Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Listen to Red Barber

During his 33-year career Walter Lanier "Red" Barber became the recognized master of baseball play-by-play, impressing listeners as a down-to-earth man who not only informed but also entertained with folksy colloquialisms such as “in the catbird seat,” “pea patch,” and “rhubarb” which gave his broadcasts a distinctive flavor. Click and here to learn more and here to listen to some of his broadcasts.

History of Sports and TV broadcasts

The history of sports on U.S. television is the history of sports on network television. Indeed, that history is closely related to the development and success of the major television networks. "Television got off the ground because of sports," reminisced pioneering television sports director Harry Coyle. He coninued, "Today, maybe, sports need television to survive, but it was just the opposite when it first started. When we (NBC) put on the World Series in 1947, heavyweight fights, the Army-Navy football game, the sales of television sets just spurted."

With only 190,000 sets in use in 1948, the attraction of sports to the networks in its early period was not advertising dollars. Instead, broadcasters were looking toward the future of the medium, and aired sports as a means of boosting demand for television as a medium. They believed their strategy would eventually pay off in advertising revenues. But because NBC, CBS and DuMont manufactured and sold receiver sets, their more immediate goal was to sell more of them. Sports did indeed draw viewers, and although the stunning acceptance and diffusion of television cannot be attributed solely to sports, the number of sets in use in the U.S. reached ten and a half million by 1950.

To read the rest of this article, click here or go to this URL http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/S/htmlS/sportsandte/sportsandte.htm

Friday, June 15, 2007

Puffed Rice: It's time to re-evaluate a sportswriting classic.

By Coke Ellington
Ellington teaches journalism at Alabama State University.

Picture this. You're teaching a journalism course and one of your students turns in a sports story that leads with an allusion to Jewish and Christian eschatology.
The writer uses a simile that first makes one of the teams a cyclone sweeping the other off a precipice. Then the cyclonic team becomes a tank with the speed of a motorcycle. It seems the "four whirlwind backs..carry the mixed blood of the tiger and the antelope." The winning team's line "was just about as tottering as the Rock of Gibraltar."

One of the winning team's backs "traveled those last 12 yards after the manner of food shot from guns."

As you read the student's story, you notice a dozen players and two coaches given only a surname on first reference, although two of them subsequently gain first names.

Objectivity? Forget about it. A backfield is "one of the greatest..that ever churned up the gridiron in any football age." "One of the best of all punters" kicks out of bounds and a "brilliant fake works to perfection."

After reading all that, what would you tell the student?

Read the rest of this article from the American Journalism Review on Grantland Rice's famous story by clicking here.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Here's the class syllabus

JOU/CMN 3953 • Summer 2007

PROFESSOR: Joe Gisondi • jgisondi@gmail.com
OFFICE : Buzzard 1831 • Student Publications office
HOURS : MWR noon-1 p.m.
PHONE : 581-6016
Grantland Rice and His Heroes: The Sportswriter as Mythmaker in the 1920s (Mary Inabinett), The Broadcasters (Red Barber), No Cheering in the Press Box (Jerome Holtzman), The Best American Sports Writing of the Century (David Halberstam/Glenn Stout), The Best American Sports Writing 2006 (Michael Lewis/Glenn Stout)
On reserve (3-hours in Booth)
The Old Ball Game • Frank DeFord
Unforgivable Blackness • Geoffrey Ward

Will be announced in class. Students will be expected to get these supplemental articles from Booth Library in a timely fashion.

In this course, we will examine the impact sports and the mass media have had (and are continuing to have) on one another and on American society. This course focuses on the history of sports journalism, especially in print and broadcast, and on the state of these fields today.

Students will be able to:
  • understand the importance of sports to the mass media
  • understand the work of sports journalists, as well as how the sports writing and broadcasting have evolved.
  • understand the history and contributions of women and minorities to sports media
  • understand how athletes, regardless of gender and race, have been portrayed by sports journalists
  • understand the ethical dilemmas faced by sports journalists, as well as how these challenges should be handled

Each student is expected to be in complete compliance with the college policy on academic honesty as set forth in the admissions catalog and the student handbook. Any student cheating on an exam will receive a zero on the exam. It is expected that all course work and papers submitted will be the student’s original work.

Students are expected to be in class on time and remain until the dismissal. Absences are unexcused when the professor has not been notified of the reason within 24 hours of the scheduled class meeting. When absent, please contact a fellow student to find out what was missed; therefore, it is important for you to become well acquainted with someone in this class. You are responsible for all material covered or assigned during classes, which means you will be responsible for materials on quizzes the following class. All assignments are due on time. Your grade on late assignments will drop one full letter grade for every day that it is late. I do not accept assignments by e-mail. In addition, cell phones should be turned off before entering class.

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of disability, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 581-6583.

Research paper/20
Assignments & quizzes/30
Participation & attendance/10

Exams – The midterm and final exams will consist of short response, fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice and essay questions. You are responsible for all materials covered in the texts, videos and lectures. There will not be a review session before tests so you should read and watch all assigned materials, take comprehensive notes, and review notes and reading materials before the assigned exams.
Assignments/quizzes – This includes short papers, quizzes, and analysis of the sports show “It’s Only A Game.” This National Public Radio show offers an eclectic mix of mainstream sports news and off-beat coverage, such as features on dodge ball or wiffleball. You will also be asked to read (and evaluate) selected chapters or stories from class texts. All papers should include strong statements, clear reasons, and specific examples to illustrate your points. All papers should include your name, assignment name and a title. In addition, all class assignments need to be double-spaced and typed in 12-point Times New Roman (which is used here.)
Class participation – You will be assessed both on your class attendance and the quality of your comments in class. You lose 10 points (out of 100) for every class you miss.
Research Paper – You will be required to investigate an issue related to sports and the media. This topic must be approved by the instructor before you can begin on it. In addition, the paper must be submitted both as a printed copy and as a Microsoft Word attachment, so it can be vetted through www.turnitin.com. This Web site helps instructors and students ensure that papers are not plagiarized, nor filled with an over-reliance on just a few sources. Feel free to submit your paper at this site ahead of time so you can learn how to better analyze and present your ideas from academic sources. This paper needs to be five to eight pages in length, double-spaced, include one-inch margins and typed using Times New Roman in 12-point type. A Works Cited/Bibliography page is also required for this term paper that is due July 13. You should use a minimum of five credible sources for this paper. You will also use footnotes when citing information on this (and any other paper.) The paper will be reduced one full letter grade for every day it is late, so, please, make sure you submit this paper to me in the proper format by 11 a.m. on July 13.

Some possible topics
  • Language of sports writing or sports broadcasting. This paper could focus on historical or contemporary usage.
  • Pioneers in sports journalism. This paper could focus on challenges faced by early women or black sports journalists, among others.
  • Ethics in sports journalism.
  • The role of Internet in sports journalism.
  • Current state of sports journalism. This paper can could address issues or problems related to the way sports are currently covered. Or this paper could analyze some aspects of sports journalism, such as space devoted to women’s athletics or the manner in which high school sports are covered.
  • Impact of blogs on sports journalism.
  • Local TV sports. How local TV stations adapted to sports coverage provided by ESPN, CBSSportsline.com and other content providers.
  • How athletes are portrayed in advertising.
  • Compare how a single story or issue was covered across several media
A = 90% to 100%
B = 80% to 89%
C = 70% to 79%
D = 60% to 69%
F = Below 60%

This syllabus may be changed at any time during the semester by announcement of the instructor.

June 11/Role of sports journalism
  • Relationship of sports and the media
  • Review sports media coverage on television, radio, print and online today
  • Listen to “It’s Only A Game” (complete in-class writing assignment)
  • Read story in class from Best Sportswriting of the Twentieth Century.
  • Watch “Media & Sports”
June 13/Pioneers and contemporaries in sports journalism
  • Read chapters on Paul Gallico and Red Smith in No Cheering in the Press Box. (Be prepared to write on these two chapters at the start of class.)
  • Early evolution of sports language: Read chapters in The Old Ball Game, pp. 11-48. (Be prepared to write on these two chapters at the start of class.)
  • Early television sports: Watch “When It Was A Game” (HBO)
  • Listen to this week’s edition of NPR’s “It’s Only A Game,” which can be downloaded or listened to at www.onlyagame.org. (Write an analysis of the topics chosen. Also, address the style in which the stories are presented. Discuss how the topics and presentation differ or copy sports stories presented elsewhere. This is due at 11 a.m. Friday, June 15.)
June 18/Impact of Grantland Rice and other sportswriters in the ‘Golden Age of Sports’
  • Read Grantland Rice and His Heroes. Write 3-5 page analysis paper on this book, which is due at the beginning of class. Use footnotes for citations.
  • Watch “Baseball: National Heirloom, 1920-1930,” which focuses on those who played in the 1920s-1930s
  • Read any story in Best Sportswriting of the Twentieth Century. (Write analysis of any story, which is due at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 22.)

