Meet the Four Women Running the Washington Post's Sports Beats
The Washington Post is the first major newspaper to have women reporting on four major professional sport beats: Liz Clarke (Redskins), Candace Buckner (Wizards), Chelsea Janes (Nationals), and Isabelle Khurshudyan (Capitals).
With 88.3 percent of sports being covered by male reporters, according to a study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, these four women of different ages and backgrounds at one sports desk is a rarity.
Editor-in-Chief Matt Vita hired all four women. He said that it was not his intention to only hire women but instead said he hired the "best reporter in position to do their best work, and the beats to which their suited. And in this case, I was gender blind in a way because in each of their cases they were the best reporters I had to cover those beats when they moved to them."
Clarke, who says "Don’t apologize for being female as you go about your job," has been with The Washington Post since 1998. She first got into sports journalism covering a piece on academic fraud in college basketball. She has since covered eight Olympics, college football and basketball games, two World Cups, and countless tennis matches. She was honored twice as Motorsports Writer of the Year from her auto racing writing, Good Sports reports.
"I so enjoyed the bosses I had in sports, and the subject matter and the challenges, I stayed with it, and grew with it as well," Clark said.
She added: "I know my ability, I know my strengths, and I know my weaknesses. And I've never been one who feels like I have to fit in or periodically takes stock if I'm one of ten women in this room, etc."
Buckner found her passion in journalism after putting her dreams of being an athlete and TV host to rest. She joined the Post in 2016 as a sports reporter.
"I'm finally starting to see a lot more women in visible beats. Whether it's writing for newspapers, web sites, et cetera, there are so many good reporters, who happen to be women, covering major stories," Buckner said.
Janes, a college softball player, came across the written word when she offered to help a girl in her dorm write an article about an athlete. She immediately fell in love with writing and sports.
"I think a better goal is that women earn the same kind of consideration for jobs that men do, and are assessed the same way — not necessarily considered more because they are a woman, but considered the same way. I think as long as that continues to happen — because I do believe that is the reality in a lot of places now, women have a strong future in journalism, and young girls will have plenty of role models to look at as they consider going into the field," Janes, who started her reporting career in 2011, said.
Khurshudyan began her career at the Post in 2014. She became a reporter for the Capitals beat after she graduated from the University of South Carolina.
"I think it's a little bit harder to be taken seriously sometimes. It's always felt like I've had to work harder for credibility with the fan base of whatever team I’m covering. There's even less room for error to say or write the wrong thing, because the perception is often that the mistake is a result of me being a woman and not a normal human who occasionally makes mistakes. But that almost makes it more rewarding when you finally do establish yourself as that authoritative voice on your beat and no one’s really 'mansplaining' to you anymore," Khurshudyan said.
Putting women in the typically male-dominated field of journalism has proven beneficial for the Post.
"They see stories differently than most male reporters, and that presents opportunities for a different perspective on a male professional sports team, and that’s just terrific. As a result, the readers are better served," Vita said.
Photo Credit: Facebook/ Stanford Journalism Program