What Made Kate Fagan Write

You turn on ESPN. There is a reporter talking about Lebron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers star player.

The next topic of discussion is Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback. Then they are talking about Kris Bryant, the third baseman of the Chicago Cubs.

The reporters are covering the same stories.

Popular sports.

Popular male athletes.

No women.

 “Media Coverage and Female Athletes,” a PBS Emmy Award-winning documentary, found that “40 percent of all athletes are female yet they receive just two to four percent of media coverage.”

Kate Fagan, a journalist for espnW, wants to see this change.

She recently spoke to Miami University students about her experiences as a woman sports journalist in a field dominated by men.

While featured on ESPN’s “Around the Horn,” Fagan would use her 30-seconds to discuss what is happening in women’s sports.

After viewers started noticing this trend, they started to roll their eyes when she started talking.

Viewers wanted to hear the popular highlights.

“It’s about how the sports world sees female athletes,” Fagan said. She noticed early in her career that audiences care about the story and the stakes.

People pay attention more to high-stake sports like the Olympics because the athletes have more to “lose.” Men’s sports tend to have higher stakes than women’s. Fagan understands why because it’s how the media has always portrayed it.

Early in her career at ESPN, Fagan found that they would ask her to come on-air only when a scandal about an athlete went public.

She specifically remembers when she had to go on-air about the 2014 Ray Rice scandal when Baltimore Ravens running back had hit his fiancé in an elevator.

She wanted to talk about sport highlights. Not just hot-button topics.

“People would only listen to me on television when I had makeup on. I had to start asking for makeup, so I felt high-maintenance.” Fagan said. “But, I had a story I needed to tell.”

“Nobody will read your story unless you have a human embodying your story for you,” Fagan added.

She finds that journalism gives her more opportunities to write stories about women athletes.

One of her most popular pieces was her article, “Split Image”. Madison Holleran, a University of Pennsylvania track and field athlete died by suicide after struggling with mental health issues.

Fagan used Holleran’s story to exemplify the effects of social media on mental health.

Her audience, typically middle-aged women and men, suddenly became 16 and 17-year olds.

They wanted to hear more. The 400-word limit was not enough to tell a story this big. Fagan knew she needed to publish a book.

Months later, she published “What Made Maddy Run”.

Fagan’s story about a woman athlete finally got the attention she had fought so hard to get.                                                                                    

Kate Fagan is continuously trying to find stories about woman athletes that will captivate readers. She does not feel intimidated being one of the few women journalists for ESPN.

She sees it as an opportunity.

To contact Kate Fagan, visit her website at http://www.bykatefagan.com/.

Feature Photo