No Access, No Travel, and No Relationship Building: Sportswriters’ Assessments of Content Production in the Absence of Live Sports Due to COVID-19

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Patrick C. Gentile The University of Alabama

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Nicholas R. Buzzelli The University of Alabama

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Sean R. Sadri The University of Alabama

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Nathan A. Towery The University of Alabama

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When the sports world abruptly shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sports journalists were left without live events to cover. To better understand how sports reporters adapted to these unforeseen circumstances, 23 in-depth interviews were conducted with American sports journalists working at local and national newspapers to acquire firsthand accounts of story topics, newsgathering procedures, and impacts on the industry moving forward. Three main themes emerged from the interviews: lack of access to players and coaches, remote newsgathering, and a temporary move to other departments in the newsroom, which required the sportswriters to be more creative. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Gentile is with the Department of Communication Studies, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA. Buzzelli, Sadri, and Towery are with the Department of Journalism and Creative Media, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA.

Gentile (pcgentile@crimson.ua.edu) is corresponding author.
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