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Category: Commentary

Keep track of the latest news and information out of the National Sports Journalism Center on this page. We’ll keep you updated on guest speakers, special events, outstanding student work, and recently published research.

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Nostalgia is a real and powerful thing. Memories are real and powerful and important to hold on to.

But nostalgia and memories can’t be a business strategy. As Jeff Jarvis once wrote, no successful business model ever began with “people should.”


This has become less about Kareem Hunt’s actions and much more about the NFL and the Chiefs’ institutional response to it.


The thing about The Peter Man, in the end, is that he can fit whatever narrative you want to tell.

If it’s about a comically bad quarterback, if it’s about a team’s mismanagement of a position, if it’s about a lost season of football, if it’s about race and power in the NFL, if it’s about a fan base’s desperation for their team to be relevant, if it’s about a historically ineffective offense, or if it’s about how media narratives, practices and attitudes can color how we view a player, Nathan Peterman is the vessel in which we can fill whatever story we want.


For almost 20 years, I’ve joked that sports writing is our family business. My sister spent nearly two decades at the Buffalo News. I took her job at The Olean Times Herald’s sports department at the start of my own career. I’ve never made it a secret that I became a sports writer because my big sister was one.


I’ve asked “talk about” questions.

There. I’ve said it.

If you’re a sports reporter reading this, there’s a good chance you have, too. Be honest.


We’ve all met that person (or, in lower moments, been that person) who has been the sore loser at a game light. They’re not popular people. They’re not people whom you want in your life. We mock these people.

Except when they’re athletes. Then, we celebrate them.


This is a fairly common philosophy – that sunlight is the best disinfectant, that we shouldn’t be afraid to listen to people we disagree with. And the engine driving this philosophy is the notion that, as Milton said, truth will eventually win.


How should the press cover athlete activists? What responsibility do sports journalists have when they no longer stick to sports?


Monday’s layoffs at the New York Daily News are cataclysmic for that city and for the industry. They feel bigger and worse because they hit the nation’s biggest media market and are shredding a proud and vibrant newsroom.


Last week’s series noted the changes to sports journalists’ day-to-day work routines, one routine that hasn’t changed is the daily deadline. The data suggest that the daily deadline remains the defining difference between newspaper journalism and online journalism.


Digital and social media and the journalism-as-process model are becoming more prevalent in the profession. Sports journalism is online now, starting on Twitter and ending with a story on a news organization’s website. Print, if not incidental, is just one part of the job now, rather than the focus. Sports journalists’ work routines appear to reflect this.

However, their norms and values remain rooted in print. Their loyalty to the idea of “the story” and their frustration at having to feed “the stream” of online information, is indicative of this split.


There was little to no differentiation to levels of fandom, whether or not a reader was a die-hard or casual fan. In fact, the interviews seemed to indicate that the journalists assumed fans were die-hard, that they were all watching the game or already knew the final score of the game. That attitude seems to shape sports journalists’ beliefs in how the job should evolve.


The interviews I conducted showed that editors are aware of what kinds of stories are popular online, when during the day they are popular, and on what platforms the stories are being read (desktop, tablet, mobile). This information is influencing story selection, in that editors are shifting coverage to reflect the audience’s online behavior and desires.


Reporters I’ve spoke about the expectations their editors have for them for publishing news online, being active on social media. At times, it was explicit. Two reporters said they knew they were being evaluated in part on their digital output, and another said that he knew if he didn’t post something online after his team’s practice, he’d get a phone call from editors. At times, it was implicit.


This new routine has brought sports journalism, at least in part, out of its night-shift cocoon and has integrated sports journalists into the rest of the newsroom. Their daily work, the things they are actually expected to do, is beginning to revolve more around the stream than the story. The story is something they are expected to do, but it is now only one thing they are expected to do. It is no longer the focal point of their day.


Our responsibility as educators is to prepare our students for their careers, not just for a job. That’s the core of my teaching philosophy. We need to teach our students to solve interesting problems, to think big and beyond themselves, to create the future of journalism. But at the same time, my kids need jobs now.


Much of the popular and trade press coverage of The Athletic has revolved around its business model, and rightfully so. But implicit in its marketing slogans is a promise of sorts. If The Athletic styles itself as the sports news organization that is making readers “fall in love with the sports page again,” it stands to reason that they will be offering something different from the sports pages of current newspapers.


Last week, I had the pleasure of attending my favorite academic conference — the International Association of Communication and Sport’s annual summit. This year’s summit was held at The Media School at the gorgeous campus of Indiana University in Bloomington.


There is nothing wrong with women’s sports. They are not a puzzle to be solved. On many levels throughout the country and the world, they are doing well.

The coverage of women’s sports? Well, that’s always an issue to discuss.


One of the most interesting developments in sports journalism in the past decade has been the growth of team and league websites as news sources and the hiring of sports journalists by those sites. The journalists often act as “team journalists,” which to traditionally minded sports reporters sounds like an oxymoron but has increased the amount of information available to fans and readers.


It was a fantastic moment, quintessential March.

Except … Until.

The referees huddled around the monitor. They checked the time. They checked it again. They made sure that the clock was correct. They added .3 of a second back on the clock. Enough time for a theoretical basket, but in practice, the game was over.


The way the NCAA Selection Committee picks the tournament field is broken, and the way sports journalists cover it is broken.


If The Athletic is really about reinventing sports journalism and overthrowing the tyranny of the daily sports page (instead of just biggering the bank accounts of the VC investors), where do young writers fit into this equation? Is there a spot for them at the number of sites?


It’s an idea a lot of us around sports media have had for a long time. ESPN, Fox Sports Network, and other cable sports networks use their nightly highlight shows not as a place for journalism but as a place to promote sports — especially the sports the network has a vested interested in succeeding. It’s one of the reasons, we assume, that you see tons of NBA talk on ESPN but rarely a mention of the NHL.

Like a lot of interesting research, Johnson and Miller’s study takes this assumption that we have and tries to figure out whether or not it’s true.


This is ESPN trying to have it both ways. It’s trying to add a kind-of ala carte service (which is interesting) but also maintain its connection to cable subscriptions. That’s no real surprise – as Galen said on that episode of The Flip Side, carriage fees are ESPN’s heroin. That $7 a month it gets from every cable bill is what built the network. It’s going to hold on to them and rely on them as long as possible.