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Social Media In Sports Essay

effect of media on sports

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influence of mass media on sport : Influences of Mass Media in Sport When communication is spread not just between two individuals but rather between tens of millions of people it is known as mass media. Mass media is known as the central nervous system of society. "Mass media has many different purposes, such as providing information, entertaining, persuading and also by carrying a vague general function of culture to millions of people."(Frederick 18). In order for mass media to exist, there must be an audience. Today's society is very selective; each receiver reacts differently through his or her own experience and orientation according to mass media. Therefore, mass media exists in many different forms such as magazines, television, newspapers, internet, motion pictures, and even plays.

Some examples of these forms of mass media are cosmopolitan magazine for young modern women and TSN television network for sports fans. With such extreme varieties of mass media existing in today's societies there are three major constraints that seem to have an impressionable impact. These constraints can keep mass media very restricted. The major constraint of mass media is competition. Each form of mass media wants to be the one to target the audience, so therefore competition between mass media is very strong, because capturing the inside of the sports world is critical. Apart from the competition among the various forms of media there is also competition among each form of the media example Fox network competes with all television networks for a market share of the audience.

Network companies such as Fox buy the contracts to show American football games for millions of dollars, which they in turn make their money back through companies wanting to advertize on their network during these football games. The audience Fox attracts by showing these games also provides an audience for companies wanting to advertise their products and provides potential customers for their products. This life cycle exists in all forms of media apart from just television, newspapers try to cover the best stories in all areas of life from tradegy to sports and entertainment. From a sociological stand point in today's society sex and violence attracts audiences. By examining the internet, which is the newest form of mass media internet companies that provide the most outrageous websites with sex and violence are the most watched websites. Media Companies compete with each other on those levels by looking at what attracts the most attention and trying to provide it.

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Although the audience are the ones who decide what information is important and this decides what groups of mass media get the most attention the influence of the media in today's world really guides them in helping them make that decision without their actual knowledge. If your story isn't important to the audience then your media is taking up space, so therefore you either have to produce what the audience wants or you will not be able to survive in the competitive world of mass media. In order to survive in society you must offer the general public information they are interested in. Money also puts constraints on what an individual gets to know. If a person can't afford to buy a television that is restricting them on the knowledge that they are able to consume. Also, companies run on budget plans, and if there is no money in the budget, they are unable to provide information to a society.

For every story that is produced, or every television commercial aired that could have been many more, to follow. But with limited money in the budget plans, an audience's view also becomes very limited, because if the media doesn't have the money to produce the information that is information that a society loses out on. Time is also another constraint because is doesn't make a difference on the amount of media there is, there will only be twenty four hours in each day and not all a person's time can be devoted to the effects of mass media. With the consideration of all these constraints this may create many difficulties for mass media, these difficulties will have a reflection on society as well. In media these constraints are known as noise. "All media within each other create noise, but with all the conflicting views, within lies a pattern, that shows some element of truth." (Frederick 10).

The purpose of this paper is to state how mass media influences sport. The point that is being made in this paper is to show how mass media influences society, and how it influences sports within a society. To show how sport influences society, the game of basketball will be used. Mass media is a reflection of society. "Mass media are essential agents of social change, and the specific kind of social change they are expected to help accomplish in the transition to new customs and practices, and in some cases, to different social relationships." (D'seuza 27). Also agents of social control exist.

As a result of all these alterations a significant change in an individuals attitudes, beliefs, skills and social norms may result. Before the existence of radio, mass media were barely existent except in print. But with all the developments in technology mass media continually progresses, in many different directions. Different individuals are selective in the way that they let mass media influence their lives.

For example, if a person decides to read a book they are getting to determine what aspects of the mass media they consume. "Books are the most individual of mass media." (Frederick 156). But when a person watches television it is not as personal as reading a book, television is built into society. " Television's commercial and entertainment emphasis both reflect and affect the hedonistic and acquisitive nature of contemporary America." (Frederick 264). With the constant production of commercials and varying types of entertainment there seems to rising controversy throughout society. Mass media has many positive effects on many people, in countries such as India, mass media had made a tremendous change.

