Experts consider the future of sports news

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Experts consider the future of sports news
Mar 6, 2020

The digital era brings a constant stream of new and innovative ways to inform, entertain and reach audiences. These advancements in technology demand that the platforms, and the people, who deliver the news keep up.

At the Povich Center’s March 4 panel — titled “Newspapers and Sports Departments: What is the Future?” — news executives and educators gathered to discuss the changing newspaper industry and to take up the question: What’s next?

The panel included Sam Davis, managing editor of the Baltimore Sun; Matt Vita, sports editor of the Washington Post; Gene Policinski, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute; Tom Rosenstiel, co-founder of the Project for Excellence in Journalism; and Adrianne Flynn, director of internships and career development at Merrill College.

As a preface to the panel, Povich Center director George Solomon said the rapid changes in the news industry “are causing concern to those of us worried about the future of the newspaper business.” While the panelists sympathized with that concern, they collectively shared a belief that the future was not bleak but rather filled with new career paths and ways of storytelling — especially in sports.

“Journalism is alive and well,” Policinski said. “I am still convinced that people will need news.”

Traditional ways of providing the news are expanding into new horizons as younger generations seek the information they want through different channels, according to Policinski.

“In the end, people want news and information, and they’re going to gravitate to the sites that they trust over time,” Policinski said.

Still, the number of newspapers is decreasing, particularly local newspapers that served smaller communities. Solomon referenced a UNC-Hussman School of Journalism and Media study that found that one in five U.S. newspapers had shut down since 2004.

However, sports are considered a great unifier in the news industry, the panelists agreed. Whether at the level of small communities or international competitions, people care about what’s going on in the sports they love, and more jobs are being created every day within and outside of newsrooms to help bring readers and fans closer to their favorite sports and teams.

“Conservatives read the same stuff as liberals, young people read the same stuff as old people,” Rosenstiel said. “It is a common public square, and it’s something that people who are really interested in it will read a lot about it.”

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