The Need for Speed: How Readers Get News is Affecting the Way Sports Journalism is Reported and Written

Over the last ten years, the way fans get news about their favorite sports’ team has changed considerably. Gone are the days when people had to wait for the morning newspaper so they could read a sports article about what happened to their team. Today, people are getting news from different mediums.

What has replaced the old model of gathering news for printed newspapers is the increased role of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging. People want news as fast as possible. They want to know what’s going on all the time, so reporters and writers have to do everything they can to make that happen, or they’ll lose readers and interest.

In addition, digital media is a tool that’s becoming very commonplace with reporters too. They’re using phones or a personal camera to make video and pictures of their subjects.

The catch to this new form of journalism is that putting together a project with video, audio, pictures and a written story can be done fairly fast depending on the size, and it’s usually done by one person. Unlike writing for a printed publication, a reporter personally edits what he or she has, and uploads it almost immediately onto an online blog or social media platform.

This is the direction that sports journalism is going in. The use of social media, blogs and digital media has affected and changed the way sports journalism is written and reported on. It’s all about getting news out quickly and efficiently before anyone else does.

“[Blogs] also allows for immediacy,” said Paul Flannery, an NBA writer for the sports blog SB Nation and former Boston Celtics writer for sports radio WEEI in Boston. “When I used to cover Celtics’ practices, I would turn around the basic nuts and bolts of the day in a couple of hours, and that wouldn’t be the kind of thing that would show up in your newspaper until 16 hours later, but it would already be up on our site.”

What Flannery means by “nuts and bolts” is that he could post news quickly about what players were hurt, who was going to play in that night’s game, who was mad, and what quotes were being said in the matter of hours. That’s something, which is completely different and couldn’t be done by someone writing for a printed newspaper.

Chris Forsberg, a Celtics writer for ESPN Boston, is one of the top, young and up-and-coming sportswriters in Boston. He writes game analysis, and game reactions for his blog on ESPN Boston. He said social media has changed a lot in the way sports news is reported on.

“[With social media] it helps facilitate how quickly we can distribute the news because of the 24-hour news cycle,” Forsberg said. “Essentially you got news you don’t want to wait to put in the newspaper anymore. There’s no more waking up to the news. You got to get it out there quickly whether it’s through Twitter, blogging or Facebook so that people can react to it.”

In fact, Forsberg said one of the best social media platforms in general for covering the Celtics is Twitter.

“Everything goes through Twitter now regardless of whether it’s a reporter breaking a story or it’s a player saying something,” Forsberg said. “Reporters would’ve called us crazy if you told us 20 years ago that a lot of stories, or a lot of what the athlete is thinking, would come through this 140 character site. It’s always intriguing to watch.”

In addition, he said that the one thing that social media and Twitter has done is foster a great sense of community with readers.

“You now have to have an audience,” Forsberg said. “You put the news up and you not only tell people about it, but now you’re getting them to react to [it] and to get outsider opinion, which sort of [starts] the conversation.”

It’s also interesting to note that Forsberg said players might not always be straight with reporters on camera. Instead, they might post interesting tweets by voicing their opinion about an incident, or something that happened during a game. Tweets like that could lead to another story too.

Jimmy Toscano, a Celtics and New England Patriots’ writer for Comcast Sports Net New England (CSNNE) and a blogger for CelticsBlog.com, went along the same lines as Forsberg, and said Twitter is very important for a reporter.

“If you don’t have a Twitter account, I suggest you get one,” Toscano said. “That’s the first place to get news today. I have a Twitter account and I follow [a] wide range of people that I get news so quickly compared to when it’s up on a website. [Twitter] really is the first place to get news depending on who you follow and what type of news you’re looking for.”

Toscano continued by saying if a story isn’t ready to be published, but there’s important information to get out there then tweeting is important. He said having your name attached to breaking news is important, and it gives you a leg up on the competition.

Since news has to be constantly updated and put on the web regularly, many reporters are approaching interviews differently too.

Toscano said nowadays digital media has made it so that interviews are on tape or video only.

“No longer is it just showing up [to interview someone] with a pen and pad and taking a couple of notes of what a player says,” Toscano explained. “It’s common to see bloggers, and online reporters in the locker rooms after games holding up a video camera, and recorder to a player who’s talking.”

Toscano might be referring to Forsberg as the one who uses only a camera and microphone.

“A lot of veteran reporters make fun of me because I don’t have a notepad or pen when going into the locker room,” Forsberg said. “Nowadays I carry three things. I carry my cell phone, a video recorder, and an audio recorder. Essentially that’s all I need when I’m in there, because those tools allow me to tell stories differently.

Forsberg said that using his digital equipment over using a pen and notebook allows him to tell stories not through just words, but by giving people pictures, sights and sounds of what’s going on in that environment.

Despite how quick stories get put onto the web and how sports journalism is changing; editing and the quality of writing are still very important.

“There’s great responsibility when posting online,” Flannery said. “Your writing has to be clear and without mistakes and sloppiness. I think the best part of sports journalism on the internet is taking the old school values that you learned and applying them into a much quicker medium.”

For more of an inside look at sports journalism, take a look at this video below. Some of the top Celtics’ writers and a student speak about the ever-changing world of sports journalism.

Advertisements

Digital Media Project and the Celtics

For my final project, I’m going to try and interview Jeff Clark and some of his staff from celticsblog.com, a website that’s associated with SB Nation. They’re big on blogging, posting pictures and videos, and chatting about the Celtics. In fact, blogging is what made them real popular.

