Sports Journalism: Self-Censorship, Ethics and Lived Experience in the Digital Era

Bradshaw, Tom ORCID: 0000-0003-0780-416X (2020) Sports Journalism: Self-Censorship, Ethics and Lived Experience in the Digital Era. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/SESQ0001

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Abstract

This thesis examines the major ethical issues experienced by UK sports journalists in the course of their practice in the modern digital media landscape, with a particular focus on selfcensorship. In tandem, it captures the lived professional experience of sports journalists in the digital era. My own professional experience is considered alongside the experiences of interviewees and diary-keepers. Initially, an exploratory case study of the work of investigative journalist David Walsh is used to highlight key ethical issues affecting sports journalism. A Kantian deontological theoretical perspective is articulated and developed. Qualitative approaches, specifically Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and autoethnography, are then used to provide an original analysis of the research objectives, enhanced by philosophical analysis. Ten in-depth, semi-structured interviews are conducted with a homogeneous sample of UK sports journalists, while diaries kept by three different journalists provide another seam of data. Reflective logs of my own work as a sports journalist provide the basis for autoethnographic data. The main log runs for two-and-half years (2016- 19) with a separate additional log covering the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. The semistructured interviews, diaries, autoethnography and case study are synthesized. The thesis explores how social media has introduced a host of ethical issues for sports journalists, not least the handling of abuse directed at them. Social media emerges as a double-edged sword. One of its most positive functions is to raise the standard of some journalists’ output due to the greater scrutiny that reporters feel they are under in the digital era, but at its worst it can be a platform for grotesque distortion and for corrupting sports journalists’ decision-making processes. Self-censorship of both facts and opinions emerges as a pervasive factor in sports journalism, a phenomenon that has been intensified by the advent of social media. Sports journalists show low engagement with codes of conduct, with the research suggesting that participants are on occasion more readily influenced by self-policing dynamics. This project captures vividly sports journalists’ personal involvement and emotional investment in their work, and reconsiders the ‘toy department’-versus-watchdog classification of sports journalists. The thesis concludes with recommendations for industry, including the introduction of formal support for sports journalists affected by online abuse.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Ryall, Emilyeryall@glos.ac.ukhttps://www.glos.ac.uk/staff/profile/emily-ryall/
Cable, Jonathanjcable@glos.ac.ukhttps://www.glos.ac.uk/staff/profile/jonathan-cable/
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sports journalism; Media ethics; Self-censorship; Codes of conduct; Kant; Deontology, David Walsh
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN4699 Journalism
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Sport and Exercise
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 18 May 2021 12:54
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 21:54
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/9700

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