Friday, January 08, 2010

Sports Journalism, Athletes in for a Big Challenge, a leading gossip and celebrity news web site, has entered the sports media market, launching TMZ Sports at the start of the year. And if its recent coverage of the Gilbert Arenas story is any indication, established sports media outlets are facing a legitimate contender in this saturated industry. Already the web site scooped everyone from ESPN to the Washington Post by first reporting that Arenas does not have a license to carry the firearm he is accused of brandishing in the Wizards’ locker room, and that according to “law enforcement sources,” the locker room is monitored by surveillance video, making it a real possibility that footage of the incident exists.

As a gossip web site, TMZ Sports will have to prove its reporting accuracy in order to solidify a reputation as a reputable source for sports media news. But TMZ Sports isn’t just covering sports in the traditional sense; rather, it is building off what does well: gossip. In doing so, the web site is challenging unspoken agreements between athletes and media that private lives generally stay private. The site has held no punches in its Tiger Woods coverage, even posting grainy cell phone photos of Woods in various nightclubs, which directly contradict the pristine image Woods has worked so hard to create. In just a few short weeks, the site has posted everything from documents in Shaquille O’Neal’s divorce proceedings to pictures of baseball player Matt Kemp grabbing the backside of his girlfriend, Rihanna.

If TMZ Sports stays on this course, major athletes will have a major problem. Without a free pass from the media, the private, sometimes unsavory and always un-manufactured side of our “All-American” athletes will be on full display for the world to see. Considering that a carefully guarded image is critical for marketing (and financial) success, athletes have a real reason to be nervous: After all, if TMZ Sports been around 20 years ago, everyone’s favorite Nike pitchman might not have enjoyed such public admiration had stories and pictures of his now-infamous gambling habit been so readily available.

--Erin Whiteside

1 comment:

Joe Florkowski said...


There is something that TMZ and TMZSports does that you may not have thought about - and what they can do better than traditional sports reporters. The guys and gals at TMZ are trained at public records access, crime reporting, public access rules, etc.

The staff at ESPN are more likely to be trained at covering the locker room beat, getting comments from coaches, and being with the team. Usually if an athlete gets busted for a crime or other legal entanglements, ESPN has to bring in a legal analyst to help with the reporting.

I think that is where TMZ will have the advantage and is underrated. They really know their stuff (especially Harvey Levin)and because their target is to report on what happens to athletes off the field, they will always have the advantage over ESPN.