Social Media

What’s Right and What’s Wrong with Sports Media- Online Resources

In the final installment of what I think is good and bad with sports media I’ll take a look at how sports media is using online resources to get out information.

Not much has changed on how traditional media organizations have covered sports online.  The only thing that is new since 2007 is more of them are employing the use of multimedia (video, podcasts, etc) on their sites.  That’s a good thing.

I am disturbed by a trend I’ve seen develop that I feel is bad for sports journalism.  What I’m talking about here is the sensationalizing of sports news.  Those of you who have read SMJ know that I am a traditionalist when it comes to the coverage of sports.  There are more websites available today whose mission it is to find dirt on athletes.  I understand gossip sells.  Those sites have every right to conduct business.  (God Bless America!)  It doesn’t mean I need to embrace it or condone it.

I continue to maintain that everyone is entitled to privacy, whether they are in public or not.  Seeing a sports star in a bar with a beautiful young lady means little as to how that person performs on the field.  Criminal activity and/or league investigations of off-the-field indiscretions do warrant coverage.  Seeing Aaron Rodgers at a bar is meaningless to me.

What troubles me more than the sensational reporting is how traditional news outlets run with these stories for fear of losing its audience.  Even though he has since changed his tune, what Buzz Bissinger said in 2008 on HBO to me holds true today.  Many of these gossip sites cater to the lowest common denominator of our society.  There is no redeeming value in its publication.   My greatest fear is that the younger generations, when asked where they get their “sports news”, will reference one of these gossip websites.  How can this be good?  (Off soapbox)

There is no doubt that the biggest impact in the online coverage of sports is the use of social media.  The 24 hour news cycle is not partitioned into minutes and seconds by the use of social media platforms.  More reporters and the athletes they cover are taking their message to the people in short, consistent spurts.

Facebook has well over 600 million users.  However I don’t use it to get my sports news.  I use it more to get in touch with family and friends.

Twitter, however, is an information junkie’s elixir.  I get more information from Twitter than any other source.  With that said Twitter does have its drawbacks.

First, if you are a reporter and tweet as part of your job…get separate Twitter accounts for personal and professional use.  I must say that when I see a personal tweet from someone I follow professionally,  I cringe.  I have multiple Twitter accounts.  My SMJ account deals with sports media news.  I have a separate account where I tweet my personal thoughts and follow close family and friends.

I understand the usefulness of hashtags in categorizing tweets.  But I think the Twitterverse has evolved into hashtag overload, coming up with tags that are meaningless to the topic.  For example, let’s say I’m following a story on Twitter about the NFL labor negotiations and one of the hashtags is “#isntthisacrazyworldwelivein” (I made that up, but I’m sure it exists). What relevance does that have to to the story?

The last thing that I hate about Twitter, regardless of whether it’s my personal or professional account, is when people feel they’re the sole or most reliable source of information on any issue…including big sporting events.  Few things are as annoying to me as when I read “Jordy Nelson, TD Packers” during the Super Bowl.  Do people really think I’m monitoring your feed to get updates on football’s biggest game of the year?   The best use of Twitter play-by-play are of events that are not being viewed by millions of people.  Don’t be afraid to take a Twitter break every now and then.

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That sums up my week-long look at what I think is right and wrong with sports media in 2011.  It’s just one man’s opinion.  Shoot me some ideas as to what you’d like to see covered here at SMJ.  Thanks for listening

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ESPN and Social Media Policy- A Case of PYA

There are quite a few people all a-twitter today about ESPN…and Twitter.

The news broke yesterday afternoon that ESPN had instituted a new policy for employees when it comes to their use of social media.  SMJ buddy Ken Fang gives his opinion and has the ESPN memo over at Fang’s Bites…

Those out there who savor every morsel of opinion on Twitter and other social media outlets may be disappointed over the new ESPN directive, but lets look at it from the WWL’s corporate point of view.  ESPN is looking to protect its brand and content.  And it’s entirely appropriate for them to do so.  Their policy is no different from any other a company creates to ensure that employees remain dedicated to the place where they draw a paycheck.

I’m sure companies in other fields have similar social media policies in place to protect against the leak of trade secrets and inter-office policies and procedures.  Even the leaking of such a social media policy could be in violation of it!

Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media have added a level of communication that has become an integral part of people’s lives.  I, myself, cannot get through a day without peaking at my TweetDeck account periodically.   I use Twitter to cross promote posts here at SMJ and periodically (sparingly, really) tweet in response to what I read.  I do not want to waste people’s time telling them when I go to the water closet.  (Speaking of which, I love following those of you I do on Twitter, but some of you really need to take a break from time to time.)

ESPN is smart in trying to make sure that the use of social media benefits their mission.   And for those of you still peeved about not hearing from your ESPN Twitterers,  Ken Fang wrote on Twitter early this morning (Get some sleep, Ken);

I’m thinking when this whole ESPN/Twitter thing sorts out, that the Tweets will be allowed, they’ll be posted at ESPN and Twitter together.

Just ESPN protecting its ass.

Added:  Chris Byrne summarizes the argument well over at Eye on Sports Media.