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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Women in media: good and bad examples

Serious sports journalists like Sloane Martin, who happen to be women, fight an uphill battle at times in the male-dominated field. Regardless of the quality of their work, they will be marginalized by some simply because of their gender.

Such was the case this past weekend when Martin, who is a reporter at WCJW in Rochester, NY and will be The Cardinal Nation’s Batavia correspondent this summer, took exception to sexist comments from Chicago Sun-Times columnist Joe Cowley shared on Twitter.

In a follow-on series of tweets, Cowley then directed additional inappropriate remarks at Martin before his account was deleted. She maintained her dignity throughout the episode and afterward while the Chicagoan clearly did not.

As if the job isn’t difficult enough already for women, we have reporter Julie Tristan from KSDK Channel 5 in St. Louis. Tristan offers Exhibit A of what the Cowleys of the world dream about.

Assigned to do a David Freese feature, Tristan completely abandoned any shred of professionalism, flirting with the St. Louis Cardinals star and directing a series of embarrassing comments toward him while on camera. She ended her segment by telling the player, “I love you.” (See a summary of Tristan’s remarks and full video here.)

Can you imagine the ramifications had a male reporter attempted such a stunt with a female athlete? How can these kinds of double-standards be allowed to exist in this day and age?

It is a shame that there are still Tristans out there masquerading as professionals, while providing fuel for sexists like Cowley. They make life more difficult for the Martins of the world who are trying to make a living as credible journalists.

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23 Responses to “Women in media: good and bad examples”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Julie Tristan or Julie Romeo? The lovestory of Tristan and Isolde is famous through the ages. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristan_and_Iseult
    For an article about gender misunderstandings, its nice Julie’s surname recalls a famous romance, one in which Tristan was the male.

    • crdswmn says:

      That’s your comment about a serious issue? Figures.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Classic tales about Tristan the lover have touched untold numbers through the ages. Wagner was inspired to compose music for an opera more lasting than passing tweets.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          I would not want to ride the Mr. Freeze ride. Scary.

          Most tv reporters are first hired partly for looks, men as well as women. And they are expected to be perky, upbeat, or amusing, when on camera, whether on the Today show or on local tv. On local tv, the reporters tend to be learning their craft. Julie is probably not unique.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Julie may have been in a difficult situation. There is a new ride at the amusement park. The station wants to cover it. If Freese is involved are they going to send a male? Unlikely. They are more likely to assign a photogenic gal.
            Is Julie a baseball reporter? If not, did the station arm her with questions or just send her out there with a camera-person to wing it? The setting is not a baseball interview, its publicity for an amusement park, the Cards, and hometown hero Freese.
            I agree that if there is criticism, the producer or station manager should claim it.
            It may not be a fair comparison to juxtapose Julie with a sports reporter who happens to be a woman and who likes to tangle with city slicker sports reporters via Twitter. This is not what the TV station wanted when it assigned Julie to celebrate the new ride at the amusement park.

              • JumboShrimp says:

                Hometown Hero Freese just slugged a 3 run shot for Lady Juliet

              • JumboShrimp says:

                Upon further reflection, I cannot agree that Juliet Capulet or Juliet Tristan is making life harder for tough gals like Sloane.
                I remember when young Judy Garland took a trolley ride, clang clang went the bell, and encountered a charming young man in a brown suit who rode with her to the end of the line, in St Louis, no less. There is nothing wrong with young ladies keeping an eye open for a possible husband. And who could be more suitable than a strong, soon to be rich, hometown hero like David Freese, so renowned that Six Flags has even established a ride in his honor? And he appears on Leno and in GQ?
                Baseball is traditional and Domeboys reveres some of its traditions. What too could be more traditional than love? Without a little bit of flirty fun, would any of us even be around?
                I cannot join the ranks of Juliet Tristan bashers. Every Romeo needs his Juliet. Its heart-warming when Juliets can become tv entertainers and get paid to interview men who step right out of the pages of GQ.

  2. crdswmn says:

    In a male dominated industry like sports, it is an up hill battle for women to be taken seriously. Despite some people’s attempt to make light of the situation, it is a constant source of frustration and irritation that the type of behavior that Tristan exhibited just makes worse. Jenifer Langosch, the Cardinals.com beat writer said in tweets concerning the incident:

    Jenifer Langosch ‏ @LangoschMLB
    My advice to women looking to enter sports journalism – Never, ever conduct yourself like this during an interview: http://on.ksdk.com/IwF9Mc

    Jenifer Langosch ‏ @LangoschMLB
    @BiertempfelTrib Yes, that really went on the air. And I have as much an issue with the news producer who allowed it to be shown. Ugh.

    What was that producer thinking? Is this what he/she thinks female sports fans are really interested in? That we don’t care about baseball at all just how “dreamy” some player is. Of course there are female sports fans that talk about these things, we’re not robots. I have certainly made my share of comments occasionally about the good looks of a player or manager. But men comment about women’s looks too, (I have seen enough pictures of scantily clothed women in baseball blogs to last me a lifetime) and I don’t see male reporters doing interviews with female athletes and leering at them like that. If they did, they would probably be fired. And if you ask me, so should Julie Tristan.

  3. blingboy says:

    If her intent was not to do a serious interview, it was very abusive not to come clean about it with Freese beforehand, in case he would not want to participate. Not having done that, I absolutly can’t believe KSDK would put it on the air.

    • Kansasbirdman says:

      Today’s age there is no bad press, (look at all the “reality tv”). People will dance like a clown to get noticed. It’s the attention that is the goal. KSDK is now more famous. Sad.

