Is there a “Breaking News” problem in sports news?

As an aspiring sports journalist in the field of data and motor racing, studying a Media and Communication degree on the journalism pathway for two years now, one of the problems I have been having in the last year and a bit in terms of sports news on sports media outlets is the excessive use of “Breaking News” for sports stories that don’t fit the mould of “Breaking News”.

I’m still trying to figure out why so many sports media companies and organisations do this, but I have yet to reach the point of why they excessively use “Breaking News” for sports stories that have very little resemblance to telling the story in its simplest form and relying on speculation and rumours to get more online views.

James Moy, a well established F1 and motoring photographer tweeted about the F1 Media’s approach to breaking news stories:

Not only did I find this tweet spot on considering its from a well-respected F1 photographer, but it echoes the frustration I have with sports news in general. If sports journalists like myself are “guessing the news” as James Moy says to get a “Breaking News” sports story, are we misinforming sports fans and the dedicated anoraks to go towards articles that detract away from the main purpose of the story?

I’ve seen many times sports media outlets do this, and its not too dissimilar to clickbait journalism. If an article is purely there to generate online viewership and lose the main story in question, I do worry about the direction of sports journalism in general, but as most sports articles have a short lifespan, there’s only so much longevity a sports story can go before its considered old news.

Social media changing the game, rather the sporting game…..

Social media as well is changing the way we consume sports news. For example, Leicester City’s Premier League winning 2015-16 season as an example of how both platforms can work together to engage with millions of football fans. The Mirror reported that the Foxes’ first Premier League title received a staggering 406,190 retweets, which is the most retweeted sporting tweet in history.  If social media is used properly reporting on a story related to something historical or gets people talking, it can engage with millions of sports fans across the world.

To answer the question of “Is there’s a Breaking News problem in sports news”, I’d say there is in terms of legibility and speed, but the sports media have to recognise that rumour speculation and guessing for news is bad journalism. It devalues major sporting events being professionally covered and doesn’t do the main purpose of what sports journalists are there for in their role.

It’ll be interesting to know in the next decade or so where the future lies within sports news and sports journalists in general. I would like to see less sports stories that aren’t Breaking News or are not even news because it would mean better-quality sports news coverage that’s not so reliant on speed and inaccuracy. I would like to see that change happen within 5-6 years, but even then, its hard to predict what will happen for the future of sports journalists and media companies covering sport.

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