When athletes entered the blogosphere several years ago, sports reporters held their collective breath, wondering whether the new medium would threaten their livelihood. Then came microblogs such as Twitter, closing the gap between athlete and fan by making it easy to quickly share bite-sized pieces of information.
Social media have also blurred the distinction between fan and journalist. Anyone can tweet their opinion about Jim Zorn’s play calling or Joe Girardi’s bullpen decisions. Sports sections of newspapers still exist, but citizen sports bloggers abound.
Rather than ignoring or worrying about these new “threats,” sports journalists should use social media to their advantage, according to Ryan Corazza in a special to ESPN.com.
What he means is that sports reporters should act as a sort of aggregator of social media content. Tons of athletes share breaking news with blogs and Twitter, and it should be up to the journalists to monitor it and determine what is newsworthy enough to relay to the public via mainstream media. While many fans follow the Twitter accounts and read the blogs of athletes, the majority of them will get their news directly from a mainstream source such as ESPN.
Take this example: Charlie Villanueva Tweeted at halftime of an NBA game. A blogger wrote about the tweet, and a mainstream journalist found the blog. This shows that both the players’ and the citizen bloggers’ use of social media can be beneficial for sports journalists.
So instead of feeling threatened by athletes’ adoption of social media, sports reporters should view it as another opportunity to get the scoop. They should act as the gatekeepers of social media content and relay the most important information to their audience, which, for the most part, I think they do.