Sunday, November 2, 2008

Investigative Reporting in Sports...

I was told in one of my Media Law classes that the art of investigative reporting is slowly dying because of the fact that it is becoming hard to do. The reporters have to fight lawsuits from those they are investigating if what they are investigating is negative. It also involves a lot of time and effort and anonymous sources that reporters have to protect and sometimes go to jail for.

Well in the sports world, investigative journalism is a breath of fresh air and something that ESPN has capitalized on with its shows "Outside the Lines" and its newest one, "E:60".

In "Outside the Lines" they investigate things that happen in sports on a local, regional, and national level. Their topics sometimes include controversies in sports, deaths, new rules that people may not agree with, and recently the presidential candidates appeared on this show talking about their love for their particular sports.

They also take the major sports headlines of the day and cover it with more depth than other shows have done.

In "E:60" they also do investigative reporting but they take it a step further and actually show a round table discussion between the editor and the reporters on why the reporters topic is relevant and why the reporter thinks he/she should cover it. Below is a video where they discuss the controversy over a 13-year-old girl and basketball.

This takes you inside of ESPN's newsroom and also improves the stories that follow the discussion. Below is the actual story called "League of Her Own" about a 13-year-old girl who is the only girl on a all boys basketball team and the controversy that surrounds it.

I think shows like these two add to the overall value of ESPN. Not only can you catch the latest highlights, commentary and opinions on sports related topics but you can also learn about new topics that affect sports on local and national levels.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Trip to the Washington Post...

This past Friday I took a tour of the Washington with my graduate class in Washington D.C. and I have to say that it was a valuable experience. We toured with Chet Rhodes who is the Assistant Manager for News Video.

He taught us some rules to shooting video and he also talked to us about the future plans of the Washington Post and what goes on in the online department of the post. Best of all, he provided us with some food to each and some valuable tips on how to make our website portfolios better including what he would be looking for in hiring someone after looking at a persons online portfolio.

One of the most interesting things that I learned about the Washington Post's online department is the process that they have in place that critiques and improves reporters' videos. I feel that this process is needed in a lot of newspapers because a lot of print journalists do not have the experience to produce top quality videos.

After the trip I found a video of Mr. Rhodes on YouTube where he talks about the future of print journalism and talks more on video and online journalism.

I'm glad I was able to be a part of this learning experience.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

In Fantasy and In Real Life...

We all know that there are sports journalists who cover real sports that occur in real time and also produce videos and highlights that support this. But what if I told you that there are sports journalist who cover sports in the fantasy world? No, I'm not crazy. I'm talking about fantasy sports.

For those who don't know what fantasy sports is, it is basically games based off of real sports where the results of a real game translates into points based on a scale created by those in charge of the fantasy sport. Users draft dream teams that consists of their favorite players and then are pitted against each other in hopes that their players scores more points than the other user's team. and other sports news outlets all have journalists that they use to cover this type of game. These journalists provide users tips on who to draft and what the users can expect to gain from the player they select in terms of how many points that player will get and so on.

ESPN also has their provide a place for users to play fantasy sports for free on their website so that users can get the best of both worlds (Real sports coverage and coverage for their fantasy games.)

To take it a step further, they also air funny and entertaining commercials that promotes fantasy sports and tries to get more users involved. Here is one of the funniest ones I've found on YouTube:

Sunday, October 12, 2008 Equal Opportunity Employers

When you apply for a job and the employer tells you that they are “equal opportunity” employers your probably think that they are telling the truth. Well here is a perfect example of this in action. not only employs accomplished sports journalists but they also now employ accomplished rappers to write blogs for them. Their most recent blogger has been none other than Lil Wayne.

For those who aren’t familiar with Lil Wayne he is a rapper from New Orleans who has went platinum with his most recent CD called “The Carter III”. If you turn on the radio or watch MTV or BET you are bound to either hear his songs or catch a glimpse of him.

Now for those who are familiar with him I bet that you didn’t know he was also a sports enthusiast. He likes sports so much that he has volunteered to write a blog for ESPN. And this isn’t just something he is doing to attract more fans. He is so dedicated to writing the blog for ESPN that he has gotten himself an ESPN tattoo. What blogger do you know who is as dedicated to his work as that?

I think that this is a good thing for both ESPN and Lil Wayne. ESPN has been always trying to become more hip and urban to reach the younger generation and what better way to do so by getting the best young artist today to write about sports. Lil Wayne also benefits because even if his goal wasn’t to attract more fans to his music the blog will accomplish this.

I feel that this is just the beginning and that known celebrities who are true sports fans (#1 Laker Fan Jack Nicholas or the only real Knicks fan left Spike Lee) should all have blogs professing their love for sports and their love for their sports teams. Just stay away from getting their favorite sports team or sports show tattooed on their bodies. Tattoos aren’t for everyone.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

ESPN: Covering Everything Involving Sports...

When people think of sports people go to ESPN for the coverage. For news on crimes and things that happened in court people go to their local news stations. However, what if I told you that ESPN’s coverage extends further than just what athletes do on the field? ESPN also covers crimes that involve athletes off of the field. An example of this is the current OJ Simpson incident.

