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We’ve all met that person (or, in lower moments, been that person) who has been the sore loser at a game light. They’re not popular people. They’re not people whom you want in your life. We mock these people.

Except when they’re athletes. Then, we celebrate them.


This is a fairly common philosophy – that sunlight is the best disinfectant, that we shouldn’t be afraid to listen to people we disagree with. And the engine driving this philosophy is the notion that, as Milton said, truth will eventually win.


How should the press cover athlete activists? What responsibility do sports journalists have when they no longer stick to sports?


Monday’s layoffs at the New York Daily News are cataclysmic for that city and for the industry. They feel bigger and worse because they hit the nation’s biggest media market and are shredding a proud and vibrant newsroom.


Last week’s series noted the changes to sports journalists’ day-to-day work routines, one routine that hasn’t changed is the daily deadline. The data suggest that the daily deadline remains the defining difference between newspaper journalism and online journalism.


Digital and social media and the journalism-as-process model are becoming more prevalent in the profession. Sports journalism is online now, starting on Twitter and ending with a story on a news organization’s website. Print, if not incidental, is just one part of the job now, rather than the focus. Sports journalists’ work routines appear to reflect this.

However, their norms and values remain rooted in print. Their loyalty to the idea of “the story” and their frustration at having to feed “the stream” of online information, is indicative of this split.


There was little to no differentiation to levels of fandom, whether or not a reader was a die-hard or casual fan. In fact, the interviews seemed to indicate that the journalists assumed fans were die-hard, that they were all watching the game or already knew the final score of the game. That attitude seems to shape sports journalists’ beliefs in how the job should evolve.


The interviews I conducted showed that editors are aware of what kinds of stories are popular online, when during the day they are popular, and on what platforms the stories are being read (desktop, tablet, mobile). This information is influencing story selection, in that editors are shifting coverage to reflect the audience’s online behavior and desires.


Reporters I’ve spoke about the expectations their editors have for them for publishing news online, being active on social media. At times, it was explicit. Two reporters said they knew they were being evaluated in part on their digital output, and another said that he knew if he didn’t post something online after his team’s practice, he’d get a phone call from editors. At times, it was implicit.


This new routine has brought sports journalism, at least in part, out of its night-shift cocoon and has integrated sports journalists into the rest of the newsroom. Their daily work, the things they are actually expected to do, is beginning to revolve more around the stream than the story. The story is something they are expected to do, but it is now only one thing they are expected to do. It is no longer the focal point of their day.