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Inside the Sports Pages

Inside the Sports Pages: Work Routines, Professional Ideologies, and the Manufacture of Sports News

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 150
  • Book Info
    Inside the Sports Pages
    Book Description:

    The working world of contemporary sports journalism through the eyes of the reporters, editors, and athletes who inhabit it. An account and analysis of the ideology behind sports news.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7618-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-2)
    Robert A. Stebbins

    What little research exists on adult amateur sport indicates that its participants often have a mixed view of their professional counterparts. To be sure, the amateurs almost invariably hold the best of them in awe, marvelling at their superlative athletic feats, the apparent ease with which they execute them, and the tremendous public acclaim that accompanies these two manifestations of excellence. In this regard, the amateurs resemble the general public, which suggests that this assessment of the pros by the amateurs is hardly a surprise. What is less well known and therefore less expected, however, is the dark side of...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    Unprecedented labour strife in ‘major league’ sport in 1994 created the opportunity for a minor revolution in the sports pages to take hold. For a brief moment in time it seemed that the suspension of play in Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League had forced sports editors to broaden their coverage. In the space of a few months, the front pages of Canadian sports sections went from being the near-total preserve of the big three professional sports – hockey, football, and baseball – to opening up to a new kind of story, like racism in high-school basketball, or...

  6. 1 Selling Spectacle
    (pp. 9-23)

    Major-league sports are guaranteed newsmakers – their reach is increasingly global, with hundreds of thousands of people clamouring for information about favourite leagues, teams, and players. Sports teams and leagues work hard to cultivate legions of loyal fans, people who will not only attend events but regularly follow their team’s activities with something bordering on religious fervour. And this is precisely why major-league sports depend on intensive media coverage of their activities. This is how they create and sustain such astronomically high levels of public interest in their entertainment product. Media coverage is instrumental in the making of fans, since...

  7. 2 Inside the Newsroom
    (pp. 24-32)

    I initially intended to conduct my fieldwork at the Big CityBugler, theExaminer’s cross-town competitor. In early June 1994, I telephoned theBugler’s senior sports editor, Tom Finnegan, at his home and introduced myself as a university student who was studying sports journalism. I explained that I was specifically interested in learning how the sports section of a metropolitan daily newspaper is put together from scratch each day. I told Finnegan I wanted to immerse myself in theBugler’s sports newswork environment, observing first-hand the work routines of its sports newsworkers. Finnegan expressed genuine interest in this project, indicating...

  8. 3 Working the Sports Beat
    (pp. 33-47)

    News industry economics dictate that metropolitan dailies fill their sports pages almost exclusively with news from the world of major-league sport. Given this reality, the dilemma facing the Big CityExamineris how to cover such a vast expanse? After all, daily newspapers, like any news organization, have finite human and financial resources; it is impossible to post reporters everywhere there is a big-ticket event happening. As theExaminer’s assistant sports editor put it, ‘Obviously we can’t have somebody covering a hockey game in Pittsburgh, in Colorado, and in Toronto, you know, on the same night. It just isn’t possible...

  9. 4 The Routine Sources of Sports News
    (pp. 48-73)

    TheExaminer’s newswork environment is shot through with pressures and constraints. Every day the paper expects its sportswriters to cover all the ground their beat territory encompasses, and to continuously produce news of the major-league sports world under imposing and rigid deadlines. As we shall see in this chapter, the only way reporters can possible satisfy these demands is by strategically and systematically exposing themselves to a limited number of routine news sources. In other words,Examinersportswriters need sources whom they can count on to provide a steady flow of news material all the time; that these routine sources...

  10. 5 Reporter and Source Relations
    (pp. 74-96)

    The major-league sport industry’s need for so much media coverage is best understood in relation to the continued growth of ‘promotional culture’ in Western society.¹ The term promotional culture refers to the pervasive and growing presence of promotional discourse and marketing activity in contemporary society – all of it seeking to create receptive audiences for consumer products, including spectacular entertainments like major-league sport. Moreover, there has been a ‘subtle shift’ in the content and structure of promotional discourse – ‘away from making direct claims about the items being promoted and even away from (rational) argumentation, and towards a reliance on...

  11. 6 In Whose Interests? Sports News and the Question of Ideology
    (pp. 97-106)

    The sociologist Dorothy Smith argues that news is ideological because it is produced through ‘procedures people use as a means not to know.’¹ This is especially the case with sports news, as we’ve seen throughout this book. The routine work practices and professional ideologies that constitute sports newswork – while eminently successful in capturing the goings-on of the major-league commercial sports world with precision and in admirable detail – are principally a ‘means not to know’ about another, more expansive world: the world of non-commercial spectator sports.

    The economic logic of the daily press demands that the range of coverage...

  12. APPENDIX Interview Questions
    (pp. 107-112)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 113-120)
  14. References
    (pp. 121-124)
  15. Index
    (pp. 125-126)