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.”

LESSONS OF PERSONAL ATHLETE BRANDING VIA SOCIAL MEDIA

Since 2015, I’ve been involved with some work in athlete branding, media management, and crisis communication with my colleague Thilo Kunkel of Temple University. The first of our publications was published in late 2016 about the work we have done with Michael Lahoud, who is a professional currently playing for Miami FC in the North American Soccer League (NASL). He was born in Sierra Leone, where he escaped civil war when he was six years old. As a refugee, soccer helped him to integrate in the United States of America, where he was drafted as the ninth overall pick in the 2009 Major League Soccer (MLS) Superdraft. He is a community advocate who uses his sport to support charitable efforts, such as The Wall Las Memorias project, the NoH8 campaign, and Schools for Salone. He was the Major League Soccer Humanitarian of the Year in 2010, and together with Kei Kamara, he is the recipient of the 2015 FIFPro World Players’ Union Merit Award (a prize worth $25,000), which recognized their involvement in the Schools for Salone project that builds schools in their home country of Sierra Leone. His brand is Soccer can make a difference. This interview consists of two parts, with the first part being conducted in December 2015 when he was a player of the MLS team Philadelphia Union, and the second part being conducted in July 2016 after two transfers within 4 months. The interviews provide an overview of his approach to athlete branding via social media, and its impact on his career.

You can read and download the full article here: publisher, academia.edu, or researchgate.

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.

Using self-categorization theory to uncover the framing of the 2015 Rugby World Cup: A cross-cultural comparison of three nations’ newspapers

In the context of international sporting contests, which typically attract great interest globally, the coverage of these events by newspapers help to define, influence, and sometimes reflect mainstream beliefs. Although media consumers have no influence over how stories are framed, editors and journalists can construct their narratives and stories to attract, maintain, and foster continued media consumption (Scott, Zakus, & Hill, 2014; Vincent & Crossman, 2012). Informed by framing theory, this study strove to investigate how two nations’ coverage of the Rugby World Cup (RWC) was characterised. Framing occurs as the media actively select certain aspects of an issue to report, affecting the understanding of the message people receive (Entman, 2007).

We conducted a content analysis of the newspaper coverage of the 2015 RWC in New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia and have recently had it published in the International Review for the Sociology of Sport. This study is currently in press at this journal and is available from the publisher, academia.edu, and researchgate.

Points of attachment on social media: exploring similarities and differences between Chinese and Western National Basketball Association fans

Recently, I was able to work with Dr Bo (Norman) Li and Dr Steve Dittmore on a paper to uncover how Western and Chinese sport fans, particularly those following the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team, ecome attached to the club. This study will be published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Sport and Social Science’s forthcoming special issue on Sport in China.

The full paper is available here: from the publisher, academia.edu, or researchgate. The full abstract appears below.

ABSTRACT

 

Given the availability and usage of Twitter, professional sport organizations attempt to embrace this emerging medium to engage with sports fans around the world. While many sports fans use Twitter globally, Chinese sports fans primarily embrace localized social media platforms, such as Weibo, to follow their favourite teams because many international mainstream social media services are banned in China. This study aimed to investigate the similarities and differences between Chinese National Basketball Association (NBA) fans and Western NBA fans in terms of their social media usage and points of attachment to a team with a global presence. The results revealed that Chinese digital NBA fans expressed higher dependence on using social media in their daily life compared to Western counterparts. In terms of sports fans’ points of attachment, Chinese NBA fans had higher associations with basketball, NBA players, and the NBA than Western counterparts, while Western fans perceived a higher attachment to the team.