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Women in journalism receive a lot of negative feedback. But, especially in the sports world, the feedback can get nasty, sports reporter Sarah Spain said.

Spain wrote a piece about a “mean tweets” video created by podcast Just Not Sports on on espnW, the publication she writes and makes podcasts for.

Just Not Sports self-describes as a medium where they talk around sports, but not about them. “Athlete interests interest us. So we talk to the sports world about anything and everything … just not sports.” They approached Spain and fellow Chicago sportswriter Julie Dicaro to produce a video where real men read real comments that Spain and Dicaro have received and read, Spain wrote.


In the video, the men start off by reading some soft, bantering criticisms.

“Julie Dicaro is a run-of-the-mill, mediocre beat writer,” one reads.

“Sarah Spain is just a scrub muffin,” another says. Spain chuckles. But then after that, the insults get more visceral. The men reading these comments have not seen them before, and hesitate before reading some of the more colorful words.

“There’s a lot of C-words,” one guy says. Spain nods.

“While I understand that it’s best not to give online harassers the attention they so desperately crave, it’s difficult to ask women being regularly harassed to internalize the hate and venom spewed at them,” Spain wrote in her espnW piece. “Instead of bemoaning a world in which it’s OK to tell someone to “get raped,” our culture demands that the victims of the abuse take it in, digest it, own it and say nothing.”

Spain said she understands that the culture cannot be changed overnight, as evidenced by many of the comments on the Youtube video. But it’s a necessary step.

“I know that a PSA isn’t going to stop all online harassment, but I do hope that continued conversation will persuade those on the margins, who might consider anger as their only tool, to consider real conversation and discussion when they disagree,” Spain wrote.