Pam Oliver deserved better from Fox Sports.

Before the 2014 NFL season began, Oliver was replaced by Erin Andrews as the lead sideline reporter for the NFL on Fox.  And in a rare display of honesty, Oliver continually spoke out about her dissatisfaction with the demotion and the behind-the-scenes happenings that led to change.  She revealed that Fox initially wanted to take her off the sidelines completely before restoring her to the #2 broadcast team.  And, she even called out her employer for their trend towards “young, blond and hot” and emphasizing that over everything else.

That continued as Northwestern University hosted a panel this week on women in the sports media featuring Christine Brennan of USA Today, Cassidy Hubbarth of ESPN, Rachel Nichols of Turner Sports, and Oliver.  At the event, Oliver was outspoken about the need for reporters to focus on journalism and called out networks for valuing looks over reporting credentials.  One couldn’t help but think she was speaking about her own experience in the last year:

“It’s a small club of women (in sports media) who put journalism first,” Oliver said. “They’re not in it to be celebrities or big on Twitter. You can tell when someone is serious with what they are doing. You can tell when someone is putting in the hours to get to know the players and coaches beyond just using your looks, or you know, your assets.

“I wish some of the hiring practices would improve. There’s a definite pattern with a certain look and certain quality that the outlets are going after.”

At this point, Oliver paused and took a sip of water. She admitted the issue gets her “emotional.”

“I just want to see passion out there and young people who are in it for the right reason,” Oliver continued. “It’s not about wanting to be seen on TV. It’s about wanting to be a journalist. I hope and pray as I look around the room that you’re willing to do the work.”

Oliver eventually finished her monologue by saying, “It’s the journalism, it’s the journalism.”

It’s the journalism: that’s a message that goes beyond sideline reporting to all of sports media.  And it starts at the top.  Unless networks begin to emphasize reporting credentials and that passion for all its personnel, then the same issues will always arise.  But as long as respected individuals like Oliver continue to speak out about the importance of the quality of the work and not just appearances, hopefully some positive and progressive changes will be made moving forward.