Newsmakers: DO alumna Jen McCaffrey on navigating the male-dominated field of sportswriting: ‘You have to take them down a notch’
Courtesy of Jen McCaffrey
Among the crowd of 15-plus beat writers interviewing players and coaches in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse, one reporter sticks out. Not only is that person the youngest full-time beat reporter there, but she is the only woman.
That woman is Jen McCaffrey (‘10), who is entering her third full season covering the Red Sox for MassLive.com. Though she does not let her differences get in the way, McCaffrey said she does have to be more mindful while inside the clubhouse.
“It’s something always present,” she said, “But the older you get and the more experience you have, you know how to handle remarks.”
Women are not a common sight in the Red Sox clubhouse — or in most sports locker rooms, for that matter. A recent report from the Women’s Media Center (2015), found that women only produced 10 percent of sports news. That was a near seven-point drop from the year before. The few women in sports often have to battle against sexism and stereotypes and McCaffrey is no exception.
There have been multiple occasions, McCaffrey said, where athletes don’t think she knows what certain statistics mean. When talking to her, the players try and explain it differently so that she would understand. She usually has to interrupt and tell them she knows what they are talking about.
While on the sidelines covering high school sports for her previous job at the Cape Cod Times, McCaffrey also faced constant stereotyping. Many times it was older white men that would be the first to make a remark and question whether McCaffrey knew what she was doing or suggest she shouldn’t be on the sideline.
“You have to bring them down a notch,” she said.
Rather than getting hung up on the apparent criticism and sexism, McCaffrey puts her head down and works hard. The only way to stop the constant discussion is to “prove to them you know what you can do,” she said.
For most of her early 20s, McCaffrey has been a beat reporter, different than her role while at The Daily Orange. She did do some beat reporting while in college, though the majority of her work came in the form of features that served as previews for SU’s weekend football and basketball games.
“I was focused on my Newhouse classes and other things that I didn’t go out for a football or basketball beat,” McCaffrey said. “I tried to get a well-rounded approach and go about things that way.”
In her senior year at SU, McCaffrey interned at The Post-Standard, covering local high school sports, just like she eventually would go on to do at the Cape Cod Times. Her job resulted in many lost weekends, as she would have coverage on Friday and Saturday nights.
“It wasn’t the most glamorous thing,” she said. “My friends were hanging out, having a good time and I was wherever in the middle-of-nowhere New York.”
During her three years at the Cape Cod Times, she pushed and kept earning bigger opportunities. One came in 2013 when the Red Sox played in the World Series, just six months after the Boston Marathon bombing.
McCaffrey would drive 90 minutes to Boston to write game columns. After, she would go back home and pick up her normal routine covering high school sports.
“I did that all throughout the postseason,” she said. “I kind of knew some people, so it was kind of crazy. A little surreal. To have them thrown into that and cover that pretty monumental game.”
She made the most of the opportunity. Just a few years later, the trip to Fenway Park is now much shorter and more frequent. Her hour-plus drives are now sporadic road trips to cover a professional baseball team. McCaffrey’s nights spent covering local sports instead of going out with friends have paid off.
“If you can make it work and you work hard enough, you can get here,” she said. “Watching games and analyzing games and talking to athletes and the issues that surround the game, it’s a good way to make a living.”
Published on February 16, 2017 at 5:40 pm