The recent news of CNN shifting its sports coverage isn’t news, it’s part of a growing trend.
In case everyone hasn’t heard, CNN has decided to shift its sports coverage from the highly respected Sports Illustrated and will now feature internet-based Bleacher Report. This is a representation of the current trend in sports journalism from older entities to a new and younger generation of sports writers.
Bleacher Report is an entirely web-based entity and always has been. Originally starting out as a fan-site, they have grown into a highly respected sports journalism website, but they are not the only ones who have been embracing the internet era of journalism.
With the creation of weblogs, better known as “blogs,” the internet now offers a platform to anyone who would like one. Websites such as WordPress and Blogger offer free blog hosting, and anyone can make one rather quickly.
This has perhaps affected no industry more than it has the sports industry, as the new ability to share information has changed the way we cover and watch sports. Websites and blog networks such as Bleacher Report, Sports Blog Nation (known as SB Nation), ESPN Truehoop and many others are part of this change.
In some cases, the online websites have even surpassed such outlets as Sports Illustrated, ESPN and many newspapers.
No recent event has shown the difference as strongly as the recent election for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, which is voted on by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America. Many of these people covered the game for years and are part of the old guard of sports writers.
With internet-based writers now gaining more and more traction, the BBWAA has began to show resentment towards the ever-changing landscape. Recently, highly respected Fox Sports reporter (who has often sided with the internet community), Ken Rosenthal went as far as to compare the growing internet community to the Tea Party.
It’s not just CNN that is noticing this change in the landscape, as ESPN has created the Truehoop network for basketball and Sweetspot network for baseball. They even have division-specific blogs for their NFL coverage.
Not only is this growing change affecting the journalism community, but the professional sports industry as well. I actually write for a blog known as “Beyond the Box Score,” which provides in-depth analysis pertaining to baseball, as part of the SB Nation network. Multiple writers from this blog alone have been hired by Major League baseball teams, while others have gone on to work for such respected companies as Bloomberg Sports.
This has happened frequently in the NBA as well, with multiple teams hiring “bloggers” to work for them. The Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association recently hired Aaron Barzilai, creator of well-known NBA blog “Basketballvalue.com.”
The Memphis Grizzlies hired former blogger and ESPN columnist John Hollinger as their Assistant Vice President of Basketball Operations, without Hollinger having any previous experience working for a team. Hollinger’s previous experience included a small blog he ran called Alleyoop, which led to him writing for other smaller websites before reaching Sports Illustrated, and then finally ESPN.
The purpose of all this being: Not only is the new wave providing better analysis, they are providing professional-caliber analysis.
Whether the old guard likes it or not, the sports journalism landscape is changing. No longer are they the only ones who have access to the team 24/7, with most leagues offering online packages to be able to watch the games and most statistics available online.
Times are changing and it is for the better.