3 questions to consider about sports media and sports journalism
A little food for thought: Three interesting reads about journalism and sports media from the last few days.
First, on CJR.org, Ann Friedman asks, “Should all journalists be on Twitter?” Launching from a BuzzFeed piece giving the New York Times grief for some of its stars ignoring Twitter, Friedman puts it another way:
“Can you still be an effective journalist if you ignore Twitter?”
She concludes, “You should consider getting comfortable with 140-character communication if”: You write about media, TV, pop music or digital culture, because of the prevalence of Twitter use among people in, and covering, those industries. I’d add sports. Also, if you want to give your audience a way to interact with you, if you think you might be looking for a job someday—because it’s a great place to network—or you love words.
We’ve talked before around here about how Twitter is a great way to learn about concision and economy of language.
Conversely, keep that egg avatar and ignore Twitter if:
You have a completely secure job at one of the world’s largest print publications and don’t see a need to network with other journalists. And don’t care if they see your work.
You are content to let readers contact you via your personal email or an email to your publication’s general inbox, and don’t feel a need to respond immediately.
You don’t enjoy playing around with words.
Second, Mathew Ingram’s piece at GigaOm.com, “Journalism’s biggest competitors are things that don’t even look like journalism.”
It’s a nuanced piece I want you to go read, but the main point is that any journalism outlet’s—or any journalist’s—competition isn’t necessarily journalism done better, it’s anything that gives the audience the information or experience it’s looking for, whether it’s journalism or not. As an example, people used to read reviews of new music before buying. Now, they listen to the music themselves on services like Spotify.
Taking off from this blog post on fungibility by journalist/programmer Stijn Debrouwere, Ingram offers these possible responses:
Focus on storytelling and personality, because those things are irreplaceable, and concentrate on appealing to readers who are passionate about specific topics.
Finally, Scandal, sports journalism and the NCAA, by sportswriter-turned-journalism professor Brian Moritz. It’s an examination of SB Nation’s decision not to pursue the Todd Gurley autograph story when a tipster approached them, “because the purpose of this website is not to enforce the NCAA’s insane bylaws. On the contrary, we’re all for players making money, and are thus editorially supportive of those bylaws’ erosion.”
Moritz asks, “Is good journalism that tacitly endorses a corrupt status quo good?” That is, if we can all agree that the NCAA rule that Gurley broke is stupid, and part of the foundation of a corrupt system, is it good to help the NCAA enforce that rule, even if good journalism is committed in the process?
Moritz leaves it as a question and so will I. Two things to consider, though: In most cases, and certainly in the Gurley case, not reporting it won’t prevent the story from being reported. As SB Nation surely knew, the tipster would keep moving on to other outlets until he found one that would run the story.
On the other hand:
Exposing wrongdoing is a core mission of journalism. But when that becomes your focus—sniffing out scandal without contextualizing it—it can get dangerous. You start to seek out the scandal without seeing the whole board. You start to get so caught up in asking about the salacious details of the scandal that you forget to consider the larger questions.