Teaching Examples

Sports blogs: What up?
February 23, 2007, 12:56 am
Filed under: blogs, journalism, online, sports

So probably we should keep an eye on Deadspin, if this list of The 20 Most Influential [men, apparently]: [In] Online Sports is any indication of who’s who in sports journalism online. (Wow, Neal Scarbrough went to AOL? Happened in May.)

I went Googling around for sports blogs for a short while. I scanned though The Big Picture, which has a long interview right now with Dan Steinberg, a Washington Postie who writes the D.C. Sports Bog. It seemed pretty interesting — although that is quite hard for me to judge, as the only sports I care about are the Summer Olympics, the Tour de France, and any championship that has Gators in it. This probably explains why I don’t understand why anyone would read SportsBlogs Nation — I don’t mean any disrespect; it’s just that I don’t see the appeal. (CNet wrote a good article about SBNation back in January.)

What I do know is that sports fans tend to be fanatic about certain newspaper columnists — this is nothing new. It stands to reason that a sports columnist might take to blogging like a duck to water. But would that be true for any sports columnist? I’m clearly not the right person to ask.

In a recent post, Trevor Born of TwinsJunkie.com assessed the skills of a bunch of Minneapolis Star Tribune sports bloggers:

Over the past few months, the Star Tribune has made a blogging interface on their website — and it has turned out to be a great decision. The writers who have decided to blog themselves have made it work by actually putting in the time to write everyday, in addition to their hectic writing-for-print schedules.

It all basically proves that they know a lot more about their sports than a lot of people would like to give them credit for, and in addition they have access to things no on-his-couch blogger could ever dream up.

This is good news — I think. What led me to this topic (obviously way outside my area of expertise) is the idea that certain things can be “owned” by a newspaper. Traditionally, the columnists who follow the hometown teams would fall into that category. Nobody outside Minneapolis is going to follow the Twins as well as the local sportswriters do, yes?

Well, here’s the question about SportsBlogs Nation: Could it turn out to be a Craigslist for sports columns? If not SBNation, then maybe AOL Sports’ FanHouse. Because you don’t necessarily need the local newspaper. You just need a local, devoted fan who can write well.

Deadspin doesn’t look to be that kind of threat at all. It’s got a little basketball, a little NASCAR, and little golf … not the kind of team devotion that you see in a local sports column. And yet, it reportedly attracts 1 million unique visitors a month. Go figure.

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3 Comments so far
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Thanks for offering links to these online sports blogs. As a relative newcomer to sports blogging, I am interested in reading more on how (and what) sports reporters write online, particulary in blogs.

As a former sports reporter and sports editor, I have more than a passing interest in sports journalism. I read as much as I can in print and have recently started to scour the Internet for fresh voices and new insights on issues related to sports. Regular beat reporters and columnists are typically more informed than the average fan, whose commentary often reads like a poorly written letter to the editor. Too often, fan bloggers spend too much time debating who should start at quarterback or on berating the work habits of an athlete they have only read about elsewhere. Many posts on these regular fan sites read like rants heard on second-rate sports radio. (I find many average-fan blogs are all opinion and no research.)

The professional beat reporters have the most to say online. And professional columnists say it the best, using more polished prose and offering more reliable sources. These are the people we attempt to train in journalism programs across the country. Certainly, one does not need a journalism degree to be an excellent blogger, but some training sure doesn’t hurt.

That’s one reason I set up my sports blog (http://onsportz.blogspot.com), a site that probably was not published when you surveyed sports blogs. This site is dedicated to training sports reporters — high school, college (and any fan bloggers looking to improve.) Sports bloggers need to know how to interview, research and observe more carefully before they start writing online. You indicated as much when you dismissed certain sites in tonight’s commentary.

Frankly, I do not want to read the uninformed letters to the editor posted by so many sports bloggers. I prefer reading bloggers who offer compelling insights not offered elsewhere, who take on important issues, who break real news, and who address issues with passion, empathy and great skill. These are the blogs I want to read regularly. Thanks for revealing some of the more interesting sites to this new sports blogger.

Joe Gisondi
Assistant professor of journalism
Eastern Illinois University

Comment by Joe Gisondi

Two of my favorite sports blogs offer behind the scenes looks at making the images and then getting them into the paper. Both are coming out of the Seattle Times.

Photographer Rod Mar shows you his world from the best seat in the house (http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/bestseatinthehouse/). And sports photo editor Carrie Niland gives you the view on the other side (http://cnotherside.blogspot.com/).

Comment by m

Thanks for commenting, Joe and “m.” I’m interested to hear about additional sports blogs that readers like.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

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