Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sports Media in Black and White

It seems appropriate that on MLK Day (or at least close to it) to discuss the representation of Blacks in sports media, and particularly sports journalism. Research in 2006 from RTNDA/Ball State shows minority representation in television holding steady at about 22%, which represents pretty good growth from 17.8% in 1990. The overall minority percentage in the U.S. is 33.6%.

One of the contributors to this blog, Jonathan Weiler, posts on his own site the recent cancellation of ESPN's show "Quite Frankly" with Stephen Smith. Weiler note, "I know the show's ratings are weak, and other corners of the blogosphere are down on Stephen A. for his loud-mouthed shtick. And, he can be grating. But, Smith is doing something really interesting on his show. He has long made an issue of the under-representation of African Americans in sports journalism, and especially among the nation's sports opinion columnists. In light of that reality, he's decided to make his show a platform for what he considers to be some of the talented African American sports writers in America, making several of them regular commentators on his show. Rob Parker, Roy S. Johnson and the social commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson are among the regulars who bring alot to the discussion. Furthermore, Smith is not afraid to call his panelists on their points of view. One consequence of his style is that the more simplistic formulations about race are typically challenged, making for an unusual phenonemon on mainstream television: African Americans debating one another about race (and other issues of social significance). "

A good point, and well made.


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