Social media and sports journalism

Recently, I appeared on ABC Radio Canberra to talk about social media and sports and a press release was put out about some of the research I have done on the impact of social media on sports journalists. Below follows the press release and its original link is here

A link to my research papers is available here and the press release about this research is link number 10 of my journal articles

Press release written by Marcus Butler

16 June 2017: It’s one of the plum gigs in journalism, but even sports reporting isn’t immune to the increasing influence of social media in newsrooms around the world.

The rise of a variety of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has changed the way journalists work and sports reporters are no exception.

Long envied for getting paid to watch fixtures and mix with elite athletes and coaches, sports writers are now being forced to change the way they operate to remain relevant.

University of Canberra Assistant Professor of Sports Management Olan Scott, who has been researching the impact of social media on the sports industry, said the traditional gatekeeper role of the sports journalist has diminished.

“In the past, journalists would invest a lot of time building relationships with various teams, officials and players to gather information from these sources,” Dr Scott said.

“Now any information the clubs or athletes want their fans to know can be delivered to them via social media.

Dr Scott recently spoke about sportspeople and social media on ABC Radio Canberra, alongside former University of Canberra Capitals star Carly Wilson, and ABC sports journalist and commentator Tim Gavel.

“It builds a two-way relationship between fans and the sportspeople they follow, and that can lead to better ticket or merchandise sales. It can also expose athletes to more people, which may elicit more lucrative sponsorship deals.”

Dr Scott argued sports reporters must re-examine their role as a result of the digital revolution.

As part of his research, he has analysed the way sports journalists in China are using social media as a tool. He said a lot of the challenges faced by Chinese writers were similar to the issues facing journalists in Australia.

“Western Social media platforms are restricted in China, but as a country it still has the highest number of internet users in the world and its local social platforms, Weibo and WeChat, rank well in the top 10 for number of users,” he said.

“Some of the journalists who participated in the research told me they’ve even been directed by teams and athletes to get their information from the social media feed, rather than trying to schedule an interview.”

The adoption of social media is a reflection of the changing nature of the sports industry and the increasing need to convert fans into paying members and spectators rather than just casual consumers.

Dr Scott said when teams and players can engage directly with fans it increases their emotional investment in the club and also has the potential to boost their financial investment.

“Accessing your main supporter base directly cuts out the sports reporter ‘gatekeepers’, it short circuits their entire role,” he said.

“As in China, Australian reporters have to adapt to this disruptive technology. They need to be willing to analyse or critique team or player performances, which the club or athlete may be less likely to do themselves.

“It is crucial sports reporters draw on their accumulated knowledge to avoid the risk of becoming obsolete.”

The Impact of Social Media on Chinese Sports Journalists

Over the past few years, I’ve been involved in some research on social media in China. In my newest published study, the research team (Bo (Norman) Li, Steve Dittmore, and Sarah Stokowski and me) studied the impact of social media on Chinese sports journalists. The majority of our survey respondents noted that they actively used social media to monitor what was occurring in their industry and that social media had increased their workloads and work pressures. It was a great study to be involved in and working with Norman, Steve, and Sarah was great. The abstract and links to the article are copied/pasted below.

The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of social media in Chinese sports journalism. After distributing an online survey using a snowball sampling technique, a total of 133 Chinese sports journalists working in print media participated in this study. The results indicated that news gathering was reported as a primary motivation to use social media. Weibo and WeChat, two localized social networking tools, were the most commonly used tools among participants. Nearly half of participating sports journalists admitted that monitoring information on social media increased their pressure level and created workloads. The majority of sports journalists believed social media had weakened their gatekeeping role due to the increase in citizen journalists and the increase in channels and sources from which users obtain news and information. The study also found that the relationship between journalists and athletes has also been altered with the advent of social media.

Download article here: publisher, academia.edu, or researchgate.