Sports Journalism – an essay
Sports journalism – the much talked about form of writing is considered as an essential element of majority of the news media organizations which is all for reporting on sports topics and competitions. While the sports section is mockingly called as the ‘toy department’ on account of the sports journalists’ not concerning themselves with the serious news matters; sports coverage itself has come off age in lieu of witnessing growth in wealth, power and influence respectively (Boyle, 2017). The issue concerning sports journalism is much more than the ‘toy box’ of the newsroom and that can be understood in terms of sports’ ability of transcending cultures as well as societies. It has often been found that sports journalism is considered as less professional as well as autonomous than other sectors. In this academic essay, the concept of sports journalism is dealt with in terms of assessing evidence for and against this specific phenomenon in terms of taking into account the networked environment, typical of journalism.
As far as the very concept of sports journalism is concerned, a paradoxical perspective is found to be existent at its heart. Often the issue concerning sports journalism is considered less professional and autonomous than other sectors.Over the years, sports journalism has been considered to have poor relation within the journalism fraternity on account of lacking the professional integrity of which journalists often take proud of(Boyle and Haynes, 2013). As this sort of journalism is said to be lacking the typical journalistic integrity, it is regarded as that specified field of journalism which is nothing but an uncritical booster as well as promoter of sports culture with shameless exhibition of buttering of sports personalities. Journalism, which is powerful on its own account, is therefore distanced from this particular journalistic provision which indulges in easy and banal questioning rather than opting for pertinently penetrating one. This is why investigative journalism is preferred and given importance far more than sports journalism as it focuses on delving deep unto the issues and events.
Simultaneously, the paradox is that sports journalism is undoubtedly one of the most commercially pivotal parts of the newspaper industry. While journalists from other section are often found to decry the lax journalistic parameters which can arguably be traced in the ‘back of the book’; sports journalism showcases its ability to deliver a vast population of readers that in turn makes it a crucial part of commercial success of different newspapers (Wasserstein, 2017). Sports related journalism has thus been characterized as a form of ‘soft’ journalistic practice that is far away from the rigor and credibility of so-called ‘hard’ journalism.
The stark critique revolving around sports journalism and sports journalists points to the fact that sports journalists, more often than not have more in common with other areas of journalistic practice than a large section of journalists tend to care to acknowledge. Popular accounts by journalists dealing with sports news i.e. sports journalists happen to define a profession which has been irrevocably altered as well as transformed by the respective advances in digital and social media(Boyle and Haynes, 2013). Despite the drastic change in the sports journalism scenario, it has remained same as earlier time in certain respects i.e. watching games from the press box, crowding around podiums or in locker rooms for interviews with coach and star players at the end of the game etc. to name a few. Sports journalism can be defined as a significant part of contemporary media which depicts a sector that has not received the detailed analysis of the other areas of the journalism industry(Wasserstein, 2017).
The phrase ‘media-sport complex’ refers to the interconnection between the media and sport. This specific concept manages to incorporate different media institutions, sports organizations alongside the varied processes, products and services that are derived from the relationship. As far as the sport-media connection is concerned, it is found to have played a crucial role in sports journalism in terms of becoming increasingly close, reshaping the structural patterns, governance coupled with ethos of the commercial sport(Maguire, 2011). Mentioning the media-sport complex, the close relationship that exists between the organizations that participate in sport – all these focus on the position of sports in this media-driven society. On account of the ‘ghetto’ structure of sports departments, this can be mentioned that sports journalists tend to remain in their own kingdom of sports departments because ‘once a sports journalist is always a sports journalist’(McCarthy, 2012).
The close relationship that exists between participating organizations in sport i.e. clubs and other organizations like FIFA does have influencing authority over sports journalism. This is because clubs tend to control the players’ whereabouts and careers to a great extent that are integral part of the news, related to the sports activities (English, 2015). As sports journalism is highly routinized and heavily dependent on official sources, cordial relationship with the respective clubs and other organizations are to be kept up for acquisition of authentic news. Sports journalists are more likely to avoid controversial stories about their sources in order to keep the sources intact and also to ensure no negativity affect their relationship with the sources. The journalism integrity often is bypassed because sports reporters happen to overlook or rather be said, avoid crucial stories i.e. exposing the politics of FIFA (FIFA scandal in 2005) in order to maintain their place in the loop. Scoops are vital for survival of sports journalism because that promote the sports related news to a massive extent (Rowe, 2016). Vested interests in the commercial organizations or sports clubs act as deterrent in sports journalism in act of exposing acts of wrong-doing from commercial perspective.
