The recent Tiger Woods car crash created a media firestorm—and not just in traditional sports journalism outlets. Celebrity and sports blogs were on the story, as well, and the differences in coverage illustrated the changing sports media landscape.
While traditional media outlets continued to report the “official” statement released by Woods’ web site along with an interview given by the local police, gossip and sports blogs like tmz.com, gawker.com and deadspin.com used a litany of unnamed sources to tell a much more sordid story from the beginning, something Woods is clearly not happy about. After all, the golfer is known for taking great lengths to protect his privacy – and his pristine, non-controversial image.
Traditional sports media outlets have a lot to lose in covering an unflattering story about Tiger Woods – they need access to him in order to be successful, and risking that access has a high cost. Given some of the commentary from sports journalists advocating Woods’ personal life be off limits, it’s safe to say they are aware of those costs. But blogs like tmz.com or deadspin.com don’t need such access, and that separation gives them a freedom that other outlets do not enjoy. Journalism purists may not like the very flimsy attitude such blogs take toward ethics and journalistic standards, but one thing is for sure: these new media outlets are changing the way sports stars are covered – not to mention the dynamics and unspoken rules in the sports media industry.