The growth in use of sports blogs and social media platforms by athletes is changing how sports fans are consuming game and player information, leaving traditional media outlets like local television and newspapers to question their role in providing coverage. This study uses quantitative research to show how media outlets and journalists are using these platforms and how it is changing the way they cover sporting events and stories.
Keywords: Blogging, Twitter, Sports Media, Journalism
New media, also known as social media has given sports fans another way to consume information as well as interact with the mass media. The platforms that have been mentioned the most are blogs and the social networks, Facebook and Twitter. In just the past 5 years news organizations, specifically sports networks have adjusted their formats to include the information shared on these platforms to stay current. Schultz and Sheffer (2008) said new media practices have changed the ways information is gathered, distributed and how audiences are accessing and consuming the material. Blogs and Twitter are so common and popular; more fans have turned to these websites as their first source to get their information and get involved by sharing their thoughts. Several professional and collegiate athletes have their own personal accounts that have provided their fan base with the news they wanted to share, bypassing traditional media outlets such as television and print altogether. This literature review focused on the new technology and how its use is changing sports media both positively and negatively.
While there have been several articles published on the usage of new media and how the mass media uses them, Schultz and Sheffer (2008) provided one of the more detailed of how blogs have become apart of national broadcast and hurt local television. They gave examples of how the Eastern Sports Network (ESPN) reformatted their broadcast to include the audience. Another author backed up their claim, pointing to one of ESPN’s special segment “Blog Buzz” (Weintraub, 2009). Other shows on the network like “SportsNation” regularly use audience’s online responses to drive their coverage on news of the day with daily polls and fan commentary. This article was very valid as it showed how consumers are given the opportunity to have an interactive voice in the on air product, but it also presented information of how blogs have hurt local media organizations. Local television stations aren’t using blogs as much as the national networks, especially in the sports arena. Mostly because they don’t have the same resources, but also because they don’t offer the type of sports programming that would attract a wide audience by the Internet or blogging (Schultz & Sheffer, 2008). Now that consumers can choose how to retrieve and edit the same information currently provided by the media, the mass media has question its role in the information sharing process (Schultz & Sheffer, 2008, pg. 182). These authors used studies in the article that proved local viewers have more of an interest in other information such as weather segments at 72% and local crime at 65%, compared to just 31% for sports (“RFTNDF Journalism”, 1998, Schultz & Sheffer, 2008, pg. 184). This data has created a situation where more local television stations have eliminated their sports department altogether or given less time to sports segments in the newscast. Another reason this article found that local television isn’t investing in new media is because it threatened televisions stations bottom line. The authors pointed to local television’s need to drive their audience to the television screen, not the computer screen. Blogging increased the chances of losing their audience and revenue. I found the information in this article was very help to media organizations because it shows where and how you can make an impact with blogging, and where it won’t be as successful.
Blogging isn’t the only new media that has changed the landscape and connected the national sports media’s coverage with fans. The prominence of social network platforms, like Twitter have given journalist and fans another source and a better chance interact directly with the athletes. Journalists have spent time searching through various athlete accounts to find any leads they could use as evidence to help tell a story, no matter how valid the statement, or to even find a story that would otherwise never be reported (Hutchinson, 2011). The author said it has also helped them better understand what audiences’ and reading and are interested in. It provided them with the they chance to get real time feed back and see exactly what the consumers of this information said and how they felt about a particular topic. While Twitter has been an added tool in the media consumption process, it has caused issues of concern. Following tweets has made it difficult for reporters to follow and caused them to sacrifice time spent on their other journalistic duties (Hutchinson, 2011). The journal showed how athletes have used their Twitter accounts to completely bypass professional journalist. Hutchinson (2011) said that “Twitter is, in effect, being used for manifold purposes, including building and promoting the image of athletes enabling direct and instantaneous communication with fans, and attempting to control or at least influence the sports news agenda” (pg. 244). Examples were given of how in the past couple of years the content and context of athletes’ tweets have become a bigger story than the topic in which they were tweeting about. Overall this journal was very helpful in understanding the use and role of Twitter in changing how media organizations are using the platform to its advantage, but also a few of the disadvantage as athletes can now control what information reaches the public.
The growth of new media has made several traditional media outlets near obsolete, like print media. I found a couple of articles that showed how newspapers and magazines have drastically been affected and had to adapt because of new media practices. The morning paper is thinner because editors requested smaller game stories (Poole, 2009). Another author pointed to the success and popularity of sports blogs as an indictment against journalist writing (Ash & Hardin, 2011) insinuating that there aren’t any good talented writers out there. Poole (2009) gave another reason for the demise of print media, saying that many of the more stylish writers have moved on to high profile television and radio jobs and left the local newspapers behind. Further in his review, Poole stated, “the web has done to sports writing what it did to television, carved up the audience and exacerbated the more faster-better-mindset that cable TV began” (pg.19). These authors’ views were beneficial to understanding the negative effects new media is having on traditional media outlets. It also shows how new media practices are moving mass media further away from traditional forms of media.
In summary, this literature review showed how new media technology has changed how sports fans consume information. It also took a look at how members of the media have adapted to new ways to gather, distribute information and interact with consumers. Five resources were reviewed from topics of the acceleration of media sport culture to a more detailed account of how local television and print media has been left behind due to the new media practices. By presenting the information in this literature review, it pointed out the challenges and advantages with new media platforms moving forward.
Ash, E. & Hardin, M. (2011). Journalist provide social context missing from sports blogs. Newspaper Research Journal, 32(2), 20-35. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media database.
Hutchins, B. (2011). The acceleration of media sport culture. Information, Communication & Society, 14(2), 237-257. doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2010.508534
Poole, G.A. (2009). Back to the future. Columbia Journalism Review, 47(5), 19-21. Retrieved from http://www.cjr.org/essay/back_to_the_future_1.php?page=all
Schultz, B., & Sheffer, M.L. (2008). Left behind: Local television & the community of sport. Western Journal of Communication, 72(2), 180-195. doi: 10.1080/10570310802038507
Weintraub, R. (2009). Into the fold. Columbia Journalism Review, 48(2), 10. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media database.