Trends in newspaper coverage of women sports in Kenya between 2010 and 2012
Kitula, Sammy I M
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The sports industry in Kenya is currently experiencing growth and development. For example, many companies are increasingly paying millions of shillings in sponsorship to sporting events. On September 6, 2012, East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) sealed a three-year sponsorship with Kenyan Premier League worth Sh170million. The last time the league 'had a major sponsor was between 1998 and 2002, when Kenya Breweries, BAT and Smithkline Beecham put in a combined Sh45million package a year, for five years. (Charles Nyende. 'EABL brew Sh170m KPL deal' Daily Nation 7 Sept 2012: 71. Print.) Some of the events such as the Safari com Safari Sevens and Rhino Charge have spawned huge public following and in effect, become recognizable brands. Concomitant with this is the importance of the sports sections in newspapers, where the rule of thumb has been that beefed up sports coverage increases readership. Notwithstanding the above success, reporting on women sports has continued to elicit different reactions. The media plays an influential role in creating images of both women and men. Sports coverage in the media has in many ways been dominated by the coverage of men's rather than women's participation, which can be mirrored in the traditional public perception that men are active and athletic, and women, by exclusion, are not. But with the continuous participation of women in different sporting disciplines, this has helped shape the reporting of women sports in Kenya. This study, therefore, seeks to examine the extent to which Kenyan sports writers treat sports stories involving women in their reportage. The study also sets out to establish how female athletes are treated and if the practice of portraying women athletes as the objects of humuor continues to exist. A survey was carried out on sports writers of five major dailies in the country working in Nairobi and on the sports editors of their respective newspapers. The results of this project show a hegemonic structure of Kenyan newsrooms that are focused on males and men's activities. The respective sports departments are also employing few women and including little coverage of women. At the time of this research, only The Standard had a woman sports writer in all daily newspapers in Kenya. This is, despite increased sports participation by girls and women since Title IX, the 1974 federal law guaranteeing equal sports opportunities for males and females in publicly funded schools. Implications, recommendations and direction for further research are also discussed.