Varying story methods and types are utilized by journalists in order to tell the story they’re attempting to share with their readers. Each decision by the group of writers and editors tasked with telling a story is made consciously with different goals and intentions of influencing or informing the reader in a variety of ways. In sports journalism, some of the most influential writers are sports columnists. Yet, some of the best work done by sports writers and the aforementioned sports columnists is that of news analysis in the sports journalism world.
Straight news stories are often overlooked and fail in reaching a publication and journalist’s intended audiences in an ideal fashion. As ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap says in an interview with Sports Illustrated, the advent of social media has changed how sports journalists go about their work. With athletes afforded the opportunity to present their own messages to their fans, the media must provide quality and meaningful information to make their work a necessity to read.
Above is an example of a tweet teasing a story from The Athletic’s Doug Haller, who covers Arizona State football and basketball. In one of his most recent pieces, he provided news analysis of the latest addition to Arizona State’s basketball roster for the 2021–22 season. In this piece, Haller utilized a bullet-note style of journalism providing 10 pieces of information that Sun Devil fans should know about the addition from Toledo.
Rather than just a traditional news article of who and what is happening, Haller adds analysis of what it means for the program without infringing much — if any — of his own opinion.
Our second example of a good use of news analysis as a means for reaching the audience is in this piece co-reported and written by The Athletic’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal. With news of Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision to move the league’s all-star game from Atlanta due to Georgia’s new voting laws, Rosenthal and Drellich provided analysis without expressing opinion on the choice. The two savvy reporters were able to successfully offer the news — and what its impact was — without preaching their opinion (even though they are more than qualified to do so if needed.)
Pieces like the one Rosenthal and Drellich worked on are important to the health of good sports journalism. Because as funny as this 26-minute video is, a sports media landscape predicated on takes like those on ESPN’s First Take would be relatively unfulfilling for those looking to learn things about the sports they love.
The last example provided of good news analysis in the sports journalism industry is that of Justin Ray, who covers the PGA Tour. During the 2021 Masters, he summed up the news of the event with statistics and analysis putting into context what happened.
Quality sports reporting is important to the great industry of sports as a whole, and as I strive for a career as a sports reporter my goal has always been to provide enlightening information in an effective and entertaining manner. Here are some great tips on how to be effective as a sports writer and fit into the sports journalism ecosystem.
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While a great sports columnist can evoke emotion out of a fan in brilliant ways, an effective piece of news analysis can make a reader think about the situation in just as many ways. Without news analysis pieces of sports journalism, each story would either be too-heavily reliant upon facts and figures of which a fan could find in a box score, or too-heavily of the opinion variety. News analysis is a key cog in an effective sports media landscape and allows the business to keep churning out content in a way that satisfies a reader’s needs.