Depiction of female athletes in the mass media
This study was set out to compare the coverage of male and female athletes in Kenyan newspapers between 1980-2000. It aimed at investigating whether there has been an increase in coverage of female athletes, assess written and photographic coverage of athletes, and study the relationship between the athletes' media coverage and sex. Two newspapers, Daily Nation and East African Standard were purposely selected for the study because they have the highest circulation and therefore best represent the country's newspapers. Based on the two publications 120 newspapers were selected for study from a constructed year of twelve composite weeks. Data was collected from 1724 articles classified as either written or photo articles and measured to find their area in square centimetres. Two trained research assistants were used to measure these articles and the inter-coder reliability between them was 0.82. from this study it was found that male athletes are covered more in written articles than female athletes but female athletes' coverage in photographs has increased more steadily than male coverage from 1980-2000. This was due to the media constructed stereotypic image of female athletes as sexual objects, only good to look at. It was also found that coverage of female athletes increased in volume from 1980-2000. The increase is a reflection of the continually improving status of women in the society. The study therefore recommended balance and fairness in media coverage of athletes, sensitization of sports journalists on coverage of female athletes and inclusion of special courses in sports reporting in the training of journalists. Because the research was based on content analysis of newspapers, further research on the depiction of female athletes in the broadcast media and participatory research including female athletes should be done to find out the holistic media treatment of female athletes.