People in rural communities are now able to communicate back and forth, children of this country are now able to obtain and expand on their education, there are continuous improvements in their health care system and even modern agricultural techniques are being developed. These results of the mass media in India have had many positive effects on their society. But not everybody agrees that mass media has had a positive effect, some believe that it has damaged societies beyond repair. Since mass media has such an overwhelming influence on society, it may end up shaping the way and individual thinks.

A good example of this is through advertising. "It is advertising, by large, that supports the United States' pervasive and extraordinary diverse mass media system. Advertising major focus is the better you display a commodity the more of the commodity you sell. The private sector gives the advertising industry the money to sell their products, and the company that offers the most capital is the one who gets their product aired. This is where one of our major constraints, known as, competition comes into play. Whatever company holds the most capital decides what we as a society get to consume.

Advertisers will say that they produce what the consumer demands but on the other hand they are putting many limits on what we get to consume. With the constant growth of mass media many individuals have been offered tremendous opportunities. This paper will use the influences of mass media in the world of sports, too show examples of these opportunities. Both the positive and negative effects of the mass media will be outlined.

The first reported Sports Coverage appeared on May 5 1733. Reporters used to report on the philosophy. Electronic media: (i.e. type written stories), started to be used in 1850. In the 1920's radio stations started to broadcast sporting events live. Experimental Television broadcast where started in the 1950's.

Sports Illustrated prints an average of three million copies per week. "Sport has become an influential part of the entertainment industry, the mass media (particularly television) have become intimately involved in the growth, production, and control of modern sports." ( McPherson 146). "The term mass media provides information describes the process that allows people to communicate rapidly and simultaneously with a large percentage of the population." ( McPherson 146). In our society sports are a major part of a new mass culture, as well as popular music, movies and television shows. Most people watch sports through the television. People also follow sport thought magazines and radio.

From watching the television programs and reading the reports our society learns to love and/or hate the sports icons in our world. The media does not seem to hold anything back. Media coverage is not just limited to professional sports. They cover amateur sports as well. These sports are covered at a local, provincial and national level.

Coverage is from anywhere from little league to college sports. We as a society like to know all the information about our sports heroes. The mass media is more then willing to provide us with this information. Sometimes they provide more information then most of us want to know.

The boundaries of people's personal privacy are denied. They find out the history, family background, current lifestyle etc. of these players. There are not to many other people in our society that this happens to. These players most feel that there privacy is being invaded almost all of the time.

This is not just isolated to sports figures, politicians and key public figures are in the spotlight as well. Most major sports clubs pay reporters to report on their teams. By doing this it protects them so that the reports will report on the positive aspects of their teams. The negative aspects are toned down to some extent. They need to provide some negative aspects because if they didn't they then a lot of people may lose interest.

An example of this is that you don't see as many highlight reels of home runs anymore. They want to promote the game as more of technecical product The media chooses what they report or do not report they enhance certain act and downplay others. People perceive the media as just report in the facts. In actuality they are report a narrated story that someone has composed. As Alan and John Clarke said: "It selects between sports for those which make "good television", and it selects within a particular event, it highlights aspects for the viewers.

This selective highlighting is not "natural or inevitable - it is based on certain criteria, certain media assumptions about what is 'good television." But the media not only select they also provide us with definitions of what has been selected. They interpret events for us, provide us with frameworks of meaning in which to make sense of the event. To put it simply, television does not merely consist of pictures, but also involves a commentary on the pictures-a commentary which explains to us what we are seeing ...these selections are socially constructed-they involve decisions about what to reveal to the viewers. The presentation of sport thought the media involves an active process of re-presentation: what we see is not the event, but the event transformed into something else-a media event." ( Eitzen 98-99). Sports media has it's own language.

This language is both ethnically and gender focused. When people are reporting sports events they report differently male then female players, black then white players, just for some examples. Most white players receive performance; related comments directed towards them. On the other hand black players receive negative comments and also you also hear negative comments about their level of play. "White players received more attention in replays and more excuses for mistakes (e.g., he is playing with an injury)" (McPherson 155). While a black player they might say doesn't possess the skills and that is way they couldn't compete.

