Thursday, December 16, 2010

The sports beat: How much has it really changed?

The latest issue of Nieman Reports looks at the beat structure in news reporting and includes a special focus on sports departments. In a piece about the influence of new media on sports reporting, Curley Center Director Malcolm Moran writes that "competitive pressures are rewriting the rules" by challenging traditional practice in regard to verifying sources and ensuring accuracy. Lindsay Jones, a beat writer for The Denver Post, talks about how she aims to adhere to high journalistic standards even as she races to be the first on the story -- with her thumbs on her phone keypad -- via Twitter.
Not all has changed, however. In a story I wrote about the beat structure in sports departments, I argue that the infinite news hole created by new media hasn't really expanded coverage of women's sports, mostly because beat structures in sports departments haven't changed to allow it. In other words, the technologies may be new, and the challenges to reporters to get the story fast may be more intense, but the types of sports covered and the types of stories consumers get from media sources haven't really changed that much.
The bottom line: It'll take a lot more than technology to see substantive changes in sports media content.
--Marie Hardin


Anonymous said...

Good story. I'm sure there are countless sports editors across the country in complete agreement with Micco's observation and many more who wish they could even try to do what Anastasi's doing in Salt Lake City. But the past decade of newspaper economics unfortunately requires SEs to decide whether they want to rob Peter to pay Paul, so to speak.
It might be hard to quantify, but you might find more equality on high school coverage with smaller newspapers. Sure, there's no girls equivalent to football and wrestling in most places, but you'd probably find most smaller papers that rely primarily on their high schools for local coverage are more equal as far as dedicating space and resources to boys vs. girls basketball, baseball vs. softball, boys vs. girls soccer, boys vs. girls track, etc...

niamh said...

Coverage of women in sport has hardly shifted at all IMHO. I live in Ireland and you can easily read pages in any of the national papers without any reference to female athletes. It can be frustrating to produce work on those athletes and have it knocked back by editors - you wonder is it me or the topic?!

Just found your blog from WTS, thought-provoking.