Are sports reporters meeting the needs of their audience?

It is important to begin by defining a sports reporter and give context to their role. Robert Lipsyte in his discussion on sports media gives multiple roles a fan, comic, expert, and investigator all are important to developing a reporter that does not narrow their skills but works towards developing a larger range of skills.

The more sports reporters equip themselves with different skills the better chance they have to not get stuck with the “toy department” label. Of course, readers are still looking for general coverage of the game, but where I think audiences needs are heading is away from neutral-voiced based writing and wanting reporters to add a little of their own voice.

I am not suggesting that sports reporters turn their writing into tabloids, but to begin giving readers a different perspective. It is very difficult to balance the scales of objectivity and giving a unique perspective, but this is a challenge that sports writers will need to tackle especially when working in smaller sports markets.

That might mean taking a risk like The Boston Globe’s Billy Baker who used twitter to creatively string a store together. Maybe for a sports reporter interlaying your tweets with highlights from the game. Or on a darker note, take a new approach to sports obituaries.

Also, it might be time for sports reporters to speak up in the newsroom and look to challenge themselves in the stories they try to pursue. Sports can be a vehicle for a myriad of subject manner if it is handled in the right way. For example, when the Travel Ban was first signed into action, the NBA had to deal with how that may affect players traveling in and out of the country. This was a perfect crossover story for sports reporters where they could work outside the toy department framework and look to garner a broader audience.

The platform that national athletes have now to express themselves is immense some players can reach millions through a small interview. Other news beats and readers look to sports writers to present them the news.

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Don’t get snowed in, get engaged!

I like to talk about a reporter who exemplifies the characteristics needed not to be snowed in online.

Bob Boilen host of NPR’s ‘All Songs Considered’  he has created and produced the Tiny Desk Concert series for NPR Music; hosting intimate performances at his office desk, with bands like The National, Ben Folds, Adele and Madison’s own PHOX.

What I find throughout Bolien’s work is his voice, a distinct personality when he is writing about music. Every writer has a style that comes off in his or her work, in one way or another, some journalist must keep their voice in the shadows to try to keep bias out. However, in the case of a music critic, his voice is arguably the most important aspect of their job. A reader will keep coming back to a reviewer, even if they disagree if it makes them think or feel. I respect Bob Bolien’s work because I can see that his opinions are his own and that he thinks out his ideas when he writes.

The way he expresses his ideas within his articles is worth of praise. I really admire the way Bolien communicates with the reader in his work, he makes easy to well constructed and easy to follow arguments.

Beyond this is his use of analytics to drive content is worthy of praise. As stated in the  journalism.co.uk written by 

Three types of analytics that are important to take into account when integrating analysis in the workflow…

  • Rudimentary – offers a certain amount of data, but lacks cohesiveness with newsroom organization and culture;
  • Generic – multiple analytics tools are used, but the newsroom’s structure and mindset are optimized for short-term results;
  • Editorial – bespoke tools, supported by an organization and culture focused on short-term and long-term data-informed decisions, and flexible to evolve as the industry changes

The Tiny Desk uses the editorial data they receive from NPR’s in-house analytics platforms to select artists that fit within their popular music content to perform.

But as stated in the Media Shift article Bob Bolien does a good job with community outreach. He tries to use his twitter account to engage with his audience to either share something he believes fits into his content or respond to audience questions.

In music journalism, there are a lot of voice all shouting “read me!” It is easy to get snowed in, but the saturated market does not mean you can’t carve out a niche for you develop your audience. Bob Bolien truly has created a loyal engaged audience base that is expanding as he makes smarter social media choices as he receives new analytic data.

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Tiny Desk Concert

Media Shift

journalism.co.uk