The media portray women in the sports society as not being the equal to men. More attention is focused on male sporting events. If an advertiser is going to fund a female basketball game and or a male basketball game then the money would be mainly directed the towards the men's game. The advertiser has to go to the event that is going get the most viewers. "If women are portrayed less frequently than their participation merits and if stereotypical or negative themes are stressed when women are included, this may have an impact on the socialization of young girls' and boy' view of women's sport."(McPherson 155).

If we do not promote young girls to follow their dreams, not only in sport but: in every part of life then they may be missing out on something. When we do this it may discourage young girls to play sports. Because for so many years our society has told women and girls that they could not play sports or at least could not play them as well as men. This theory has been disproved over the years.

The media is starting to release this and they are now focusing more time then they did to women's sport. They are televising women's basketball, tennis, golf, etc. more often. The part that still needs to be focused on again is the commentary. People would suggest that all commentary is equal i.e., black and white athletes as discussed earlier. Commentators tend to portray female athletes as the lesser/weaker of the two genders.

In women's basketball gender is marked both verbally and graphically. The NCAA final four is a prime example; the men's final is known as and presented to us by the media as "NCAA FINAL FOUR". Where as the women's final four is presented to us by the media as "NCAA Women's Championship". In actuality they are both the final four but the media has created "NCAA FINAL FOUR". This (the men's final four) is the most viewed college tournament of the year. If they differentiate them then they can focus on the markets they want to.

The men's championship they are going to focus mainly on males 18 to 22 years of age. This way they can gear their advertising accordingly. The media control sport in the fact that the teams and organizations depend on the media in order for them to survive financially. During major sporting events changes are made to appeal to the television audiences, some of these changes are; sudden death games, scheduling evening games, broadcasters to entertain instead of just report facts, TV time outs, more media representative at Olympics then competitors. Sponsorship in the sports world is huge, Companies pay unbelievable amounts of money to teams as well as to players to promote their products. These companies may choose a player as a child and follow their career to help boost their sales in their products.

The media helps create a link between the players or athletes and their audience by showcasing these athletes in programs even outside their playing arenas. The players are presented as gods or icons to the audience which makes these sporting events even more popular. Promoters use marketing ploys "like to be best you need to wear what the best wears". Children then go to their parents and express the desire for these items.

The mass media are the main sources of capital for sports teams, college as well as professional. They dictate when and where games are going to be played and also decide which teams are going to receive the most attention by the audience who are the viewers. It is not by chance that "Monday Night Football" is on at that particular time because . This gives the promoter the choice to focus on their niche market. I'm sure the players don't want to play on Monday night at 9:00pm. If you are a promoter it doesn't matter to you, you go where the money is.

In a sense this make the players puppets for the promoters. Careers of players can also be affected by the mass media. Dennis Rodman would not be the person he is today if the mass media didn't dive into every facet of his life. He loves the show and the media promotes his performance on and off the court to the public. Basketball was invented as a recreational sport, but now considered a universal sport. The introduction of this sport to the rest of the world started in the late nineteenth century as a form of recreation.

Universities began incorporating this new recreational game into their sporting activities and were considered a male oriented sport. Women were not recognized at the time as basketball players even if they had an interest in the sport. Throughout the years basketball was transformed from a recreational sport into competitive sport and the players competed for a prize which in its early existence was a trophy or medal. The media in all forms such as television, radio, Internet and newspapers never took an interest in the sport until the end of world war two. At the time people's interest in the sport was growing rapidly mainly because of the transformation of the sport from a recreational sport to a competitive sport. Universities and private businessmen who spotted the potential success of the sport invested their capital in building stadiums for athletes of the sport to compete.

