What is the ratio of action photos to portrait photos in the media coverage of basketball and volleyball in the Philippines?
1. Basketball is covered more seriously as a sport full of action, and will have a high percentage of articles with action photos.
2. Volleyball is covered more as a following of personalities rather than as athletes in action, and will have a high percentage of articles with portrait photos.
3. Women’s basketball will have the highest percentage of articles with no photos.
To conduct this analysis, I went through the archives of a wide variety of Philippine media websites that cover sports. I tallied the number of basketball and volleyball articles. I marked whether an article used an action photo, portrait photo, or contained no photo. These were then compiled into a spreadsheet sorted by publication, where I determined the overall percentages and differences between photo usage in the two sports.
The main comparison is between men’s basketball and women’s volleyball, because they are the two most popular sports in the Philippines. However, women’s basketball and men’s volleyball are included for additional comparisons.
Depicts the athlete in the frame with the ball (dribbling, spiking, shooting, serving, etc.) or clearly performing an attacking or defensive action (jumping for block, jumping for rebound, guarding player, etc.).
Depicts the athlete standing, sitting, celebrating, and not taking any action specific to the sport at hand. No ball in the photo. No athletic feat being attempted by the athlete.
Article didn’t contain a photo.
Article types were logged but unused in this analysis. They might be utilized in the future.
3 months, April 28 – July 28
The date was chosen due to that being the date when I began logging the archives of publications. Sports events during this time period included: UAAP volleyball finals, PSL games, PVL games, PBA games, UAAP/NCAA basketball preseason, NCAA basketball, and various international competitions for the Philippine national team in all categories.
Articles about coaches were excluded, as were articles about sponsorships, referees, rule changes/management of leagues, team staffs, and interviews with non-athletes. The focus was on articles that featured the athletes. Only articles about sporting events within the Philippines were included, or events that feature the Philippine national team in either sport. Articles about the NBA and other international leagues/events were excluded.
This analysis only utilized featured photos and didn’t take into account gallery photos or additional photos that display within an article. The featured photo is typically the first photo displayed in an article and is the photo that displays when viewing a website’s archives and the photo that accompanies an article when it’s shared on social media.
Media publications were excluded if they did not have an online archive of past articles or if those archives didn’t display the featured photo along with the article. Publications that only post to Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites were excluded due to time constraints, but I believe the trends found in this analysis are likely to carry over to social media sites. 22 publications were included in this analysis. Other publications might be added later. My intention is to revisit this analysis in 3 months and to compile both the past 3 months and the next 3 months into a 6 month analysis.
(Full results with site-by-site breakdown available in the Excel spreadsheet [here])
Basketball was 73.45% of all articles – 4819 in total
Volleyball was 26.55% of all articles – 1742 in total
98.61% – Men’s basketball – 4752 articles
1.39% – Women’s basketball – 67 articles
10.45% – Men’s volleyball – 182 articles
89.55% – Women’s volleyball – 1560 articles
Articles with action photo
64.02% – Men’s basketball – 3042 total
43.28% – Women’s basketball – 29 total
31.87% – Men’s Volleyball – 58 total
33.97% – Women’s Volleyball – 530 total
Articles with portrait photo
27.90% – Men’s basketball – 1326 total
29.85% – Women’s basketball – 20 total
53.85% – Men’s volleyball – 98 total
57.12% – Women’s Volleyball – 891 total
Articles with no photo
7.87% – Men’s basketball – 374 total
26.87% – Women’s basketball – 18 total
14.29% – Men’s volleyball – 26 total
8.85% – Women’s volleyball – 138 total
15 out of 22 sites used action photos 50% of the time or more in men’s basketball.
5 out of 22 sites used action photos 50% of the time or more in women’s basketball.
2 out of 22 sites used action photos 50% of the time or more in men’s volleyball.
3 out of 22 sites used action photos 50% of the time or more in women’s volleyball.
1 out of 22 sites used portrait photos 50% of the time or more in men’s basketball.
3 out of 22 sites used portrait photos 50% of the time or more in women’s basketball.
9 out of 22 sites used portrait photos 50% of the time or more in men’s volleyball.
17 out of 22 sites used portrait photos 50% of the time or more in women’s volleyball.
