Behind The Scenes

ESPN’s female journalists help drive coverage of domestic violence in sports

Earlier this season, (L-R) espnW columnist Jane McManus, ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi, Outside The Lines host Bob Ley and ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian discussed the NFL's approach to its domestic violence issues. (ESPN)
(L-R) espnW columnist Jane McManus, ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi, Outside The Lines host Bob Ley and ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian discussed the NFL’s approach to its domestic violence issues. (ESPN)
Some Important Perspectives

A sampling of the work of a few of ESPN’s prominent female journalists on sports’ domestic violence controversies:

*espnW’s Kate Fagan discussed the ramifications of the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice case

*espnW’s Jane McManus on how the NFL can tackle domestic violence

* Fagan on U.S. Women’s National soccer team star Hope Solo’s playing status and additional perspective; McManus’ interview with one of Solo’s teammates

*Numbers Never Lie’s Jemele Hill gave her thoughts on Rice’s apology

*ESPN The Magazine’s Mina Kimes analyzed the business impact of the Rice case

*Grantland’s Louisa Thomas on the NFL’s history of domestic violence issues

*FiveThirtyEight’s Allison McCann on the NFL’s uneven record regarding policing domestic violence

*espnW’s Sarah Spain offered her opinions on Olbermann

*Anchor Hannah Storm’s editorial on SportsCenter

Over the last few weeks, ESPN has covered the topic of domestic violence in sports, and many of the company’s veteran female journalists — including espnW columnist Jane McManus, Numbers Never Lie host Jemele Hill and SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm — have led the discussion and featured prominently on ESPN’s platforms and shows to offer their perspectives on the issue.

Hill, who hosted the two-hour program espnW Presents: The State of the NFL on ESPN Radio with First Take’s Cari Champion and espnW columnists McManus, Kate Fagan and Sarah Spain, says ESPN’s deep roster of female contributors enabled the network to produce some of the most thoughtful perspectives on the topic across media.

“I was proud that a lot of our female talent became the go-to voices for other major news networks,” said Hill. “It speaks volumes about the talented roster of women that ESPN has built. Whether it’s domestic violence or another issue, we don’t have to scramble to find authoritative female voices because we have that market cornered.

“And best of all, we didn’t need an issue that primarily impacts women to push us to hire more women. We had the market cornered long before the situation with Ray Rice emerged.”

As Hill intimates, ESPN’s female reporters and columnists already can be seen and heard regularly across the company’s platforms where they play an integral role in ESPN’s overall journalistic efforts. That was particularly evident in the ever-evolving domestic violence discussion.

“It felt like ESPN made a concerted effort to highlight the voices of its female journalists, allowing us to offer our own perspectives on a very nuanced topic,” said Fagan. “Obviously all of us also have experience in covering specific sports — and can certainly contribute to ESPN’s regular coverage going forward, as well — but it was meaningful to help shape the company’s viewpoint on such an important social topic, and one of the most important sports’ stories of the year.”

Storm, whose impassioned editorial on SportsCenter was shared across social media and news outlets, sees the previous weeks as the tip of the iceberg.

“Many people have asked me if this is a tipping point for female sports journalists, and I have to say, that remains to be seen,” said Storm. “It’s only a tipping point when the strong voices that we have heard over the past few weeks on issues directly affecting women continue to be heard on all sports issues, on all platforms, and in all manner of commentary.

“When a woman’s perspective on any sports story, no matter what it is, is valued as equally as a man’s, that will be a true tipping point.”

For more highlights from some of ESPN’s female journalists on domestic violence, visit ESPN MediaZone.

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