In the early 1950's professional leagues were starting to develop across the United States as more private business men realized profits in relative terms meaning essentially the profits made were considered great in that time period. At the time the main form of media in households across the United States was the radio and newspaper few households had televisions and live coverage of games were seen by a few. The rules and the format of the game had to be changed to make the game more interesting to fans of the sport and many sports historians contribute basketball transformation over the years to the media involvement. Media coverage of sporting events such as basketball grew dramatically as more and more households had both radios and televisions. In fact the television a medium contributed the most to the transformation of basketball. The media has shaped the public's opinion on basketball and through the media people seem to have a more profound interest in the sport of basketball.

In the early years of basketball's introduction to the western world the average age for men to participate in the sport was 17 years old now boys and girls start from the early age of 7 years old. The participation level in the sport was heavily influenced by the media, the sport which was label a male sport has now seen a drastic increase in women participation over the years due mainly to media attention and coverage. In the 1950's and 1960's athletes competing in the professional leagues of basketball did not even make enough money sometimes to support themselves and had to find other jobs part time to generate a better source of income. The main mental frame of mind of athletes in that sport in the 1950's was winning. Today with media coverage and the average life span of a players career increasing most players in their early years try to make money through endosments and large contract deals and do not concentrate on the main goal of a competitive sport which is winning until the later stages of the career when money no longer becomes an issue.

In the NBA, media coverage has increased the capacity of "fans" for teams mainly due to the fact that the invention of television and other technological advancements which attempts to bring the games and players into the households. People no longer have to attend games to be considered a fan of the sport or cheer their favorite team or player. Fans of the sport can enjoy the entertainment of a basketball game in the pleasure of their home which in sense could be considered better than actually going to the game live because it is much cheaper than going to the game. Media coverage of basketball extends further than just the NBA to high school, NCAA (collegiate basketball) and both sexes male and female are showcased nowadays, although basketball was considered a male sport. The media attention on women's basketball has actually increased women participation in basketball and could be considered the main contributor to the expansion of women's basketball although women actually fought against sexism in basketball the media really helped their expansion efforts. The media has really expanded the game of basketball to international arenas and countries have now established their own leagues, which are actually competitive with American leagues such as the NBA and CBA.

Media in all forms has created such an audience for the sport of basketball countries with established leagues compete for players with the NBA although they probably don't get the best players as yet but the growth of these leagues show the potential to reach the status of the NBA some day. The media could take full responsibility of creating the growth of basketball in the world, most schools and government programs that provide recreation for children and adults build basketball courts, which shows the growth of the sport, which is as a direct result of media, attention. To really evaluate the effects of the media in sport focusing on basketball the positive and negative aspects should be analyzed. Some of the positive and negative aspects of the media on the sport of basketball are mentioned below. POSITIVE effects of the Media 1. The media has given the sport exposure to a much larger audience than just the people in attendance at the games.

This means people who like to watch the sport but can't afford to go to the games live can watch it in their home or listen or read the results of the game in newspapers or on the Internet which is also an extension of the media. 2. Media attention on the sport has created such a financial market for the sport universities and high schools have basketball programs which gives children who excel in the sport and cannot afford post secondary education a chance to attend university and a possible career in the sport. Athletes are now recognized for their abilities and are given scholarships and grants to attend university, which is a result of the media giving exposure to the sport. 3. The media has expanded the women's equality struggles into the sport of basketball by giving women exposure in the sport as actual athletes and not their traditional roles women were thought of as the cheerleaders of the sport.

Girls growing up can now identify with female athletes in basketball as role models and encourages them to participate in the sport. 4. The media caused players of the sport particularly on a professional and collegiate level to have discipline and morals mainly because of the exposure the media gives these players to "fans" which causes them to be considered role models. 5. Basketball's growth on a financial aspect is a direct result of the media, in the past the salaries of athletes in the professional leagues are non comparative with the salaries of the athletes today, because the media provides a larger audience which provides revenue to teams and players get a share of this new wealth. 6.

Basketball players are now seen as role models through the media and people try imitating their basketball heroes to the extent players with charismatic personalities and excellent basketball skills are paid to endorse products. Such basketball players such as Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Grant Hill to name a few are seen as heroes to people and given contracts to endorse products. NEGATIVE effects of the Media 1. The media attention on players' lives goes beyond the basketball court and goes into their private lives which gives players no privacy.

