The Week in Photos takes a deep dive into one story from the previous week of Missourian reporting. This week, we're looking at Toby Young's coverage of Tolton girls basketball in the Southern Boone tournament. Hana Kellenberger was the photo editor on the story.
The assigning process is an important element when directing the photo team. Determining where to send photographers is a decision we make every day. There's a balance between the photographers' availability, the time and length of an assignment, travel time and newsworthiness.
On the surface, covering sports may seem easy, or at least more straightforward. We know our audience cares about Mizzou sports, about football and basketball, and about their home teams. But that's not all we cover, and that's on purpose.
Last fall, current assistant director of photography Emmalee Reed conducted a content analysis of our sports photography. Reed found that more than 80% of the sports photography in the fall and winter of 2020 was of men's sports. Nearly 60% of our sports photography fell inside the Columbia city limits. Most of the geographic diversity came from the Friday Night Sights team spreading out across mid-Missouri to cover high school football — a male-dominated sport.
This past week, we covered the Southern Boone basketball tournament in Ashland. Reed said this tournament in particular fell into an intersection of important factors often missing from our coverage: it's not a collegiate sport, it's not a male sport and it's outside of our typical coverage area.
"People in Ashland consume our news, and they'll pay attention to it," Reed said. "They deserve to have a little spotlight shown on them and to have their news and their sports covered."
Along with geographic variety, photographing girls sports does more than just increase our diversity of coverage. According to photographer Toby Young, the photos themselves show a different side of the action.
"At least from my experience, I found that women are more expressive with their faces throughout the game," Young said. "Guys always look mad or straight-faced, whereas women smile, they laugh, they look really upset."
Young's photos in particular stood out to his editor, Hana Kellenberger. She photographed girls basketball as a staff photographer in the fall, including a Tolton game. She knew what to expect. She also knew about former research that shows how female athletes are portrayed differently from male athletes. This discussion came up recently during her visual editing course.
"Sometimes, I find that [photos of] women's sports don't capture as much of the athleticism as men's sports do," Kellenberger said. "But there's just as much here... [Young] finds good moments, whether it be action or otherwise."
Despite their different interpretations of the sport, both Young and Kellenberger picked out the above photo as their favorite from the bunch.
"It's just a really cool sports moment," Kellenberger said. "All the girls are in motion. They're all doing something. And it's moving all one way."
"We actually kind of had that moment when we were editing," Young said. "We both saw it and said, 'That's the one.'"
The Week in Photos also highlights some of the visual team's best work that you may have missed throughout the week. This week, we did some unique and visually intriguing work with stories big and small.
The Method is the Columbia Missourian's photography blog. In writing about pictures, it seeks to demystify how our photojournalists cover their community and place their work in the context of a larger visual world.