What I Like About Sports Media- 2007

As I prepare content for Sports Media Journal, I thought it would be a good idea to let you to know where I stand when it comes to how the media covers sports.  (For more about the site, visit the About page.) This will be the basis of my point of view when I comment in the future.  As with all opinions, these points of view are subject to change…without notice.

Newspaper and Magazine Reporting: I like when reporters report.  Sounds simple?  It really is.  Too often sports reporters find the need to slip commentary into their stories from time to time.  Their job is to tell us what happened and interview those who played/coached the game to give their opinion on why they won or lost.  Period. 

I also like the notes columns.  These are the essence of print reporting.  Just sports…no spin.  This is not to say that reporters should not inject a sense of style in their pieces.  You can exhibit style in writing without the need to inject sarcasm, criticism, etc.

Columnists are the ones who give us their opinions.   They usually have earned the honor by first working the beats.  They should have enough experience through their beat writing to provide a clear, albeit subjective, opinion on the sports topics which they cover in their piece.  Many times these columnists cultivate contacts that result in exclusives the beat reporters wish they had.   I like insight based on research.  Many columnists are contrarians as a way to sell newspapers.  That’s fine, as long as they can back up their arguments.  I don’t like complainers.

By the way…despite all the technology we enjoy, I still love the feel of holding and reading the daily paper!  I hope it lasts forever!

Sports Radio: Like many of you I drive to and from work listening to sports radio.  Residing in Southern New England I can find many sports radio choices.

I like sports radio where the hosts talk sports.  Again, this sounds simple.  But there are some who feel the need to entertain rather than inform.   The games themselves are the entertainment.  Talk about the games and the people who play them.  I don’t want sophomoric attitudes and drivel along with it.  The best talk show hosts are the ones who give their opinions and mix in interviews and callers.  That is what sports radio is all about.  It is not meant to be flashy.  It is a niche industry.    If sports radio GM’s think they should be #1 in a market, then they are in for some disappointment.  That only happens in Boston.

Radio Play-by-Play:The one thing that drives me batty is, again, the need for announcers to entertain.  It’s a game!  Let the action do the talking!  I like radio announcers to accurately describe the action and for the analysts to tell us why a play developed a certain way.  Keep the sound effects and and catchphrases for your friends. 

Television Sports Reporting:You can probably guess where I’m going with this.  The greatest thing about Sportscenter is that they have so many resources to do a professional job that there is no need for the “Boo-Ya’s” to get in the way.  Show me the highlights.  Let the analysts tell me why a team won.  Give me the interviews.  ESPN has done a better job of late doing just that.

Local television sports reporting unfortunately has suffered because of the emergence of ESPN and the Internet.  I can’t tell you the last time I watched a local sports report.  That’s too bad.

Television Play-by-Play: I don’t need to repeat myself do I?  Good.

I like the technological innovations television has made in bringing more action to the tube.  Where would we be today with the “Fox Box”?  I find myself searching for it while watching the rebroadcast of the 1974 Rose Bowl.  How much time is left in this game! Yikes!  The first down marker and the placement of cameras in different locations to provide another point of view is fantastic.  High definition will soon take all of us to places we wish we were all along.

Sports Web Sites: The future (at least in the short run) is here.  If you do not have an Internet presence, you are not credible.  In terms of the sports reporting websites, all of my points made earlier apply as well.  Just because you use technology, doesn’t give you the right to become sloppy.  Being able to read about an event the instant it is over (or, in many cases now, while it is taking place through live blogging) is an information junkie’s dream.  Count me in!

What I envision will happen (and maybe should) is that newspapers with a web presence will soon be charging for content found in the hard copy version of the paper.  Papers claim they are losing subscribers because they get their information from the newspaper’s web site.  It is logical for them to charge for the right to read that material.  Before the web you had to buy the paper to read the columns.  Same thing here. 

Sports Blogging: The world of weblogs has made everyone potential citizen journalists.  I like the fact that anyone can use technology to spew forth their opinion on anything.  The corresponding dialogue (via comments) allows for interaction and debate.  I don’t like that these sites are sometimes viewed as “legitimate” reporting organizations.  When “news” breaks on these sites, it is usually concerning an athlete’s personal life.  On a rare occassion a blog will report a REAL SPORTS story, but usually it’s about an athlete having run-ins with the law; dealing with a drug problem; or facing personal issues at home.  Although these events can have an impact on a player’s performance, (or future with the team) sometimes they are best left for the gossip pages (see Tom Brady).

Sports blogs are what they are…a narrowcasting of opinion.  That includes Sports Media Journal. 

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