The media forces athletes to live as almost a saint status and the media scrutinizes their every move. Professional athletes have limited public access because they are not considered normal citizens. Recently Kareem Abdul Jabbar was arrested for smoking marijuana while driving and the media exposed such a private aspect of his life to the general public. Michael Jordan was accused of having a gambling problem because he went to a casino and lost 2 million dollars which is a lot to an average person but pocket change to him. 2.

Basketball players especially on the professional level are considered above the law as a direct result of the media because their status puts them into a different category than the general public. When Latrell Sprewell choked his coach his case was treated differently than a normal person doing that same crime his punishment was much less severe than a normal person. There are other positive and negative effects of the media on basketball but it is actually worth noting the growth success of the sport is a result of the media attention it has received in the past and present. The media is a positive influence on sport in general and some negative effects must be present since nothing in the world is perfect without any side effects or negative effects.



How Technology Has Changed Sports Writing

 

ABSTRACT: Very much as with other aspects of publishing, data and digital technology has fundamentally transformed how we publish about professional sports. Over the past ten years technology has affected how fans watch professional sports, how fans interact with professional sports and professional athletes, and how people publish about sports. This paper explores how the technological changes around how we consume sports has affected the ways which we publish content about sports— in social media, journalistically, and digitally.

To no one’s surprise, in the 1990s sports fans had to look to their local newspaper to get the latest game scores. Since the commercialisation of the internet, the amount of sports critics and news updates published digitally has exploded. Of course newspapers still have sports sections — which are now online as well as in print. Ronald B Woods reports that the changes that have happened over the past ten years because of the presence of the commercial internet are reminiscent of how our interactions with sports changed in the 1950s when televisions started to be found in most homes. Woods states that the business model for sports broadcasting on tv was

 

“to schedule programs and events at certain times and expect a mass audience to view them. However, the advances in technology in the last 10 years allow people to record any program and replay it at their convenience using TiVo or similar technology. Of course, people can also skip the advertisements if they wish, fracturing the business model that has been in place for over 50 years.”

 

If we inject the internet into this model, people can watch highlights whenever and wherever they want and keep up with their favourite teams on the go. The TSN app shows you the live scores, highlight videos, and after-game interviews. All on one app!

 

So this thing, the internet, has taken something a journalist would have to write up and publish in a newspaper, and made it obsolete. These sports apps, and their websites,  give fans the content quicker, more concise, and curated to just the sports (or teams) that they want to pay attention to. If you watch TSN SportsCentre on television, you will receive information about all the professional sports going on in North America at that time. If you are a hockey fan, you will have to sit through the basketball highlights, the golf highlights, and the tennis highlights until the sports analysts on the show get around to showing you the hockey highlights. However, on the TSN website or on their app, fans can click on only the content that they wish to read or watch.

 

Considerable Changes in How We Watch Live Sports

Woods’ research informs that during the 2010 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament (commonly known as March Madness), CBS sports and the NCAA teamed up to offer an online streaming website. Games were happening during the work day and in the interest of turning the most profit, these companies wanted to offer fans a way to watch the games while they were at work. This website had 3 million unique website visitors combining for 3.4 millions hours of live video watched during the tournament. This website even featured something called a “boss button” that aided people getting away with watching the tournament at work. The idea was that if you were watching at work and your boss walked by your desk, you simply hit the boss button and the website hides the streaming video and mutes the audio, replacing both with a ‘business-like’ work-flow map which is actually all about the tournament brackets (even though it looks like a boring business document). This boss button was hit 1.7 million times during March Madness in 2010.

 

This innovative idea to watch sports during your regular work day took off as a new trend that today, fans have come to expect. Many professional sports apps (TSN, ESPN, theScore, individual sports teams apps like the Calgary Flames app) keep fans up to date with how many shots the team has, individual shift lengths, and even the ability to listen to the live commentary of the games, while you are at work (or at the gym, or watching your son’s dance recital). This kind of always-connected technology has allowed sports to be followed everywhere, which highly affects what can then be published about these sports, if everyone is up to date all the time.

