One of the subthemes of this year’s World Press Freedom Day – celebrated on 3 May – was gender equality in all aspects of the media. Here, we look at how the IOC’s Young Reporters Programme has been flying the flag for female journalists in the male-dominated world of sports reporting.
Approximately 80 per cent of accredited journalists and photographers at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 were male, underlining the gender imbalance that currently exists in the sports media.
It is an issue that the International Olympic Committee has been seeking to address following the publication of the IOC Gender Equality Review Project in 2018, which featured 25 action-oriented recommendations to help push for gender equality in sport, covering areas such as participation, funding, governance and portrayal. The IOC Press Committee has since established a Working Group on Gender Equality to help redress the balance and provide greater opportunities for female journalists at the Games.
One initiative that has already been flying the flag for women in sports media, however, is the IOC Young Reporters Programme, which has been giving aspiring journalists the chance to develop and hone their skills at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) since the inaugural edition in Singapore in 2010.
At each YOG, an equal number of budding male and female sports reporters from around the world have come together to receive training and mentoring from seasoned Olympic media professionals, with class- and field-based tuition giving participants all the tools required to work in today’s modern newsrooms. And the unique experience has proven to be incredibly valuable for the graduates of the programme, with many going on to pursue promising careers in sports journalism.
“What’s been wonderful about the programme has been watching them grow up and do remarkable things,” explains Australian sports journalist Tracey Holmes, who has been a mentor on the programme since its inception. “The mission for the IOC was to have a media programme running in conjunction with the YOG. The idea of the Games is to give young people opportunities and so they decided to give recent graduates, or those who’ve just started in the industry, the chance to be exposed to the Olympic Games at ground level.
“At that first YOG, there were athletes who went on to became Olympians and, in the same way, the Young Reporters were getting good jobs and then reporting on them winning medals. Sometimes they remember each other, and that’s fabulous.”
Here, we take a look at what some of the female Young Reporters have gone on to achieve since being part of the programme.
Kimiya was the first-ever IOC Young Reporter, having been the sole participant in a pilot programme at the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010. She then went on to join the full programme for the YOG Singapore 2010 and Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012, where she was able to further develop her skills. Since then, she has forged a successful career in multimedia journalism and documentary filmmaking, including working for the BBC World Service, CBC, the New York Times, the United States Olympic Committee and the Olympic Channel.
Annesha participated in the Young Reporters Programme at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 and Winter YOG Lausanne 2020. She now works as a multimedia journalist with ESPN (India), primarily as a writer/reporter covering sports such as cricket, tennis, hockey and shooting.
Sonali took part in the Young Reporters Programme at the YOG Singapore 2010 and Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012 and then went on to report at both the Olympic Games London 2012 and the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. She also worked as the digital and data head of the Olympic Information Services Photo Project at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018, while her work has been published by outlets such as The Guardian, Esquire Singapore and The Washington Post. In 2012, she became the youngest member to be appointed to the IOC Press Commission, and then returned to her roots to act as a mentor for the Young Reporters Programme at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018.
Ash was working as a reporter for New Zealand’s largest independent broadcaster, covering events such as the 2011 Rugby World Cup, when she was selected to participate in the Young Reporters Programme at the YOG Nanjing 2014 and Winter YOG Lillehammer 2016. Since then, she has become one of the faces of the Olympic Channel as a reporter/producer.
Paloma Gutiérrez Méndez
After earning a degree in Communications and Information at the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes in Mexico, Paloma participated in the Young Reporters Programme at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 and Winter YOG Lausanne 2020. She has also worked as a news and sports reporter with Radio y Televisión de Aguascalientes ‘RyTA' and Radio BI in Aguascalientes.
Fatima Martinez Cabrera
After graduating with a BA in Communications at the Catholic University of Asunción in Paraguay, Fatima joined the Young Reporters Programme for the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 and Winter YOG Lausanne 2020. She now works as a sports reporter with Diario ABC Color – a major Paraguayan newspaper in Asunción – and in television and radio for ABC TV.
While still in her last term of journalism at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, Emma used her experiences on the Young Reporters Programme for the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 and Winter YOG Lausanne 2020 to earn an internship at Radiosporten – the biggest sports radio station in Sweden.
“It was a dream come true to get picked for Buenos Aires...it changed my life” - #Lausanne2020 🇨🇭 Young Reporter Emma Holmsen 🇸🇪 on the Young Reporters programme— Olympic Information Service (@OIS_Olympic) January 9, 2020
🔗 https://t.co/1tbM6TBUca #YouthOlympics #Olympics pic.twitter.com/W16xrbNN8k