Sport for Business has contributed to a major feature in today’s Irish Times looking at the changing nature of how sporting teams are engaging directly with fans and in many ways bypassing traditional media.
It is a tricky area for traditional media to cover. Obviously, the interests of a newspaper, in print and online, include bringing news to fans around the big games and the big sporting events.
If they are getting that news of teams and behind the scenes content directly from clubs and players via social media delivered into the palm of their hand then the need to buy that news is lessened.
That may explain the headline which reads ‘Is social media denying fans the real news from sports teams?’
It could be argued that for most fans the ‘real news’ is more about who is playing and what is the score, but the piece does give a balanced look at the drive for control versus the need that remains for an independent media.
Sport for business CEO Rob Hartnett is quoted as saying “What has happened is that sports organisations now have channels and capacity to get a message out to an audience that is listening.”
“Is that sanitised? Well, yes, because you’re not going to be upfront about something that is challenging. What newspapers see as news is what a sports organisation might see as a problem. What they see as news is things such as content from inside the camp, naming the team and the like.”
“There’s no doubt that with where we are at the moment there’s an absolute need for independent media to prod and to get under the skin of what’s actually being said. Again, you look at just very recent history and if it wasn’t for Mark Tighe and The Sunday Times reporting on the FAI then we might very well be in a completely different place with the FAI. That was never going to be the thing that they distributed themselves. They haven’t been bad at telling their side of it but it never would have come out if it hadn’t been for a strong independent media.”
There is an irony in that the Times Ireland edition is shortly to shut down because of declining sales. The latest figures showed that they were selling only around 3,000 copies a day, not dissimilar in reality to the readership of Sport for Business but ours is directed at a much more niche audience.
The piece by Ruardhi Croke also quotes Dr Merryn Sherwood from La Trobe University who says that “I think the big issue though is do fans care? Do people care if their news is coming directly from clubs? And I don’t think we really know that yet because it’s still quite rare for clubs to cut off access completely. So I don’t think fans potentially understand the implications of what’s happening.”
Croke finishes off the article by posing a question. “There’s no doubt that consumers now receive more insight into the sports world than ever before thanks to social media. However, the question is: when does more insight become less knowledge of what’s actually going on?”
That is one where the answer has yet to be written
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