 

One of the most thrilling aspects about being an avid sports fan is the thrill of spontaneous action and the tension of uncertainty in which anything could happen. This is why people pay huge amounts of money to attend live sporting events; if you could not see it live, you had to rely on secondary sports reporting the next day to find out what happened (we are considering the time before the streaming and televising of live sports). Now, you don’t have to. With the new technology that has advanced hand-in-hand with the internet, sports fans have never before been so hooked up at all hours of the day, which lead to the change of pace in sports publishing.

 

Social Media and the Change of Pace

Contributing to the numerous sports reporters is an alloy of sports bloggers, fans, and professional athletes on social media platforms. Sports journalists now need to sift through the media and try to distinguish between the new news and the old news. On social media and professional team apps, fans can get instantaneous updates when a player scores or if the game goes into overtime. Sports reporters can no longer hold the score of the game in their arsenal— fans already know it. Reporters, both online, in print, and on television, now have the challenge of providing more than Twitter can offer: an analysis over 140 characters long. They have to look at the individual plays and create more things to report on. Of course reporters did report more than just the end score and who took the penalties ten years ago, but now there is not much instantaneous competition that they must try to curate more engaging content to keep fans reading and / or watching.

 

Additionally, these social media platforms have greatly changed accessibility to your favourite athletes. If you think that Connor McDavid must be healed from his injury by now and the Edmonton Oilers are keeping him out of the line up for an ulterior motive, you can tweet at them at @EdmontonOilers . If you think that Shannon Szabados had an amazing game last night that you will never forget, you can tweet your thanks to @ShannonSzabados .

Drew Hancherick uses his paper “Tweet Talking: How Modern Technology and Social Media Are Changing Sports Communication” to explain how Twitter has changed the pace of sports publishing. Time-sensitive news such as rumours of professional athlete trades can spread over Twitter before any reputable news source, such as ESPN or Fox News, had published any hints of a trade. In 2010, a columnist for ESPN tweeted out (using his personal Twitter handle) that rumours of a trade were going around, before even the newspaper he wrote for had published content pertaining to a possible trade. This is another example of how technology has changed the pace of sports publishing.

 

“As media technology has evolved over the years, so has the way that information is gathered and published. In the past, newspapers and other print publications were the primary sources of news information; reporters had plenty of time to gather information and verify it through multiple sources before a story was published. Today that model of journalism is nearly obsolete. Now is the time of the rapid-fire news cycle; the rise of the Internet and round-the-clock cable news networks has in many cases channeled the energy of journalists toward pushing out news as fast as possible” (Hancherick 17)  

 

Not only does sports reporting today need to be as fast as possible, it also has been condensed.  Jillian Gutstein and Sarah Hampton write, after attending Penn Law Sports Law Symposium in February 2015 in which Adam Schefter, a current ESPN football analyst, spoke, Gutstein and Hampton reported that Schefter is considered by New York Magazine to be “The Most Influential Tweeter in New York”. Schefter is publishing content about sports like a traditional reporter, just in bytes. Before coming to ESPN, Scheftler was an editor at his school newspaper at the University of Michigan and later he was a reporter following the Denver Broncos (NFL). At the Symposium, Scheftler said that newspaper reporting is slowing dying out because news is no longer reported every 24 hours, instead it is reported every 24 seconds (Gutstein and Hampton). He states that Twitter has changed the way people write about sports because journalists now post news by the minute, but if you get it wrong, you cannot take it back.