Global sports system is an interdependent system that happens to involve transnational practices with regard to possessing a relatively autonomous dynamic.In order to focus on the factor regarding the impact of the sports media managers on journalists i.e. how they control journalists’ access to players etc. it can undoubtedly be said that the connection and impact are ever-increasing(Cassidy. 2017). Public Relations (PR) and media relations managers are by and large held responsible for providing information subsidies to the journalists and all these take place through conducting regular press releases, media conferences on a regular interval, statistics packages etc. Moreover, arranging mixed zones where journalisms are found to be engaging with sources i.e. players themselves or the coaching experts – are another way of maintaining effective sports-media relationship.
The access control used by PR officers and the media managers ensure nothing or none reaches the players or the team without their knowledge. As media requests tend to go through the media management team, all sorts of interactions between players and sports journalists take place in a formal as well as regulated environment (Oates and Pauly, 2007). As access control leaves the journalists with little choice, they can do nothing but write celebratory stories. This, in a way indicates towards professional club and organizations’ respective opportunist usage of subsidies for achieving their own interests. Commercialization can be witnessed at its best in the field of sports journalism.
There are reasons why sports journalism is to be considered as a serious and professional journalism – and this can be put forth in terms of its authority and power of exposing the derogatory sides of commercializing sports which often gets back-seated due to keeping up with the entertainment trend.The marginalized practice of sports-writing is definitely a matter of serious business because in a democratic culture, narrative is valued side by side information(Yeoman, 2013). Journalists are found to have turned to sports as a prominent cultural activity which is worthy of serious examination by dint of their unsatiated quest for unique as well as sophisticated story-telling strategies. It is to be put forth that sports-writing has fundamental resemblance with other forms of reporting; and journalism should not take up the course of using sports as an ethical straw man against which the virtue of its serious pertinent work is to be defended.
National media cultures are different too that have the ability of shaping experience. While US sports journalists happen to occupy a differing as well as highly elevated space, UK sports writers were not considered almost at that level until the last decade (Cassidy. 2017). Adding to this scenario, it can be said that like all journalism, sports journalism too has a conventional hierarchy with the Number 1 that includes local sports beat reporters toiling at the base of the power hierarchy pyramid. Sports journalists must go through the process of evolution with regard to renewing themselves and becoming further more professional in every possible sense of the term. They must understand the fact that they act as the connection for common progress between sports and the media (Weedon et al. 2016).
The digital turn of the 1990s is another pivotal factor that has led to dramatic transformation of the journalistic scenario, with the provision of sports journalism being at the leading edge of this transition almost most of the time in terms of online sources of information regarding sports and sports culture available to the followers and others. Invention of the internet and the availability of online news outlets i.e.mainstream or alternative - matters in the course of sports journalism and that too in remarkable ways (Sherwood et al. 2016). The concept of digitization has by and large impacted journalism at varied levels; and social media has turned out to be a significant element of the day-to-day life of journalists. Sports journalists tend to make use of social media as a news feed and in order to follow players, journalists, supporters and others.
As far as the expansion of social media is concerned, it has managed to bring forth many changes and consequences to sports journalism. It can be found that a majority of all sports journalists are in favor of using other sports journalists’ blogs. While there is a hike in the number of journalists using audio-visual social services i.e. Youtube; professional media type sites i.e. LinkedIn are used by a certain section of sports journalists. Moreover, Twitter has become a popular platform which has utmost impact on sports journalism with regard to more than 54% of the journalists using the platform on a regular basis (English, 2014).
Twitter has gain popularity amongst sports journalists because majority of the sports stars are found to be using this platform vehemently for promoting themselves as well as connecting with their respective fan-base. Twitter has impacted sports journalism largely as the sports leagues have eventually recognized the power of twitter both as a source of information from athletes and as an important outlet of content. Moreover, freelance sports journalists are found to be more proactive in covering issues which often get sidetracked by mainstream media (English, 2013).
It can be mentioned in this context that the massive adoption of the social networking platforms by sports journalism has adequately reflected the concerned challenges of writing via social media. The challenges are largely inclusive of pressure regarding information obtainment quickly, usage of several mediums for producing content, ever growing competition from other professionals, need of certain social media account maintenance simultaneously etc. to name a few. Internet has given birth to the age of social media and that has definitely changed the way of people’s consumption of sports news (Vermeulen et al. 2016). It can be mentioned in this regard that maintaining a close interactive relation with the audience is clearly a necessity for the work of sports journalists within a competitive framework and scenario.
Sports journalism is an interesting field of journalism that is entertaining to its fullest sense with less involvement in investigative journalism.Quality sports journalism culture must be ensured for adequate growth of sports sector and that requires far more than just narration and transmission of what is being witnessed in a particular sports event. Comprehensive information must be provided by sports journalism that would have the capacity of interpreting public opinion for creation of greater credibility within a given communication medium.No matter what the journalism divisions are, sports oriented reporting is professional work because it delivers to the needs of the readers and sports lovers with a certain precision which is its trademark. Sports truth may be of simplistic nature but it certainly is not negligible. Social media has changed the course of sports journalism like other journalism as well for greater good of news industry and information circulation.
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