For those who don’t know what happened, OJ Simpson, one of the greatest NFL running backs ever, was accused of holding up memorabilia dealers in a hotel room at gun point. He was accompanied by another man who was assisting him. When this case came out, many of the ESPN television personalities had their own opinion on the case and were free to address it. Jim Rome certainly did this:

To go further with the legal topic, ESPN even has its own lawyer to provide analysis on certain topics like this. His name is Lester Munson and he acts as a journalist and a former Chicago lawyer. Anything that you would want to know about this case has been probably written by him and it can be found on ESPN.

ESPN also has there own legal analyst, Roger Cossack, who provides in-depth analysis of the case and other court cases that athletes may find themselves in. The only difference between him and Munson is that Cossack usually appears on Sportscenter to provide his analysis of the case.

Another thing that I like about the coverage is that it is unbiased. When I was reading an article from the Associated Press posted on about the OJ Simpson case I found that the dealers had a web cam and recorded when Simpson entered the room. The AP reporter also said that the Las Vegas police were heard saying at the end of the recording that Los Angeles didn’t get him (OJ Simpson) but we (the Las Vegas police) will. This hinted that maybe OJ was set up all along.

In the past ESPN just covered sports and highlights and maybe would just mention an athlete’s legal woes but now it’s different. ESPN just doesn’t give you the news on the case but now provides in depth information that can’t be found on your local news station or even one of the big four news stations (CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox). And this just doesn’t apply to the big cases like OJ’s. They’ve done it for most of the athletes who are accused of committing a crime. Some of these athletes would only be mentioned briefly on a news channel.

This is why ESPN is the worldwide leader of sports. Not just of highlights, games, or in-depth interviews with athletes. It is also the place where you can find in-depth news on anything that involves sports. Even if sports finds its way into the court room.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

NBA Players Turn Reporters…

When many people think of NBA players a lot of times it is associated with how much money that player makes or how good (or bad) that player plays on the floor. But what if we dug deeper and talked about how skillful of a writer a player is or how interesting his blog was? For many of the general public, they wouldn’t even think that at NBA player has the time or the skill to write an award winning blog. Well if you do think that you are wrong.

Gilbert Arenas is a point guard who plays for the NBA’s Washington Wizards. Many people know him for his skills on the court but off the court he is the winner of the 2007 Weblog Award Winner for the Best Celebrity Blog. His blogs are also referenced sometimes in sports media outlets such as ESPN simply because of the interesting opinions he puts in his blogs and the inside news he reports on.

What does Gilbert Arenas write about? Surprisingly it isn’t all about basketball. His most recent post has him talking about the fact that his girlfriend has just proposed to him. He describes his feelings about it and even posts pictures of the event. 14 people have commented on it so far and I’m sure many others will as his blog totals in over 2,000 comments.

Even though many will say that this is the best blog in the NBA, there are other players that have their own blogs too. These blogs also cover a wide range of topics and give the reader and inside look at their favorite players and their favorite teams. It just goes to show you that NBA players aren’t just good at playing basketball and making tons of money. They have other skills as well.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Media Vs. The Leagues: Who Has The Best Coverage?

Over the weekend, in my graduate class, we had a guest speaker from Media General (Company that owns a lot of newspapers from the Richmond Times-Dispatch to newspapers in Tampa, FL.) who said that it is getting hard for sports journalists to gain access to many sports events because of the restrictions that the professional leagues are putting on them. He said that the leagues want to have their own coverage ( and are two examples of leagues who do this) and don't want other sports media outlets to get more coverage than they do. This leaves the other sports media outlets digging deeper and starting to cover more high school and college sports. ESPN is a perfect example of this as they even have a website dedicated to high school athletes.

With all this being said, it made me wonder, who really has the best coverage and who deserves it?

Well lets begin with the sports media. Before leagues like the NBA and the NFL had their own media, companies like ESPN and Fox Sports have been doing a good job covering them, in my opinion. ESPN seems to be the more popular because of the fact that even athletes talk about getting on Sportscenter's highlights reel. In my opinion, their shows are more entertaining and that may be because they have been around longer. I feel that without media like this the NBA and the NFL may of not received the publicity and the popularity that it enjoys today.

However, with the leagues I understand why they would want to branch out and have their own outlets to provide their news. It is a lot of money to be made and I assume that they feel that it is an opportunity to make more money. However, I don't feel that it is right, if they are in fact doing this, to push for more restrictions on newspaper writers and other media outlet writers so that their own writers and reporters can gain that inside edge. The NFL, NBA and I think the NHL all have their own networks but customers have to pay for it whereas ESPN and Fox networks come for free on most cable network lineups. This makes it more easier for fans to get their news from them than it is to get their news from the league networks.

Overall, I think the leagues should just make access equal. The leagues have no need to get into the media field, in my opinion, because ESPN is so much more popular and more available to customers than the leagues media outlets are. As for the local newspaper writers and reporters, I feel that they shouldn't be shut out either because when you think about it, they are even more available and provide that local feel to readers more than the league's media does. But will the league do this? I doubt it because like it is most of the time in the business world, if their is money to be made then that company will push hard to make it. Even if they have to shut others out to do so.