Saturday, October 25, 2008

Reporters and SIDs: Tensions start early

Joe Gisondi writes in his "On Sports" blog this week about a study illuminating the ways college journalists and SIDs clash over access to players and over other issues. The study, published in College Media Review, reveals results of a survey of SIDs and college sports editors. Gisondi describes a gulf between the ways SIDs and journalists see their roles on everything from the ways journalists identify themselves to the tactics they use to secure interviews (such as using Facebook). The study seems to point to a couple of issues: The chasm between journalists and athletes/coaches at the college level (one that is sure to grow), and the need for formal training in ethics and professionalism for college sports journalists.

Why women don't stay in the profession

Michele Tafoya this week announced that she is dropping from her primary role as an NBA sideline reporter although she plans to continue some of her duties (including those with MNF) for ESPN.
Her reason: more time with family. It's not surprising -- our research shows that most of the time, that -- not glass ceiling or harassment-- is what prompts women in sports journalism to curb their careers.
The problem now, though, is that with the poor economy prompting buyouts and layoffs in TV and newspaper sports departments, we'll see even more women exiting to find more family-friendly careers. We could see diversity in sports operations continue to dwindle.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Covering college football: 'tough' business writer Ivan Maisel told students in a Penn State class that focuses on Joe Paterno and the Media about his weekly schedule covering college football -- one that includes travel sandwiched between radio interviews, podcasts, Web chats, plus reporting for his weekly column. The Web, he said, has turned college football into a year-round beat. He also described the ESPN campus in Bristol as one where 60-hour workweeks are the norm.
Maisel, who says he's been on the national college football beat longer than anyone, said he admires students who plan to enter sports journalism. "It's looking tough, but it's still so fun," Maisel said, adding that meeting people he admires and seeing positive examples of leadership helps keep him motivated.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Denial: A losing media strategy for athletes

Penn State professor Michel Haigh is interviewed on a blog posting today by Shaun Assael, author of Steroid Nation, about media coverage of athletes accused of doping. What she found: That denial of wrongdoing by athletes isn't met very kindly by journalists (or the public). Instead, the better strategy seems to be an apology, such as that issued by Jason Giambi.
Assael speculates that another less-effective strategy, however, could become more effective as fans begin to grow deaf to the steady drumbeat of sports scandals: that of "reducing offensiveness" -- or, simply put, positioning the bad behavior as not-so-bad. As Assael notes, if that happens, players like Barry Bonds may have a chance at career revival.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Converting HS football to revenue

I've written in a number of posts about the growing focus on high school sports as a revenue-producer for media properties such as ESPN and FSN. Although we've seen increased focus on high school sports by newspaper companies through focused Web sites and weekly tab editions, Gannett's new "Grid" may be the most ambitious multimedia effort. Gannett Broadcasting's VP for new media, Kerry Oslund, in an e-mail interview with Al Tompkins, described the effort to air football games across the country as a relatively inexpensive one, bolstered by help from Mogulus and
Talk about programming on the cheap with potential to deliver eyeballs from a national audience -- this is it. A ranking system of high school teams -- delivered by USA Today -- is used to promote matchups.
The question that must continue to be asked about this kind of broadcasting of scholastic sports is one that focuses on the real cost. How will the "big-time" framing of young athletes impact the academic mission of high school sports? How can we ensure that the problems plaguing college sports (written about in books such as Counterfeit Amateurs)don't transfer to the high school level -- where oversight beyond the district level is virtually nil?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

"Synergy 1, Journalism 0"

Steve Silafer's "On Watch" column in a recent Sports Business Journal argues that the traditionally cozy relationship between journalists and sports properties crossed the line in the over-the-top coverage provided to CBS Scene, co-owned by the Patriots, by a CBS affiliate in Boston. Silafer argues that in shilling for the restaurant, WBZ-TV jeopardized its ability to cover the Pats "objectively."
Although I appreciate Silafer's column, and I agree that with his concern, I'm afraid that his complaint about the "synergy" between journalists and sports teams that could compromise reporting is too little, too late. These kinds of relationships are part of the reason that sports journalism has traditionally been seen as the "toybox" and has not had a strong record of investigative, public-service reporting. There are many more points on the board for "synergy" than Silafer gives it -- and that won't change until the public demands it does.