The top 3 action photo sites in men’s basketball:
Spin.ph – 618 articles
Inquirer – 456 articles
Tiebreaker Times – 438 articles
Daytime View – 100%
CNN Philippines – 82.50%
Tiebreaker Times – 80%
The top 3 action photo sites women’s basketball:
Daytime View – 11 articles
Spin.ph – 4 articles
Inquirer – 4 articles
Daytime View – 100%
Tiebreaker Times – 66.67%
The Guidon – 60%
The top 3 action photo sites in men’s volleyball:
Tiebreaker Times – 33 articles
Spin.ph – 13 articles
Inquirer – 4 articles
Tiebreaker Times – 55.93%
Spin.ph – 52%
Daytime View 33%
The top 3 action photo sites in women’s volleyball:
Spin.ph – 129 articles
Tiebreaker Times – 70 articles
Inquirer – 62 articles
Sports 5 – 60%
Daytime View – 57.33%
Dugout – 50%
The top 3 portrait photo sites in men’s basketball:
Spin.ph – 359 articles
Inquirer – 223 articles
ABS-CBN Sports – 178 articles
Go Archers – 100%
DLSU Office of Sports Development – 100%
ABS-CBN Sports – 36.93%
The top 3 portrait photo sites in women’s basketball:
Spin.ph – 5 articles
Inquirer – 3 articles
ABS-CBN Sports – 3 articles
Fox Sports Asia – 100%
Rappler – 100%
Varsitarian – 100%
The top 3 portrait photo sites in men’s volleyball:
Tiebreaker Times – 26 articles
Volleyverse – 16 articles
ABS-CBN Sports – 15 articles
The Guidon – 100%
Volleyverse – 94.12%
ABS-CBN Sports – 88.24%
The top 3 portrait photo sites in women’s volleyball:
Spin.ph – 149 articles
Inquirer – 144 articles
Volleyverse – 139 articles
GMA Network – 100%
CNN Philippines – 100%
Go Archers – 100%
The analysis seems supportive of my 3 starting hypotheses, although it is certainly possible to reach conclusions other than “basketball is covered more seriously as a sport” and “volleyball is covered more as a following of personalities.” The majority of men’s basketball articles featured an action photo at 64.02%. The majority of women’s volleyball articles featured a portrait photo at 57.12%. And women’s basketball by far had the highest percentage of articles with no photo at 26.87%.
The purpose of this analysis is not to state that action photos or portrait photos are better. Speaking from personal experience, it is slightly more difficult to get an action photo in volleyball than in basketball. Also, volleyball players generally display more emotion after a point is scored than basketball players, which may be a more desirable photo at times. But for the past year I have followed many of the photographers of the various publications and know that they are more than capable of acquiring action photos in volleyball and portrait photos in basketball. At this level, the choice between using an action photo or a portrait photo can be made deliberately.
It may be the case that fans of basketball prefer photos that display a player’s athleticism/skill and that fans of volleyball prefer photos that highlight a player’s appearance. Publications may have experienced greater numbers of likes/shares across social media based on their choice of action photo vs portrait photo. But I’m not sure that this is data that these publications are tracking closely and whether or not individual writers/editors are making a deliberate choice when they post their articles.
Marketing and social media shares aside, I would contend that the percentage of action photos that a publication uses indicates the general tone of the publication. That is, an indication of whether a publication is interested in covering the athletes as athletes, with a focus on their physical feats and their displays of skill, or interested in covering the athletes as gossip personalities that happen to play a sport.
As for this website, Daytime View was above average in percentages of articles with action photos in every category analyzed. Daytime View’s action photo percentage was in the top 3 publications in each category. Interestingly, 100% in both men’s and women’s basketball. Daytime View had 16% of all women’s basketball articles, yet accounted for 37% of all articles with an action photo – 11 out of 11 women’s basketball articles featured an action photo, compared to 4 out of 15 from Spin.ph and 4 out of 7 from Tiebreaker Times. Without Daytime View in the analysis, the women’s basketball action photo percentage would drop from 43.28% to 32.14% and would match the percentages of men’s and women’s volleyball. The percentage of men’s volleyball articles on Daytime View featuring an action photo was rather low, 33%, but this can mostly be attributed to the small sample size of only 3 games, and hopefully there will be more coverage of men’s volleyball by this site moving forward.
Media websites included in analysis: