Thesis: Twitter on Sports Journalism

Pages: 10 (3209 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Communication - Journalism  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] He uses the example of a blogger named Nate Dunlevy, who runs an Indianapolis Colts site, and wrote a story about NFL writer Len Pasquarelli's claim that Colts' defensive end Robert Mathis was planning to hold out of training camp once the NFL labor situation was settled (Seth). Pasquerelli had quoted anonymous sources in support of his story, did not quote Mathis, and did not make any reference to attempting to contact Mathis. This was in direct contravention of normal journalistic standards. According to Seth, when one makes "a claim about someone, [one] owe[s] them the opportunity to respond" (Seth). However, it was Dunlevy, a sports blogger, who got to the truth in the story. He tweeted Mathis to ask him about his intentions and Mathis denied that he intended to hold out of training camp. Assuming that the Twitter account actually belonged to Mathis, Seth found this to be "a striking example of the way a simple web-based tool has circumvented the sports media establishment" (Seth). While not every athlete will respond to tweets from people, but Twitter creates an endless stream of chatter that leads to "athletes getting fed up with misinformation or misrepresentation and using their own means to get their message out" (Seth).

History

Given that Twitter is such a recent phenomenon, it is difficult to discuss its history in the context of sports journalism. In just five years, it has exploded as a phenomenon. However, it is worth noting that Twitter participation has been led by the players and the fans. Many sports journalists were initially reluctant to embrace Twitter as a means of communication with their fans. However, other sports figures, particularly the players, began to embrace the medium as a way to communicate directly with their fans. They did so, in part, as a way of giving themselves a way to respond to misinformation or their perceptions that people were spreading misinformation. Furthermore, many of the players are celebrities outside of their sports, as well as in their sports. They would use Twitter to tweet about social events or happenings as well as about their sports. Twitter problems were plaguing athletes early as well. "As early as 2008, pro and college players were being fined or suspended for their 140-character missives" (Klemko). These efforts to punish some players who misused Twitter did nothing to stop the Twitter phenomenon.

Present

Not only has Twitter changed who is reporting, but it also appears to have changed how people are reporting. Research by Sheffer and Schultz suggests that sports reporters have responded to the introduction of Twitter, not by using at a means of engaging in traditional sports reporting, but by making themselves more like the lay person using twitter (Sheffer and Schultz). According to self-reports by journalists, they say that they are using Twitter for breaking news and promotion (Sheffer and Schultz). However, when those tweets are subjected to independent analysis, it becomes clear that most of the content of the tweets is actually commentary and opinion.

Furthermore, as of this time, all prominent sports journalists are participating in Twitter. Michael Wilbon, a renowned sports journalist who worked for the Washington Post and currently works for ESPN, was the last hold-out in sports journalism. He "long avoided joining the social network, mocking the childish sounding site and professing to be above it" (Marcusa). However, in April 2011, Wilbon eventually succumbed to pressure from fans. First, with the creation of an account that posted quotes by Wilbon that had been made throughout the years, and were considered to be interesting, funny, or relevant to current circumstances (Marcusa). Second, Wilbon opened an actual Twitter account. The creation of a current Twitter account by Wilbon marks a shift in sports journalism. Wilbon's own quotes about the creation of his account, in which he expresses the desire not to tweet something that will end up getting him terminated from his position about a sport journalist, demonstrate an awareness of the danger of social media. However, the pressure for him to open a Twitter account demonstrates how much fans have come to consider social media part of the overall sports process. Fans want to hear his "thoughts on smaller and more intimate thoughts that normally wouldn't make a column or telecast" (Marcusa). More significantly, it demonstrates that social media has tremendous power in the world of sports. Someone posed the question, "If even Michael Wilbon, a man of repute in sports journalism, whose voice can be heard often and is easily accessible, opts for joining Twitter after years of openly refusing, then isn't it almost vital for all to use to stay relevant" (Marcusa)? At this point in time, it certainly appears that the answer to that question is "yes."

Future

Like it or dislike it, the reality is that Twitter is not going anywhere anytime soon. That Twitter is not going anywhere means that people can continue to expect athletes, coaches, and other sports figures to continue to misuse the medium. "What coaches, teams and leagues are scrambling to figure out, is how to deal with a medium built upon spontaneity" (Klemko). Twitter's intentional design was to permit easy communication between people, with edits, second drafts, or possibly even a second thought" (Klemko). Moreover, a looming lack of understanding about the power of social media makes people prone to making mistakes. They say things that they would not say in one-on-one scenarios or otherwise in public, but will post it in public, anyway.

The future of Twitter resides in educating athletes and other sports figures about the appropriate use of the medium. College-level athletes may already be vulnerable to having their social media monitored. "College programs that wish to keep tabs on students without banning social media are turning to companies like UDiligence, which provides software that monitors Facebook and Twitter accounts, scanning for images or terms that could bring scrutiny upon players and programs" (Klemko).

On a professional level, with personal computer usage, such a program would be less realistic, and probably not appropriate when monitoring adult communications. However, sports teams are taking concrete steps to prevent inappropriate communications by team members. They fine, suspend, and otherwise punish people for inappropriate tweets. Whether or not this behavior is permissible is a question to be answered in the future. There are certainly people concerned that monitoring someone's Twitter usage in that manner has First Amendment implications, though the First Amendment technically only protects people against government infringement of freedom of speech.

One thing that is almost certainly in the future of Twitter is that it will have a volatile relationship with the sports figures that use it. Figures tweet regrettable things and often find themselves withdrawing from the media. This happens to people in other contexts as well, not just sports celebrities. People hire ghost tweeters, and it is not unheard of for a celebrity to hire someone to manage Twitter accounts. One can expect that Twitter management will become an emerging field in the entourages of sports figures.

Leagues are also wary of what the future holds for Twitter and athletes. "The risk is something teams and leagues are struggling to come to terms with. More than half of NBA players have Twitter accounts…in the NFL; more than 1,000 players spread across 32 teams maintain active accounts" (Klemko). In other words, the future guarantees that leagues are going to have to come up with comprehensive programs to deal with Twitter use by athletes or to suffer the consequences of out-of-control tweets.

While continued Twitter use is inevitable, it seems equally inevitable that Twitter users are going to grow more sophisticated in their use of the media. Right now, the social networking phenomenon imparts a false sense of intimacy which makes people more likely to make statements that they would not make in public. However, that false sense of intimacy is likely to decline. The likely result is that, while there will still be occasional tweet mistakes, the open communication about reasons behind lockouts or with players criticizing coaches, owners, or teammates will decline. Tweets will become progressively more managed, making them less like real-time communications and more like carefully crafted press communications. When this level of caution occurs, the need for professional sports journalists will be apparent once again.

Conclusion

It is impossible to deny that Twitter has helped change the landscape of sports journalism. Once confined to carefully orchestrated locker-room or press-conference exchanges between a small group of media and athletes, managers, and owners, modern sports reporting has become a real-time conversation between players, fans, and other people in the sporting world. In many ways, this has increased transparency, and let to a greater range of information for the sports fan. In other ways, it has led to an overabundance of information. Sports figures use Twitter as a means of spreading personal opinions that may be in conflict with their perceived roles as sports… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Twitter on Sports Journalism.  (2011, December 2).  Retrieved September 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/twitter-sports-journalism/4012820

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"Twitter on Sports Journalism."  Essaytown.com.  December 2, 2011.  Accessed September 20, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/twitter-sports-journalism/4012820.