 

If a new model of sports publishing takes place on social media and has to be up-to-date-up-to-the-minute, this doesn’t leave time for lengthy fact checking. Reporters and journalists must get the story (tweet) right the first time they write it; it will not be edited later. Hancherick reflects these concerns with saying that the rush to get a story out before another media outlet does leaves journalists in an ethical dilemma— is it better to be the first reporter to publish the story and risk having it disproved later or are you obligated to complete several fact checks in order to maintain your reputation? Hancherick believes that stories of journalists having to apologize later for publishing false information in an effort to get it out fast will become more prevalent as the need for instantaneous information becomes greater. Technology has allowed for quicker publishing, which does not allow much time for proofreading and fact checking. Hancherick however does offer a solution to this problem: a reporter can tweet a short teaser about a story before it is even written, and then follow up on their publications website with a full, edited, and fact checked story later.

 

Have Sports Columns Changed? Journalistic content on the web

The article content on TSN’s website is not as lengthy as article content on the same subject ten years ago might have been in a newspaper column. However, this does not mean that publishing is diminished or gone — it has just become more concise. Short, concise stories on the happenings in the sports realm accompany the daily scores and different columns analyze different aspects of the game. This quantity explosion of content that is the internet has really expanded the world for sports reporting because they now have so many more things to write about — especially since technology has impacted the games themselves. Tracking chips and overhead tracking cameras now provide player by player statistics on how these athletes (mainly basketball and hockey at this point) are performing on a game by game basis. With this information, sports columnists have a lot more to talk about. They can, and do, go on for columns and columns about how the New York Ranger’s Corsi ratio is down seven percent since last season and that is why they cannot buy a goal right now.

 

In addition to the length of sports columns becoming shorter, they have also become search engine optimized. Instead of pun-filled or witty headlines/sub-headlines, they must have keywords in them like the team name and the specific player so Google can find the article. Strategies must be put into place such as long-tail keywords for Google searches and using the correct trending terms of the week. The existence of search engine optimization changes the very words being used in online sports publishing, not just the content or amount of content published.

 

Digitally: Robot or Human?

Perhaps one of the most unexpected and dramatic ways that technology has affected sports publishing came in a New York Times article written by Steve Lohr in 2011. The excerpt

 

“WISCONSIN appears to be in the driver’s seat en route to a win, as it leads 51-10 after the third quarter. Wisconsin added to its lead when Russell Wilson found Jacob Pedersen for an eight-yard touchdown to make the score 44-3 … . ” (Lohr)

 

was the beginning of a short news brief on College Football in the US…and it was written by a computer. A code mimicking human reasoning was created by a company called Narrative Science. The software they have created takes numbered data, like sports statistics or financial reports, and creates articles. Software is now generating human-like content to be published. Lohr’s article, while it recognizes that technology has already drastically changed the economics of traditional journalism, questions whether robot-journalists will replace human journalists in the newsroom. If much more news content is being pushed out on Twitter these days anyways, is it that hard for this sophisticated of a program to generate comprehensible and enticing 140 character news snippets?

 

The leaders of Narrative Science state that they believe their product can be used to generate content when publishers budgets are too tight or there is too much of a time constraint to have humans generate the content. The Big Ten Network (a sports coverage network in the United States) began using Narrative Science in 2010 to produce short summary articles of university or high school games that can be published minutes after the games are completed. Significantly, the articles that this software produces has search engine optimization built into it. The Big Ten Network saw a 40% increase in traffic to their website on articles covering football games specifically.

 

Using Narrative Science to generate short pieces of content is extremely cost effective: around $10 per article of approximately 500 words. This expense is far less (by industry estimates) than than the average cost per article if a human was hired to write it (Lehr).

 

