Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Did TV journalist report from New York Jets locker room in business attire? Did the players respond appropriately?...

Dr. George Arnold, a Marshall University professor emeritus and author of "Media Writer's Handbook," has some interesting things to say about the Mexican journalist and the locker-room controversy.

"For more than 40 years, I have advised journalism students (and professionals during seminars) that part of their preparation for face-to-face interviews is TO DRESS APPROPRIATELY. Appropriately means to match one's attire to the situation. Dress conservatively for dress up interviews (dinners, awards ceremonies, political conventions, inaugurations, religious events, etc.). Wear conservative casual clothing when accompanying subjects on field trips, excursions, county fairs, etc.

"The woman is NOT DRESSED APPROPRIATELY, and she knows it. Her bosses also know it and allowed it. She doesn't just wake up each working day and put on the first thing she sees in her closet. Both she and her bosses are taking advantage of her sexual attractiveness. Is there any sane person anywhere who doesn't think her dress is provocative? She would have to be incredibly stupid to think she would attract no more attention from men (and women, too) dressed the way she was instead of wearing something more conservative (looser fitting and covering more).

"The behavior of the men she complains about is not justified, regardless of her dress. The team management should complain about the reporter's appearance with her bosses and also make clear to their own employees that their behavior is unacceptable regardless of the provocation."

"This reporter needs to make up her mind whether she wants to be a show business sex symbol (posing on the web in brief bathing attire, dressing inappropriately as a reporter) or a committed professional journalist. She can't be both.

"And that's what I have to say about that!"


P.S. Let me know how the debate turns out. Very interesting topic.


Whitney Burdette said...

I somewhat agree with Dr. Arnold. While the reporter was dressed inappropriately, there was no reason for the players and coaches to harass her. At the same time, Ms. Sainz needs to take her job as a journalist seriously. Women have a hard enough time making it in the field, especially in regards to sports journalism, without treating the job as a fast track to the cover of Playboy.

That said, the players and coaches also need to conduct themselves in a professional manner. Harassing a beautiful woman just because she is showing some skin is a step backward. She may have been asking for attention, but these men who want her to act professionally in their locker room must also learn to behave.

Kristen said...

In journalism, we are taught to be professional in all instances related to our work. This comes down our dress. This woman seems to have ignored that fact. Still, the player's behavior was not justified. I'm slightly not surprised, given the testosterone-driven environment. (Half naked guys seeing a scantily clad woman walk into their locker room? Come on, do the math). Still doesn't make the behavior right.

Marlowe Hereford said...

I have been following this story closely since it surfaced. This is a story that personally affects me as a female sports reporter. I have been outright verbally harassed once and have experienced "borderline" verbal harassment very recently. It is not fun, and I have several female colleagues in my field across the country who can vouch for me and share my views.
This story has escalated to a huge mess and I have two positions on the matter. Equal access to locker rooms has been supported by law since the late 1970s:
I have never been in a locker room and personally hope I never have to, but will if I am on assignment and that is the only way to get quotes. I have several female colleagues in my field who have shared their locker room experiences with me and with the exception of a few, they didn't experience anything slightly resembling harassment.
I vehemently defend equal access to locker rooms for ALL sports journalists, regardless of gender. There is not always a designated interview location for teams and sometimes you can't get quotes from certain athletes unless you take the initiative to do the interview in the locker room. I support the investigation request given by the Association for Women in Sports Media, an organization I am a member of, and I am eager to find out the results of the investigation. In several interview since the Jets practice, Sainz has said she didn't do anything to provoke the alleged behavior from the athletes. From what I can tell, she didn't want it to escalate to the point it has now. Regardless, I don't think what she allegedly experienced is something to brush off and I am glad an investigation was issued. As a female sports reporter, you have a fine line to walk based on letting certain "uncomfortable" remarks/behaviors slide or reporting them to higher authority. You have to know when to speak up or keep your mouth shut. The first time I was harassed, I almost didn't report it, but I'm glad I did and it was resolved.

Marlowe Hereford said...

On a completely different note, I do not endorse Sainz's stance on dressing however she wants wherever she wants, regardless of the situation. From what I've read on my own the past few days, I understand the Mexican journalism field is more risque than what we're used to, and I acknowledge the difference in culture. However, I digress with this point that applies to ALL journalists: if you don't dress professionally, you won't be treated professionally. Unfortunately, female sports journalists are still fighting decades after Title IX and similar legislature to be taken just as seriously as our male colleagues, and Sainz's stance gives all female sports journalists a bad name. I am a very reserved dresser as it is, but I dress professionally when I am on the job. Sometimes, though, dressing appropriately won't prevent harassment from occurring. I know because it has happened to me and I take offense to what I like to call "prehistoric" thinking about the rights of females in male-dominated fields such as my profession.
I will continue to follow this story as it develops further. I have read numerous stories and columns and listened to several commentaries since the story surfaced and would like to share the following column written by Jenni Carlson, former AWSM president, current chair of the board for AWSM and a journalist I am proud to call my colleague:
I also agree with the views expressed in this column by my hero and colleague, Christine Brennan:
I, too, hope there will be a day when female reporters can enter a locker room without fear. More importantly, I hope there will be a day females in my field will truly be respected for the credible, devout journalists we are in the eyes of this country and other nations.
I am forever indebted to the women sports journalists who have paved the way for my generation and I hope I can do the same for future generations of women aspiring to work in our field. Unfortunately, our battle is far from over. It is a day to day challenge we all face.

kquinonez said...

I agree with Dr. Arnold in the sense that the reporter should dress appropriately for the event he or she is covering. Both the interviewee and the reporter will feel more comfortable.

From what I can see of Ms. Sainz attire, she was wearing a pair of tight jeans and a halter top. While I personally would not have chosen this ensemble to interview anyone, let alone athletes, there was no reason for her to be harassed. Lack of professionalism was prevalent on both sides.

It seems to me, though, that Ms. Sainz isn't really even taking her job seriously as a reporter. The article said that she has done bikini spreads. She also brought on controversy when she began Tweeting pictures of herself in her outfit after being harassed.

Andrew Ramspacher said...

What Dr. Arnold writes here is a very valid point. At a workplace, there's a fine line between dressing like a professional and dressing like you're presenting at MTV's Video Music Awards (Although, Sainz's outfit still wouldn't have made Lady Gaga blush ... But I digress).

Yes, what the Jets did was wrong. There's a code written in the NFL strictly concerning female reports and how they should be respected. However, Sainz's Britney Spears-esque attire (like from the early '00s, before Britney got weird) does not help her situation in the least.

Neither does the fact that IT WASN'T HER who reported the harassment, it was Jets' beat writers who cover the team daily and saw it for themselves. This makes me wonder if this was the first time Sainz has been treated this way.

Or was it just the first time somebody spoke out about it?

MariaRomano said...

I agree that both the reporter and the players were at fault. She should have anticipated how she would be seen by the players and the players shouldn't have harassed the reporter regardless of how she dressed.

J Eric McMillion said...

Unfortunately there is a double standard for women reporting on journalism. They are expected to dress sexy to promote ratings. Its not right but its a fact of life and someone like Dr. Arnold should point it out its gone way to far.

Chris Swindell said...

Preach the good Word, Dr. Arnold. And while we're at it we should begin the conversation about people who dress for attention ... then complain when they get it.


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