Report: Sports bloggers believe attitude, approach set them apart

July 10, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- A majority of bloggers who comment daily about college and professional sports online do not see themselves as professional reporters, but they do believe their work fills a void left by mainstream media.
 
According to a survey of more than 210 bloggers conducted by the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State, 75 percent said they do not see themselves as rivals of professional journalists.
 
In fact, just 40 percent have ever applied for a credential to a sporting event and only 30 percent have ever included any "original reporting," such as attending games and news conferences or interviewing athletes or coaches, in their blogs.
 
At the same time, 85 percent say their blogs are a form of sports journalism. Most say their approach -- with an emphasis on attitude and commentary -- provides something sports fans cannot get elsewhere.

“In some key ways, sports bloggers align themselves with professional journalists," said Marie Hardin, an associate professor at Penn State and the Curley Center’s associate director for research. “Most do not have journalism or newsroom experience, but seven in 10 said they’d take a job at a mainstream outlet if it offered one."

But bloggers see their obligations differently, Hardin added. Although 96 percent of the bloggers expect mainstream journalists to practice high ethical standards and responsibility, only 79 percent set that standard for themselves.
 
The independent bloggers included in the survey were not affiliated with newspapers, radio or TV stations, or outlets such as ESPN or Yahoo; 214 bloggers participated in phone surveys about their work, and their responses provided the basis for the report.
 
More than half of respondents said they spend at least two hours a day on their blogs. Thirty-one percent of bloggers said baseball was their focus, making it perhaps the most popular subject in the sports “blogosphere” ahead of football (16 percent), hockey (12 percent) and basketball (10 percent).
 
No matter the sport, bloggers believe their approach sets them apart -- 60 percent said “attitude” is essential for good blogs, and 63 percent believe blogs provide an equal playing field for opinion and commentary.

Hardin said those attributes -- the creativity and interactivity -- drive blogs’ popularity.

“But bloggers also draw scrutiny because they may not verify information or apply standard news judgment,” Hardin added. “This could be a result of inexperience and lack of journalistic training. As more bloggers seek credentials, we will likely see them more strongly adhere to the values of professionals. But that doesn’t mean they have to discard what makes them popular.”

The survey found 90 percent of bloggers were men, and a majority were under the age of 40. Sixty-two percent have graduated from college, 29 percent with graduate degrees, and about 20 percent earned a journalism degree or worked for campus media.

The phone survey was conducted by students in COMM 412 Sports, Media and Society, which is taught by Hardin. Bu Zhong, an assistant professor in the College of Communications, conducted the analysis.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 28, 2017