Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Twitter & Sports Journalism

By Eric Pickhartz

Microblogging through Twitter has begun to dominate a certain genre of journalism, one that is using Twitter unlike any other genre. Sports journalists have been able to establish identities, connect with audiences, and surpass their less-connected counterparts in exposure, popularity, and attention.
However, their experience with Twitter hasn’t been without consequences, and the seemingly heinous act of “scooping the wire” has become a frequent criticism. But ultimately, Twitter and other forms of Internet communication are transforming the media world and shifting the traditional newsroom into something completely different than what was commonly known.

The sporting world has already taken over Twitter, and both fans and writers alike use it to communicate their ideas about the big game. Check out this article about the record-breaking Twitter action during last summer’s World Cup. Of course, there’s always the case of a reporter gathering a scoop, and being tempted to tweet the breaking news instead of going through the home site first. Read the Business Insider’s take on “scooping the wire.”

With so many options available to Twittering journalists, the digitally connected side of new media is adding an exciting element to the job at hand. A sports writer is able to comment, analyze, link, and wax poetic in a quick, succinct manner, which allows instant relationship building and interaction. Taking a look at how different sports journalists utilize Twitter will give better perspective on the booming phenomenon.

One way Twitter is used is to link directly to stories that are posted on the news organization’s home website. Here the New York Times sports section devotes tweets to a headline and a link to the story. The tweets are probably made by someone other than the writer of that specific story. This is a case of a news organization carefully monitoring the tweets, so that no story or breaking news piece is passed over on the main site and leaked through Twitter.

On the contrary, Bill Simmons from ESPN includes clever notions and jokes in his tweets, as well as carrying on back-and-forth conversations with fans and colleagues. He has received criticism and even been suspended from Twitter for a period of time for content in his tweets. Here’s a story about an angry message to a radio station and one on the humorous aftermath.

And of course, athletes themselves are now able to vent their thoughts in a viral, automatic way. Some worthwhile follows are Chad Ochocinco, Andy Roddick, and CJ Wilson.

Ultimately, Twitter is changing the scene in sports journalism, and will continue to do so in the future. It is a tool never-before imagined, and now allows journalists to express their ideas in a new, exciting, easy-to-digest way. Some use it for basic links, and some use it for more. Some have embraced the rules and some sidestep them with consequences. But before too long, all f them will be using it one way or another.

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