Monthly Archives: February 2010

The evolution of sports journalism online

While I remain deeply involved in the development and forthcoming launch of a sports news site, I’ve found encouragement from others who are embarking on similar endeavors, and for similar reasons. C. Trent Rosecrans, whom I first met when he was a student journalist at the University of Georgia a decade ago, has started a sports news site in Cincinnati, and I love his approach:

“There are no jobs in media right now, nobody’s hiring. I could sit around and complain, or try to do something else. What I am trying to do is starting from the ground up. These are people who know this scene. I’ve lived here for six years now, and have only lived one place longer in my life. This is my home now, and I want to stay here and be part of this community.”

That’s just one example of someone I know who’s trying to continue his passion in face of layoffs and the daunting odds of bootstrapping.

At the same time, the National Sports Journalism Center has opened in Indianapolis, and its Website is flush with fresh, relevant material about the need for sports journalists to learn online skills and concepts while strengthening their grasp of the fundamentals of the profession.

For a tribe that can be rather grouchy and retrograde about the newspaper industry and the future of media, this is a very welcome development. It’s time to grow up, stop complaining about what’s happening in the business and get on with doing what we love.

So what might be the next major step for online sports journalism? I’m hoping there might be something along the lines of the News Entrepreneur Boot Camp that the Knight Digital Media Center is offering up again this spring. While this and other similar programs are great opportunities for journalists to develop business skills and business models, they seem to be limited to local news projects “in the public interest.”

I’ve thought of applying for this program because I’ve heard so many good things about it from those who attended a year ago, but I wonder if a sports topic wouldn’t be deemed serious enough for consideration. While I’m fine-tuning the content model for my site — which is my area of strength — I’m also boning up on e-mail marketing, approaching potential vendors and freelancers, laying out long-range plans and suggesting revenue models.

There are several other journalists who also have begun sites in my sliver of the niche sports universe. While it makes my project more challenging, it’s a terrific sign of the interest and need to help replace what’s disappearing from newspapers. But the business end of this is all new stuff for many of us.

The extension of good sports journalism online may not be vital to democracy, but it’s certainly something that attracts great interest from the public.

Between the corporate dominance of ESPN and the cynicism and snark of Deadspin is plenty of fertile ground for vibrant, independent voices to emerge.