Teaching sports reporting

Dating back to the Greeks, sports has been a part of every civilized society. The game is a great socializing agent, and the games we play help us define who we are and what’s important in society.

Sometimes the best stories – and pictures – are not on the field but in the stands. Sports reporters should look everywhere for good stories.

Today we spent loads and time and devote enormous amounts of money to sports. Children are encouraged to participate in sports. High school, collegiate and professional sports provide the fulltime occupation for many people and generate tremendous revenue for the local economies.

So, no matter what our personal attitudes are toward sports, it cannot be dismissed as unimportant.
Many aspiring young journalists, particularly males, want to cover sports. And why not? Sporting events are interesting and exciting, and sports personalities have great charisma.

But these young journalists should know that being a great sports fan does not make you a great – or even good – sports reporter.

Sports reporting, even with its moments of excitement, is often dull, tedious, difficult and time consuming. It requires great knowledge of the games, their rules and their participants. Sporting events demand attention from sports reporters even when they are dull or when the outcome is known long before the contest actually ends.

This workshop is designed to help teachers introduce some of the basic concepts of sports reporting to their students.


Workshop schedule

Day 1: Writing the game story

About the instructor

Dr. Erin Whiteside is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee.

She is primarily interested in diversity and ethics in the sports media workplace, discourses of gender and sexuality in sports media, and processes of cultural meaning-making through sports media consumption.

Dr. Whiteside has published her research in Sociology of Sport Journal, Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal, the Journal of Sports Media and Mass Communication & Society among others. She recently co-authored a chapter in “Examining Identity in Sports Media” that examines new homophobia and heterosexism in women’s sports coverage.

Before entering academia, Dr. Whiteside worked for Major League Baseball in New York City, where she edited and wrote for a variety of publications, including the World Series program, All-Star Game program, Little League Magazine and Major League Baseball en Español. Following her time at MLB, she worked in communications for the Penn State athletic department, where she oversaw communication for the women’s basketball team while also assisting with football and contributing to the development and re-launch of the athletics website.

At Tennessee, Dr. Whiteside teaches classes in sports journalism along with JEM 466: Media, Diversity and Society.

Dr. Whiteside is a regular contributor to www.sports-media-society.com. Her twitter feed is at www.twitter.com/erinwhiteside.



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