To investigate the other side of the robotic coin, Christer Clerwall experimented on how consumers interpret algorithmic content in his article “Enter the Robot Journalist” in Journalism Practice. He performed a small-scale study that investigated how readers perceive software-generated content in relation to similar content written by (human) journalists, or if they could even tell the difference. The study conducted involved a small sample being instructed to read a recap of a NFL Football game and guess whether they thought it was written by a journalist or written by software. Additionally, they were asked “to assess the article on the quality of the content, and the credibility of the text” (Clerwall 524); this used a set base of describing words for participants to choose from. Results showed that the content written by a journalist had more votes for ‘coherence’, ‘well written’, ‘clear’, and ‘pleasant to read’ assessment qualities. However, participants rated ‘descriptive’, ‘informative’, ‘trustworthy’, and ‘objective’ at higher rates in for the robot-generated text. While Clerwall recognizes that the differences are small, he states that the descriptive words chosen to describe the software generated text shows that readers found this text more credible and more authoritative in the information that it was conveying. Graphs on the study show that “the text written by a journalist is assessed as being more coherent, well written, clear, less boring, and more pleasant to read. On the other hand, the text generated by software is perceived as more descriptive, more informative, more boring, but also more accurate, trustworthy, and objective” (Clerwall, 525). While differences in votes for each descriptive word exist between both versions of the text, the only significant difference in votes occurred with the boring and pleasant to read descriptors. Clerwall discloses that perhaps a larger scale study would provide enough numbers to see a larger range of significant differences, but also perhaps the only difference between a journalist and a coded-software-content-producer is that journalists’ content is pleasant to read and computer-generated content is boring. There was not a significant number of people who could guess correctly whether the content they were reading was written by a human or a computer. Clerwall comes to the conclusion that “as far as this study is concerned, the readers are not able to discern automated content from content written by a human. Some aspects of quality, such as being clear and being pleasant to read, received a slightly higher score for human-written content, but others, such as trustworthiness, informative, and objective, were higher for the automated content” (Clerwall, 527). After reading this study, I don’t think robots will put journalists out of work anytime soon. Computers might be more suitable to write Tweets stating that an interesting article exists on a certain newspaper’s website, and the interesting article would still be actually written by a human.

 

Conclusion

Technology has made the consumption of professional sports available at all hours of the day, which has changed our needs for sports reporting. We now want sports reporting to be more insightful than just the box scores and for new content to come out multiple times a day. The invasion of the easily-accessible internet into the public’s lives has transformed sports publishing into being primarily digital and has increased the pace significantly. Advances in sports tracking and statistics technology has given reporters much more to talk about, thus increasing the amount of content. Mobile technology allows for amazing things such as SnapChat giving fans the ‘at the game’ experience that television broadcasting just cannot. We have seen software programs create game-recap summaries that read as if a human wrote them and we have seen reporters publish on Twitter too hastily to properly fact-check their stories. We can safely conclude that sports reporting (and the human journalists who do it) is not going anywhere; although we can expect that robots will write the shorter snippets of game summaries, humans will still needed to write in-depth critical articles about sports, even if they are a bit shorter than they used to be and now are search engine optimized.

 

Works Cited

 

Christer Clerwall. “Enter the Robot Journalist.” Journalism Practice (2014): n. pag. Web. <http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17512786.2014.883116>

 

Gutstein, Jillian, and Sarah Hampton. “Tech Is Changing Sports Journalism, Says ESPN’s Adam Schefter at Penn Law’s Sports Law Symposium.”• Penn Law. University of Pennsylvania Law School, 24 Feb. 2015. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <https://www.law.upenn.edu/live/news/5360-tech-is-changing-sports-journalism-says-espns-adam#.VqlzKlMrKi5>.

 

Hancherick, Drew. “Tweet Talking: How Modern Technology and Social Media Are Changing Sports Communication.” Strategic Communications(n.d.): n. pag. Elon University. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.<http://www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/academics/communications/research/vol2no1/02hancherick.pdf>

 

Lohr, Steve. “In Case You Wondered, a Real Human Wrote This Column.”The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Sept. 2011. Web. 28 Jan. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/business/computer-generated-articles-are-gaining-traction.html?_r=0>

 

Ramphal, Jim. “Top 10 Ways Technology Has Changed Sports.” TheRichest. TheRichest, 09 Apr. 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.therichest.com/sports/top-10-ways-technology-has-changed-sports/?view=all>

 

“Sports Journalism Digital Age.” International Business Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.ibtimes.com/sportsnet/sports-journalism-digital-age-1090350>.

 

Woods, Ron. “Technology Has Changed the Way We Experience Sport.”Human-kinetics. Human Kinetics, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/technology-has-changed-the-way-we-experience-sport>.

 

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