What I did was send out an email to them and hope that they get back to me. They also don’t have a contact number, so that’s the only way to get a hold of them. If CelticsBlog doesn’t work, I’m going to contact redsarmy.com. That site is similar, except they’re part of the blogging website called Yardbarker. My ideas for the project are the same for each website.

Analysis of SB Nation

SB Nation is probably one of the top sports blogging websites that allows fans to engage in and give their opinion on what they feel about their favorite teams.

To show they want to be one of the top blogs, they’ve literally, in the last week and a half completely overhauled their website to make it more visual and fan-friendly.

One of the reasons I like this blog is because the writers post interesting stories, game analysis and links on a regular basis. Meaning if I check every hour or so, I’ll see a new story or added links about my favorite team.

The best part of the site is that each sports hotbed region in the country has their own SB: Nation.

I visit SB Nation: Boston on a regular basis, and they have links to blogs for the Patriots (Pats Pulpit), the Celtics (CelticsBlog), the Bruins (Stanley Cup of Chowder), and the Red Sox (Over the Monster).

The way the blog is set up makes it simple to navigate. Even the old style of the website was simple. Dragging the cursor over a league such as the “NFL” will result in a drop down list popping up, highlighting all the teams in the league. That’s probably the best feature.

If you’re a visual person, you’ll like the new set up. On the main page, pictures highlight each new story and if you understand your team and players, then you’ll generally know what each article will be about when you see it.

The fan/author interaction is good too. Fans who sign up can comment on articles and the author of the article will usually reply back.

The downside of SB Nation is some of the simple features are gone. For example, when you visited CelticsBlog, all you had to do was scroll down to see all the stories. There was no highlighted story before. Just the story, the link and analysis of what was written.

Even the fan forums have changed. When you visited the site, fan posts were on the right hand side, but now you have to scroll down and highlight Community. In this section, there are three options Fan Shots, Fan Posts and Forums. I don’t know what the difference is between Fan Posts and Forums are as they both serve the same purpose. They need to eliminate one.

SB Nation was also mobile phone compatible before, but now it isn’t, or at least I don’t think so anymore. It’s picture-heavy so it takes a while to load, even on a smart phone.

In general, I don’t like the new design. It’s way too visual and the developers seem to have forgot about the blog part of the site. Like I said before, all you had to do was scroll down to see stories and a few pictures. Blogs are still the main point of everything, but it seems they’ve focused a lot more on the visual aspect.

Compared to other blogs such as Bleacher Report, this is the best fan blog site around.

Bleacher Report is similar, but doesn’t have a fan forum. It’s the fans who write. There aren’t any main writers that can be found on SB Nation. Instead, each team features the top writers as the ones who write and get the most page views. Each article that’s posted doesn’t have to be an article. It can just be a slideshow. In fact, many articles are just that.

Outside of SB Nation and Bleacher Report, there aren’t any other blogs that are similar to what they offer fans. There are blogs such as Ball Don’t Lie and Celtics Hub but most fall under major media networks and have writers with sources, credentials and who get paid a weekly salary.

Now if you want to read interesting blogs that are updated regularly and written by the same writers who have a good grasp on what they’re writing about, than look no further than SB Nation.

Five Basketball Blogs That Will Keep You Informed

If you like websites such as ESPN, CSNNE, FoxSports, and Sports Illustrated but want more, then take a look at these five interesting blogs, especially if you’re a Celtics’ fan!

Over the last few years, Yahoo! Sports has emerged as a leader in breaking sports news or reporting on interesting stories. It has earned such a good reputation that many of the best sportswriters in America have left newspapers to go work at Yahoo!.

Being a reputable website also led Yahoo! to create blogs for different sports. For basketball, the blog Ball Don’t Lie has interesting stories that range from announcing player trades or signings, to President Obama’s obsession of playing pick-up basketball games to catching up with past players such as Celtics’ legend Bill Russell.

There’s a little bit of everything.

Aside from this, many of the sportswriters for each sport have their own blogs too. Here fans can find blogs for NBA experts Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears who provide in-depth coverage of player movement and rumors.

If Yahoo! Sports is too broad with their coverage, then maybe SB Nation would satisfy a fan’s thirst for sports.

SB Nation is a site where everything is strictly blogs. This is a great site if fans want to get news for just the teams or region they live in. For example, there’s a SB Nation Boston with sites that follow under it for the teams in Boston such as CelticsBlog for the Celtics. SB Nation is a must visit for sports fans.

Like Yahoo!, NBC Sports jumped onto the sports blogging bandwagon as well.

It has ProBasketballTalk (PBT) and it’s a good site as it gives fans news from around the NBA, rumors, and articles on past and current players. The downside is the majority of articles are written by just one writer. However, it’s highly worth visiting, as it’s quite informative.

The last blog that will be highlighted is RealGM Basketball. There are good blogs here, as this site gathers all sorts of NBA news from the internet to form their articles. However, the highlight for this site is that all the current players in the NBA can be found in a database. For example, if you want to look up Paul Pierce and see all the news or stats regarding him; you click on his name and a page will come up with all sorts of information about his career. Another cool feature for this website is you can sort players out alphabetically, by team, position, or college etc.

These are just a few blogs that’ll interest you, but overall these websites will get you that basketball fix that you crave.

Photo (cc) by Will Brenner and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.