We’ve noted before that sports writers have an usual habit of giving away all their best scoops on Twitter.As last night’s flurry of breaking news proved, that trend is only continuing to escalate to the point that following the right combination of Twitterers is all the news you’ll ever need.
Anyone who waited to tune into the Vikings-Giants game to find out if Brett Favre would start was an hour behind everyone else.
If you were waiting for the late SportsCenter to give you updates on the Cliff Lee negotiations … too bad. Even after the news broke, ESPN spent more than 40 minutes talking about football before anyone came on TV to break down the Phillies’ big signing.
Meanwhile, Philly fans dialed into their Twitter feeds were already figuring out how to trade Joe Blanton.
But why does sports seem particularly susceptible to this phenomenon? Top political or entertainment reporters almost always wait until they have live blog posts before shouting their news. Meanwhile, guys like Adam Schefter have built careers out of getting there first with their tweets.
There are a few possibilities:
- Sports guys understand social media better than most journalists. Nearly every baseball and football writer worth reading has a Twitter account and uses it regularly. Athletes have taken advantage of the medium to bypass journalists altogether and talk directly to fans.
- Dudes don’t talk on the phone anymore. Athletes and agents text all their news bits to reporters, reporters ask for comment the same way. It’s just as easy to blast the news before anyone else gets to it.
- A lot of sports people have different conceptions of journalistic “codes” and are less likely to honour things like embargoes or exclusives.
But we think the biggest reason of all is the traditional constraints that sports teams continue to put on the reporters trying to cover them. Sports franchises constantly box reporters into media rooms and press boxes, giving them coordinated, pre-set times when they are allowed the honour of asking people questions.
Those constraints were designed to give every reporter equal access to all news and they’ve been more successful than possibly any other industry at delivering on that promise.
The result is that sports reporters are conditioned to the idea that all their competitors known everything they know at the same time they know it. The winner is the one who files the story fastest.
When they do have a true scoop, they can’t wait for their editor or web team to get the story up first. Twitter gives them the edge, and they’re going to use it.
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