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This study examined contemporary daily sports journalism through the lenses of media sociology and new institutional theory. In-depth interviews with 25 sports journalists (reporters and editors) identified the institutionalized norms, values, practices, and routines of American sports journalism; demonstrated how that institutionalization affects story selection; and showed how the profession is changing due to digital and social media. The interviews show that although traditional sports journalism is highly institutionalized, digital sports journalism is far less so. Traditional sports journalism is still centered around a story, and digital sports journalism follows Robinson’s journalism-as-process model. The journalists interviewed are expected to perform acts of both traditional and digital journalism during the same workday, which leads to tension in how they do their jobs.
The author is with the Communication Studies Dept., SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY.