The Citizen Sports Journalist

In today’s world, opportunity is abound. With all of the new technology available, anyone, if they put their mind to it, can do pretty much anything.

This is no different in the world of sports journalists, and journalists in general. With all of the new social media around, a new term has evolved: “citizen journalist.” A citizen journalist is an average person, who uses new technology and social media to report and write news or sports stories, without having the professional title of journalist and without being under the employ of any journalistic company.

This trend is no mainstream yet, but the readership of many of these entrepreneurial citizen journalists has.

How do mainstream media outlets, such as major newspapers or top market broadcast news stations, feel about this emerging trend? The obvious answer is that they don’t like it, and many media outlets don’t. However, one major paper, the Washington Times, has embraced citizen journalism.

The Times, according to an article by Jennifer Harper, will place some for work done by citizen journalists in the A section of each days paper. The Times is doing this to expand their reach, and get more of a local voice in the paper.

This is a refreshing approach, and shows that the Times not only believes in printing the best, most relevant information they can find, but also that they, unlike many other newspapers, are embracing social media trends, instead of hiding from them.

But citizen journalists are not just working for the mainstream media, they are competing with it, through their own news websites and blogs.

The Bleacher Report, according to an article by Adam Ostrow entitled “Bleacher Report Launches Citizen Journalism for Sports: Raises Series A,”  has notorious fans write blogs about all of the different sports and professional leagues. They are also now implementing more citizen journalism, where any fan of any team can write on the site.

These are real people, without a degree from Northwestern or the University of Missouri in journalism, writing stories that are being read at a high rate by the general public.

MLB Trade Rumors is a site developed by Tim Dierkes, another average joe, that posts every rumor of a trade, coach hiring, coach firing, free agent signing, etc., in Major League Baseball.

Warpath Confidential is another citizen journalism site run by John Pappas. This is more localized citizen journalism, as Pappas and his small staff write about the Washington Redskins.

All three of these sites are excellent examples of citizen journalism, and all have a large readership and following.

However, just because these sites have made citizen journalism work doesn’t mean it is easy. Zachary Seward of Nieman Journalism Lab chimes in with 5 tips for aspiring citizen journalists who want to start up their own operation.

1. Recruit people for a mission, not a concept. Seward is trying to say that citizen journalism is a time commitment, and people will only commit their time if they have interest in the cause.

2. Pick stories that are suited to a crowd. In other words, don’t send a lot of people to a story that could be covered by one person.

3. Pick stories that are uniquely valuable. Seward says that journalism pros will cover most of the events anyways, so do something different in your story to distinguish it.

4. Keep track of the crowd. Seward says to always pay attention to what your readership is thinking and saying. This idea goes a long way in all journalism, social media, etc.

5. Don’t worry about what it’s called. In Sewards mind, journalism is journalism. Reporting is reporting. So don’t get discouraged by the label.

These are all good tips, and shows that any one, through the use of social media, can become a journalist. Also, the entire idea of citizen journalism levels the playing field between Citizen journalists and professional journalists, and allows all ideas, opinions and reports the chance to be read.

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4 Comments on “The Citizen Sports Journalist”

  1. Anne Blessing Says:

    Citizen Journalism! There’s that term again. Thanks for posting on this, I can see this is a huge trend in sports journalism. It is interesting to see how well renown media outlets are actually embracing citizen journalists–and how there are portals for journalists to connect to one another and publish their articles.

  2. Kristen Cicala Says:

    It is really interesting that the Times set space aside just for citizen journalism. I really had no idea that major papers are starting to go this route. I think that is a really neat idea to get a more local approach and it offers a unique voice that might connect more with the readers. I was just wondering, do you know who they get to put in the paper? Like are they popular bloggers they found or just the average Joe submitting their articles to the paper?

    • Frank Salatto Says:

      Ya it is good that the Times is doing this. Newspapers need to be proactive if they want to stay in business, and the Times knows that I think

  3. Allie Rogers Says:

    I think that major newspapers really have to adapt to idea of citizen journalists because they are not going anywhere. I can see how it is a touchy subject for professional journalists because they have the degrees and are qualified. They also put there time in and had to follow the rules. Now, anyone can be a journalist without qualifications. However, citizen journalists are going to keep talking so papers might as well include them in the conversation. I think the idea of citizen journalists is a good one because it gives you a real idea of what real people think and are saying. I think audiences can relate more to citizen journalists than to professional journalists, who may seem hard to reach. Our world is changing rapidly and newspapers are just going to have to adjust before they join the rest of the papers that have already folded!


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