Over the last 20 years, the ways in which Americans consume information has changed drastically. This growth is not just limited to the number of sources or the number of platforms, but also to the accessibility of news and information. No longer are we limited by time of day or location. For the most part, we can now access anything we want, whenever we want. Social media, multi-channel media outlets and multi-platform devices have made getting our news easier than ever.
A surge in the technological advances in covering news has come, as we’ve also seen an increase in the availability of information itself and the transparency of companies and people. In fact, the news that receives the highest ratings and demands the most interest comes from stories we never would have known about 20 years ago because it deals with something that used to be known as “personal.”
In addition, so much of news now has become editorial. Hours of news time on television and thousands of websites now feature opinion over fact. There was a time when a journalist’s job was only to report the news. Now entire shows and websites are dedicated primarily to opinion.
For those reasons, the line has been blurred in terms of what constitutes “news.” So when a major story comes along in the world of sports, be it cheating, domestic abuse or legal issues, who should cover it?
Two of the top 15 most-watched television shows in 2014 were sports. There are over 50 channels covering sports in the U.S., and that does not include all of the packages that include every NBA, NHL, MLB or NFL game. What’s more, covering sports now goes well beyond the games themselves. The headlines in sports are now dominated by stories of scandal, violence, drug use, cheating, death and money. Put all of this together, and the conclusion I draw is that sports is news. Like any other sub-category, specialists are still assigned to cover it; case in point, there are political news stations and websites, but politics are still covered on all major news outlets. The same goes for money, business, entertainment and technology. Journalists and broadcasters who specialize in those areas work those beats, but all are featured on major stations, (ABC, NBC) newspapers (USA Today, The Wall Street Journal) and websites (CNN, Yahoo).
The major stories in sports are no longer the game results. Scores are located on small bars at the top of websites or small tickers at the bottom of your television screen. Small fonts, scrolling swiftly. The voices you hear, the pictures you see, the analysis you receive, all go beyond the game to issues you might find in any other subject matter. So while these stories, like any other, should be assigned to people with knowledge in that specific area, sports should absolutely be considered under the umbrella of news like anything else.
There should not be a question as to whether or not a major story in sports should be covered as sports or news. With so many similarities to so many other categories of news coverage, it is time to accept that sports is most definitely news and deserves to be covered as such.