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Tuesday January 6, 2009 11:08 pm

Is Sports Journalism Dead?




Posted by Eno Sarris Categories:

Plugged in all the time?

The Columbia Journalism Review just published a meta-review of sorts - trying to get at the future of sports journalism by analyzing the past and discussing the future. The piece itself is somewhat forgettable, sort of a catalog of past and current writers and their different styles. It comes to the general conclusion that long-form journalism has suffered in the era of the internet and the intensification of the battle for the scoop. This seems to be inarguable, even with the good writing that is still out there.

But there is another idea that the article puts forth that is worth discussing: in the era of the rapidly dissipating scoop, what is the future of sports writing?

The meat of the CJR article by Gary Andrew Poole comes down to a fictional anecdote: a slugger pulls his hamstring in the middle of an at-bat and all the sports writers hit their Blackberries, trying to scoop each other and file the story as quick as possible. They know they have to compete with bloggers watching the game with their laptops, in their underwear, in their mother’s basement (as the story goes).

But Buster Olney, listed (appropriately) as one of the good ones, recommends that the future sports writer takes a different tact.

“If I were the editor,” says ESPN’s Buster Olney, who also blogs, “I would say, ‘Don’t worry about beating the seven other papers on the hamstring story; focus on developing your thousand-word game story. Remember the great writing you loved as a kid? Write it up like that.’”

The good news is that this blog is listening.

Read More | Columbia Journalism Review

Sure, At the Dish will stay on top of the news. We will be timely and discuss things that are happening now.

But will we focus on getting the scoop? No. There are newswires that will beat us there almost every time.

No, instead let us discuss what At the Dish will be about, even if the previous Marlins point might have made it obvious: this will be a blog that will bring together opinionated sports journalists in order to opine on hot topics with what will hopefully be a unique spin.

Why bother with the hamstring when the ramifications might be more interesting? Ramifications that go beyond line-up changes and get to the identity of the team, further moves, changes in the power structure of the division or the league, and possibly the meaning of the at-bat in the game, the series, and the month in question. When moments rise to the level that they deserve glorification, we will pledge to take notice and try to bring those moments to you with our crispest writing and our honest opinions.

Hopefully we’ll help usher in the future of sports journalism whether or not we are in our underwear in our mother’s basements.

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