In response to the requirements for “diversity” from the regulatory authorities companies, politicians, professional or organizational bodies, this conference will question the notion of diversity in sports news on television.
The main objectives are to deconstruct this notion and to question its plasticity in terms of standard social stereotypes and assignments (gender, class, ethnicity age, sexual orientation, disability.). In order to point out this under its consensual appearances, it induces principles of (dis)qualification, judgments, and naturalizes social processes of labelling individuals and groups. This is why it is important, to begin with, to analyse the uses and aims of the notion of diversity in television channels at several levels:
Firstly, policies documents and working practices created by the television channels to raise awareness among their staff and audiences on “diversity” themes (for example the Paralympic Games); The inclusion of “diversity” in commercial and managerial strategies. Indeed diversity can become a marketing stake for the media companies – as shown by the label diversity delivered by the AFNOR (French National Organization for standardisation) – and promote both women’s recruitment for the presentation of sports TV shows and the building of a “multicultural journalism”.
Secondly, an analysis of the mechanisms is needed where the promotion of the diversity fits into a professional paradigm, at the time when the media representations of the sport are being built. Because promoting diversity to bring about change in the newsrooms and transform the television images is not enough. Therefore the policies which are decided by the managers, still have to comply with the professional socialization, the division of labour, the professional routines and the constraints of production in the newsrooms. For example, short deadlines encourage the use of simplified overviews of the world. This point raises the question of the place of rules in the journalistic work, in which way they define the subjects and their perspectives.
Thirdly, the analysis has to incorporate the sports environment: which includes three elements
- the participants (the athletes, regional, national and international governing bodies, the agents, the International Olympic committee, the fans and the TV viewers).
- Its links to commercialization (sponsors) and communications strategies (including those on the social networks),
- Its specificities, as the principles of the essentialization of bodies and performances.
Finally, it is important to compare other national contexts. This is the only way to demonstrate that the term “diversity”, its emergence, its circulation in public, political, professional and media spheres, its value within society depends on the specific national, professional, organizational and cultural places in which it is developed.