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University of Southern California

The IJPC Journal, Volume 10 - Fall 2021 - Fall 2022

In Search of the Female Sportswriter: A Mass Communication Mystery

Donna L. Halper


While fictional women characters have been newspaper reporters as far back as the beginning of the 20th century, few of these women covered sports. That's a puzzling omission: even in the 1910s, there were numerous books for girls about female protagonists who had their own automobiles, piloted airplanes, went on exciting adventures exploring the world, and even solved murder mysteries; yet woman sportswriters were few and far between. Films were not much better: there were "girl reporters" like Torchy Blane or Tess Harding, but none of them covered sports either. And the few female characters who did become sportswriters were often forced into it by circumstance, rather than because they were fans. Media historian Donna Halper's essay explores the few female characters who have covered sports in books and movies;
she analyzes some of the cultural stereotypes that affected how these characters were often portrayed, and assesses how much has changed since the first fictional women sportswriter made her debut in a silent movie in 1921.

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