The power of stories: Researching and engaging with sports media

15 August 2017
Professor Toni Bruce
Professor Toni Bruce

New Zealand is considered a country of sports fans, but do we ever consider the meanings and effects of sport in people’s lives?  
Professor Toni Bruce of the University of Auckland is a former news and sports journalist who turned her media and sport backgrounds into an academic career that spans more than 20 years. Her research interests focus on sociological issues related to the media, gender, race and ethnicity, disability and national identity.
She will hold her Inaugural Lecture, “The Power of Stories: Researching and Engaging with Sports Media” at the University of Auckland on Tuesday 12 September.
In it she will weave together more than 25 years researching how the sports media represents sport. Her research raises questions about the remarkable international consistency in media messages, especially about women’s sport.
The diversity of her research topics – gender, disability, race and ethnicity and nationalism – is held together through her focus on the power of dominant discourses to include or exclude, and a desire to create spaces where silenced or marginalised voices can be heard.
This has led to her active engagement as critic and conscience of society commenting in the media on issues in sport. She has written more than 60 newspaper or online columns and is regularly interviewed by newspaper and radio journalists in New Zealand and overseas.
Drawing on her diverse experiences as a researcher, academic storyteller, teacher, public intellectual and passionate sports fan, Toni argues that holding these positions in tension is a powerful place from which to understand the meanings and effects of media stories in people’s lives.
Toni has spent her academic career researching the stories circulated through a major story teller of our times, the mainstream media.
Her current focus is the meaning of rugby on the lives of New Zealanders, and media representation of sportswomen.
She grew up on a sheep farm at Port Waikato, before heading to boarding school in Auckland, where basketball became her sport.
After several years in the UK travelling and working she returned to New Zealand to complete a Bachelor of Physical Education and then studied for her Masters and PhD degrees in Sociology of Sport at the University of Illinois in the United States. She worked her way back to New Zealand via academic jobs in the USA and Australia.

Toni has published over 70 research articles and book chapters and co-edited two books. In the past five years she has given eight keynote addresses or invited panel presentations.
She currently serves on the editorial boards of three international journals. As a measure of her international profile, she was the first non-North American to be elected as President of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport. Last year she published her first academic novel, Terra Ludus, based on more than 25 years researching women’s experiences in sport.
“The Power of Stories: Researching and Engaging with Sports Media” is at 6:30pm (drinks, 5:30pm) on Tuesday 12 September at 401.439 Lecture Theatre, Engineering Building, City Campus, 20 Symonds Street.
To register, click here.
Anna Kellett, Media Relations Adviser