ESPN sports reporter Erin Andrews has been making the headlines in the United States in the past week, after she was video’d when naked and someone posted the footage on the internet.
A full-scale investigation has been launched by Andrews, ESPN and her lawyers, to discover who it was who invaded her privacy. After rival broadcasters CBS opted to air a clip from the video – which has now been removed from most websites under threat of legal action – the “video voyeurism” affair has prompted a debate in the US over the role of women sports journalists.
Describing the videoing as a form of sexual assault, Maggie Hendricks, blogging for Yahoo, wrote: “Now that Andrews is a victim of this crime, why would a woman want to follow her on camera? That’s not the sort of thing that ESPN co-workers Chris Berman or Stuart Scott have to worry about.”
Fair point, though the “sex appeal” of male TV presenters has indeed been used to broaden the draw of the sports events that they are covering to a female audience – wasn’t Des Lynam “burdened” with the “Dishy Des” nickname throughout his BBC career (though he seemed to cope)?
Hendricks extends her argument: “It’s crazy how much Andrews, and all female sports journo-types, get judged for what they look like, what they wear, even the food they eat, rather than simply the work they do.”
They do? Isn’t the appearance argument somewhat double edged?
Certainly, the BleacherReport thinks so:
“99% of the female sideline reporters are hired because they are eye candy and nothing else. You don’t have to know anything about sports but if you were in a beauty pageant, you just might get hired.
“Why should fans respect these women as journalists? Are they great at their jobs? Do they have great knowledge of sports and provide in-depth analysis? We all know the answer to that…”
The author may have had it in mind that last year, Andrews was named by Playboy Magazine as “the sexiest sportscaster in the land”.
British TV is, thankfully, much better than its American counterpart in so many respects, and leading women sports presenters, including Clare Balding, Suzy Perry and Hazel Irvine, are respected for their work, first and foremost. Viewers still suffer bland and vacuous presentation work from males, as well as females. We will leave you to come up with a list of your least favourites.
The BleacherReport is a sports blog site with contributions from “fans”, an easily accessible outlet for opinion and comment which might not always abide by the same journalistic disciplines most SJA members are familiar with.
However, this particular columnist, bylined as “D Wizzle”, makes an interesting observation. In this whole affair, no blame has attached to Andrews herself, she does not appear to have behaved in a reprehensible manner. Yet the incident has raised her profile hugely.
Might, Wizzle asks, Andrews or someone close to her have been behind the whole video incident, with an understanding of modern digital media, to give her career an massive injection of notoriety? “A lot of people in America now know who Erin Andrews is thanks to all the media coverage of the videos.” Google search statistics for the past week certainly bear that out.