Daily Telegraph scoring a whopping 80 per cent on the blokeyness barometer.

It’s very hard not to see this latest stunt as a symptom of the Tele’s blokey culture and apparent lack of female gatekeepers.

In an interview with the Women’s Weekly in July, Telegraph editor, Paul Whittaker, insisted that his paper was not failing its women readers. I’m sorry, Mr Whittaker but I beg to differ.

The idea that it’s okay to name a horse as Sportswoman of the Year is a prime example of a masculine perspective which is completely out of touch with contemporary values. It is particularly irksome considering the high profile public debate we have recently had about misogyny. Frankly, it is so gobsmackingly stupid it’s almost hard to believe.

And you don’t have to be a militant, hairy arm-pitted, bra-burning feminist to be offended by this schoolboy stunt. I mentioned it to two delightful 88 year old ladies this afternoon. They gasped in disbelief when I told them the story and, when I assured them it was true, they launched into a spirited tirade which included the words ‘outrageous’, ‘demeaning’ and ‘disgusting’. One of the octogenarians, my mother, shook her head and said, “The bastards!”

With newspaper readership on the wane, newspapers are increasingly aware that they need to capture the female demographic. This is not the way to do it, Mr Whittaker.  The Daily Telegraph was the second worst of the eight newspapers I studied for my King’s Tribune article – all of which scored badly on the ‘blokeyness index’. Naming a horse as Sportswoman of the Year takes your newspaper to a new nadir.

In my view, the two ‘so-called’ journalists who conceived of this drivel should be stood down and so should the editors who let  it go to print. Here’s a novel idea – why not fill the vacancies with women?

Chrys Stevenson

Related Articles:

The Blokeyness Index: blokes win the gender war in Australia’s 4th Estate – Chrys Stevenson, King’s Tribune

Sportswoman of the Year? Really? – Wendy Harmer, The Hoopla

11 thoughts on “Daily Telegraph sportswriters deserve Horse’s Ass of the Year Award

  1. TheBabelFish

    Hi Chrys! Just a quick comment before attempting to sleep in the suffocating heat. I won’t get too far into the gender politics, I’ve written at length about that recently (did you see that by the way?), but I do agree it’s a spectacularly stupid ‘joke’ to make. I’ll just add this: You said up front you weren’t a sport person, and fair enough. I am. I like it. Grew up on it. So I’m going to give a sporting opinion, which may strike some as controversial. I do hope so.

    Michael Clarke. Hmm. Team sports are tricky. Is he really having a stellar year, or are the rest of the team just making him look good with their ineptitude? I am, for my sins, a St. Kilda supporter and I’ve been around long enough to remember the sheer dominance of Tony Lockett, kicking 10 or 11 goals every week. In a losing side. Sure, Clarke has racked up some impressive stats, but he’s the captain, and Australia just won its first test for 8 months, so how good a job can he really be doing? Also cricket, although I have learned to appreciate it since coming to Australia, is only played by a handful of ex-English colonies, so how big a talent pool is it really choosing from?

    In Scotland we didn’t play cricket, it was rejected disdainfully as a rather soft, silly and pointless English game. But no matter, my point is that this was an Olympic year. At the Olympic Games we measure individuals in disciplines that are participated in by the entire world. Now, in two years there will be a referendum on Scottish independence, so this could be the last games for Team GB. Australian fans expected to beat Team GB, but they didn’t come close, in fact they were edged out by the entirely notional Team Scotland (some of us were keeping track), and only just managed to beat New Zealand. As a consequence Australians have put the whole thing out of their minds.

    That’s a shame, because it is there you will find your sportsPERSON of the year. No question. Daylight second. Sally Pearson. Not just because she’s our only track gold medalist (maybe our only track madalist of any colour, not sure). Because of her totally dominant season. She lost one race all season, and she was injured in that one. Of course most of this took place in Europe, against the toughest competition in the world, but we don’t get to see much athletics in Australia. Maybe because usually we’re not particularly good at it.

    In Scotland we’d have a trickier time choosing an overall winner for 2012, and as it happens it would be between two blokes, Andy Murray (Olympic gold AND US Open) and Chris Hoy (four Olympics, and a pile of medals), but for Australia, in 2012, it has to be Sally, hands down.

  2. petrum

    What else would you expect from the Telegraph? Surely not balanced reporting and thoughtful analysis!

  3. Jim McDonald

    Some real contenders for Sportswoman of the Year, you ignorant, mysogenistic morons:

    Sally Pearson, Track & Field, 1 of only 21 gold medals won by Australia in athletics (13 of those by women) in the history of the Olympics
    Anna Mears, Cycling
    The Australian Diamonds, Netball
    The Matildas, Soccer
    Jacqueline Freney, Paralympics swimming [8 Gold medals]
    Maddison Elliott, 13 yrs old, Paralympics swimming, 1 gold medal
    Ellie Cole, Paralympics swimming [4 Gold medals, 2 bronze]
    Stephanie Gilmore 5 times world champion, surfing
    Caitlin Bassett, netball
    Kristi Harrower, basketball
    Lauren Jackson, basketball

  4. Vance

    Not only was Black Caviar granted the title of ‘Sportswoman of the Year’, there’s a picture of Sally Pearson directly below that for the ‘Golden Moment’ award. Apparently, she “did the country proud” but didn’t deserve to be considered the country’s best sportswoman. I think, at the very least, these ignorant boofheads owe her a public apology.

  5. Louella

    I’m drawn between exposing this, as you’re doing, to criticism and ridicule, and completely ignoring it. They’ve done it for publicity and that’s what they’re getting.

    As much as I wish everyone would ignore this and not talk about it at all, I’m sure you’re right that calling them for the distasteful stunt that it is, is the right way to go.

  6. Glen Mcbride

    Greetings Chrys We knw nothibg abou sports ________________________________________

  7. Glen Mcbride

    Greetings Chrys from a McDonalds with free wifi in Auckland NZ where our cruise ship has stopped fr the day We know nothing about any form of sports so no response there BUT we do wish you awonderful 2013 aND HOPE YOUR PROBLeMS ARE NOW OVER so celebrate wildly seeyou in midJanuary Warmly and cheerily Glen & Helen


  8. Pingback: The Fifty-Sixth Down Under Feminists Carnival « Zero at the Bone

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