Attribution Scarcity in Fantasy Sports Journalism

By Mead Loop and Ryan Parkhurst.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The authors studied attribution in fantasy sports journalism covering the National Football League over a five-month period, from July 1, 2008, to Dec. 1, 2008, and examined two top fantasy sports content providers, The Sporting News Online and Yahoo! The authors coded how and whether sources of information were identified. In 188 articles coded, Yahoo! fantasy writers used attribution in 57% of articles while The Sporting News Online attributed in 16% of stories published. The most common source of citation to least common: no attribution at all; another news organization; colleague; independent media; and, finally, team source. Writers’ decision-making with regards to attribution was ad-hoc rather than company-directed. Traditional codes of journalism ethics advocate clarity in sourcing, yet fantasy sports reporting relies less on codes and more on individual wishes. Where codes are often used for disciplinary action by an employer, no action is apparent despite the disparity between those who source well and those who don’t. This study reinforced that the entertainment function of fantasy writing held a higher level of import than the information function. Whether a traditional content provider-turned fantasy sports provider, such as The Sporting News Online, or a “new media” fantasy sports provider, such as Yahoo!, made little difference regarding attribution usage. In fact, Yahoo! reporters attributed at three times the rate that The Sporting News Online reporters did. This study indicated that the genre of fantasy reporting trumps traditional journalistic standards of attribution.

Keywords: Fantasy, Sports, Writing, Attribution

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.43-54. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 644.811KB).

Prof. Mead Loop

Associate Professor, Department of Journalism, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, USA

Loop’s scholarship has been published in Mass Communication & Society; Newspaper Research Journal; Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly; and Journalism and Mass Communication Educator. Among his publications were award-winning refereed papers, “Creating a Journalism Culture” and “Ithaca College and Frederick Douglass Academy: A Journalism Partnership,” presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Before coming to teach at Ithaca College, Loop was national editor of the Nashville Banner newspaper. He has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia and a bachelor’s degree in television-radio from Ithaca College. He has served on the national board of directors of the Society of Professional Journalists since 2002. He also has served on the boards of Sigma Delta Chi Foundation and the National Scholastic Press Association.

Prof. Ryan Parkhurst

Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, USA