      • crdswmn says:

        It’s some of the reaction that is irritating to me. And I hate to say this, but especially from men. Again it’s the assumption that women only want to see this kind of thing and aren’t interested in the sports aspect. Here is a typical response from a website that wrote about the interview:

        “I don’t see the big deal, she did her job. Make sports interesting to stay at home moms during the noon news hour.
        —-Ryan

        This is an excerpt from a Riverfront Times article:

        “This isn’t a news show. It’s a midday puff program for bored housewives, most all of whom probably agree with Tristan that Freese is dreamy and could care less about baseball or Six Flag’s roller coaster ride. ”

        Which article was then followed by a series of sexist and tasteless responses.

        Now, I’m probably going to be thought of as over sensitive or some Femi-Nazi by those who are so inclined to think in those terms (God help them), but I happen to be somebody who still holds out the vain hope that mankind can someday learn to be respectful of others and display a modicum of manners in the public sphere of discourse. Pipe dream? Probably.

        I realize Tristan is not a sports reporter, and I do not expect that she would ask a series of question about Freese’s on base percentage and what is his approach at the plate. But what she did in that piece went beyond professional for any reporter in my view, female or male.

        P.S. And No, stupid commenters at the P.D. David Freese did not enjoy it. At least according to a cameraman who was there.
        http://eureka-wildwood.patch.com/articles/freese-frame-witnessing-awkward-ksdk-reporter-interview

        • crdswmn says:

          Excuse me. It appears that the photographer in the above article was a woman. Interesting observations by her.

        • Kansasbirdman says:

          Of course, I am fairly young. (Just turned 33) so I don’t have a lot of personal experience history to draw upon, but it seems like in today’s age that we are turning into what I would call a “twitter society”. People like those commenting above like to put a short soundbite type response that they think so cleverly solve and define a subject or issue that clearly requires lots of discussion, nuance, and even cognitive dissonance.

          Like the comment from “Ryan” that you posted above. Those type of self-congratulatory (I am so informed and intelligent I can come up with a 140 characters that both define and solve the issue from my unique perspective) comments do nothing to advance an issue although they are written in a way that they are ignorantly intended to end the “discussion” then and there. But when you aren’t even distilling an argument to the basic or essential elements. In the comment “Ryan” created a “reality” that he relied up on in making the strawman (or rather strawomen-intended to be plural) statement. He only offers opinion backed by no argument or refrence of any facts. The first part is clearly opinion- “I don’t see the big deal, she did her job”. No fact, no reasoned argument, only ‘my opinion is a justifiable substitute for reasoned analysis’. The second is opinion disguised as fact. i.e. that only “stay at home moms” “housewives” (nevermind that antiquated notion even exists anymore) would as a group have the same taste, same opinion or watch the same programs”. When people start lumping others into groups and then declare that all individuals in that group act a certain way my ‘idiot radar’ locks on target.

          Sad state of communication and discussion these days. Internet trolldom and baseless statements of opinion (poorly masked as fact or not) have even bled into actual journalism (riverfront times?). Sad, Sad, Sad.

  4. crdswmn says:

    Just as an example of what I was talking about, I received a facebook message from someone responding to a comment I made on a blog insinuating that since I was a female I couldn’t possibly know anything about baseball. Sigh.

    • blingboy says:

      The internet is helping to diminish the problem by increasing the number of sports media venues where a person with little sports journalism background can participate, without gender barriers and without being blocked by the Crowley types. I’m quite sure it continues to be a big problem, though.

      Keep up the good work, both there and here. One item, though. If you would learn to agree with me all the time, you would appear more knowledgeable and savvy. (no smiley since I’m totally totally serious)

    • Kansasbirdman says:

      That’s the defensvie posture of the uneducated bully. Those are the same people that think a comment like that shuts down the argument and if that doesn’t work, they will try the tactic of just yelling louder and being nastier.

      It is the same with political punditry these days. If you can’t win with a well-reasoned argument (and to me the point is not to win but to “enjoy” a rational discussion with an informed person) you resort to calling people a “pinhead” or yelling at a strawman.

      People who like to put others into neat “groups” will see events like what happened with Julie Tristan and try to make that confirmation of thier worldview. This quote helps explain this phenomenon:

      “The difference between stupid and intelligent people — and this is true whether or not they are well-educated — is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambigous or even contradictory situations — in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward.”

  5. CariocaCardinal says:

    Would there be this uproar if this was a reporter hitting on a hot actor? I don’t think so. To the extent one sees the players as entertainers may determine a person’s reaction to this.

    • Brian Walton says:

      To me, it is very clear – professional journalist and professional athlete. Their sexes should be immaterial. Same with the sport and the type of media. The behavior is completely inappropriate.

    • crdswmn says:

      I would react the same way and that is because I don’t think any reporter should “hit on” their interview subject during an interview, period. If they want to hit on them off camera, that is another thing. That kind of behavior can make someone uncomfortable anyway, and making the person uncomfortable, on camera for the whole world to see is just unprofessional and rude.

      The difference for me is that in interviews it wasn’t so much the actual questions, though some of them, like “do you think we’re pretty” were just moronic. But a reporter can ask a subject if they have a girlfriend, or boyfriend, without doing it like they want to jump the subject’s bones right then and there, which is precisely the way Tristan asked it. Yes, it was a fluff piece, but it was a fluff piece conducted by someone acting like a horny teenager at a frat party. That is why I think it was unprofessional and should not have been aired.

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