Body building is an expensive sport – Lesotho TV

Date: October 9, 2010
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Name of Article/Story: Body building is an expensive sport
Name of TV: Lesotho TV
Date: 1 November 2009
Country: Lesotho
Theme: Sports
Skills: Perspective
Genre: News

GEM classification: Gender blind

The story is about an upcoming body-building competition, Mr Muscle Man. The report looks at the challenges facing body builders in Lesotho. These include the lack of finance and weak, or no, supporting institutions. The report also refers to women body builders and points to a competition targeted at women.

This is a light news feature. Participants, all male, are interviewed and they voice their challenges and their concerns at the high costs associated with this sport. While the report addresses the challenges both sexes face in this sport – it’s blind because it doesn’t solicit the views of women body-builders.

The gender balance is blatantly skewed. It points to the need to review how sport is covered as well as how the media view women as sources and resources for knowledge. Gender disaggregated data was not used: there is no mention made of the numbers of men and women bodybuilders in Lesotho.

The item showcases the gaping hole in its own reportage, for it alluded to, but failed to take a 360 degree view of itself. The omission of women bodybuilders and pulling the plug on their voices weakened the story.

This is unfortunate, because as a news item it was a refreshing spotlight, through a different lens, on a sport that draws little attention. The item could have celebrated women in their diverse roles but instead reverted to the stereotypical view of men as innovators, sporty, knowledgeable, etc.

“Body-building is an expensive sport” is the title of this television sports feature. The headline points to a sport that receives little attention. It also pegs an angle that is different. The headline alludes to coverage of the challenges facing body-builders and thus ties in well to the main story.

The report does not consider any other sources (official, sponsors or sporting bodies). Its narrow focus (single-sex sources (male) body builders all punting the same view, supporting the reporter’s news angle) shrinks the transformative value of the news item.

The strength of the sources used is that various bodybuilders present their views and they touch on the different challenges. In this way, the audience is offered a spectrum of voices and information that complements the main theme. The weakness is the single-sex focus.

Considering that the media ought to play a role in, amongst others, educating, informing, raising discourse, the report falls short on its promise to the media consumer.

The item showcases the need for the media to critically examine its use of multiple, relevant, diverse and gender-balanced sources to ensure fair and balanced reportage.

The item is broadcast in English and participants air their views in indigenous languages. This is important as it allows people to speak in the voice/language they are most comfortable with and this ensures that little gets lost in translation.

The interviewees comment in different languages ensuring the coverage is accessible to diverse audiences. The voice-over, done in English, contextualises, captures and compliments an overall well-presented story.

Visual images
The visuals showcase the bodies of the participants, all male. The visuals are captivating and are able to hold the audience attention. However, the presenter talks about female body-builders and the absence of visuals and commentary from women proves to be a weak factor in the feature. It also reinforces the view that women are not considered or deemed significant.

Story angle and perspective
The angle is the strongest part of the story. The coverage of a sport that has a large following but when compared to other sports, receives less media focus, makes this feature fresh and interesting. This is a plus. The perspective is also an unusual take on bodybuilders and draws attention to the threats this sport faces. The perspective, however, is wholly from a male point of view. The dimension on gender is brought to light superficially. It was a missed opportunity to feature women bodybuilders and their challenges.

Placement of positioning
The story is a sports feature and is given sufficient space. It appears as the first story on the programme.



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