June 20/Learn more about the profession of sports journalism
  • Attend the Associated Press Sports Editors national convention in St. Louis. This is a partnership with the Mid-America Press Institute that will allow us to interact with some of the top sports journalists and editors in the country. The session is scheduled for June 20-23 at the Renaissance Hotel in St. Louis. We would attend the conference all day on June 20. (Write 3-5 page paper on 1-2 issues addressed in more than one session. Or, you can write two 3-page summaries on two sessions. Take notes and use direct/indirect quotes.)
June 25/Role of the press in the integration of baseball
  • Discuss issues and ideas from APSE convention.
  • Read chapter on Wendell Smith in No Cheering In The Press Box, pp. 312-324
  • Read “Jim Crow Baseball Must End” in Blackout: The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Spring Training
  • Watch chapter of Ken Burns’ documentary “Baseball: Shadow Ball,” which focuses on those who played in the Negro Leagues
June 27/Mid-term
  • Arrive on time, bring paper and writing instruments. No late exams will be given.
July 2/Pioneers in sports broadcasting: The effect of radio & television on sports
  • Read selected chapters from The Broadcasters, pp. 3-53, 87-121, 161-182, 225-242
  • Read “The Roone Revolution” in Winning is the Only Thing: Sports in America since 1945
  • Watch “40th anniversary of Wide World of Sports,” which focuses on the evolution of TV Sports through what is, arguably, the most significant sports show in TV history.
July 4/Holiday
  • Enjoy some barbecue, relax, and watch some fireworks.
July 9/Research Day
  • Work on research papers. Research papers are due 11 a.m. on Friday, July 13. You can submit these in the journalism department or in my office. Papers submitted after this deadline are considered late.
July 11/Ethics & Women in the Media
  • Review examples of ethical dilemmas in sports coverage. Develop plans for addressing several of these for an in-class assignment.
  • Review the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics
  • Read selected chapters from Red Rose Crew, pp. 15-29, 36-48, 82-98
  • Discuss Rutgers-Imus case. Critique newspapers for coverage of women’s athletics. Bring two newspapers to class: USA Today and Charleston Times-Courier. These must be the July 10 editions of these newspapers. Failure to bring both copies will result in a ‘0’ on the in-class assignment that focuses on how women are portrayed by the media and how, subsequently, they are perceived by the public.
July 16/Early impact of the media
  • Case study: Jack Johnson
  • Read chapters in Unforgiveable Blackness, pages 166-221. (Answer response questions.)
  • Watch “Unforgiveable Blackness” in class
July 18/Final
  • Arrive on time, bring paper and pen. No late exams will be given.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Media - Images and Words In Women's Sports: The Foundation Position

Read the following article on how words and images can greatly affect women athletes. The Women's Sports Foundation has a wealth of information on issues related to the portrayal of female athletes in the media. The first few paragraphs are offered below. Click here to read the entire article.

Media - Images and Words In Women's Sports: The Foundation Position
In 1994, the Women’s Sports Foundation issued “Words to Watch,” guidelines for treating male and female athletes equally in sports reporting and commentary. This publication was developed in response to a number of events in which media were criticized for sexist comments made during network broadcasts or in newspaper and magazine coverage of women’s sports. The guidelines were distributed to electronic and print media on the Foundation’s media list and by request. “Words to Watch” was adapted with permission of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sports, 1994. Section II of this publication remains as “Words to Watch.”

In response to numerous questions and criticisms of the visual and narrative portrayal of female athletes on television and female athlete imagery appearing in print media, the Foundation has expanded its “Words to Watch” publication to incorporate imagery and to raise pertinent issues related to authentic and realistic reporting about and depiction of girls and women in sports and fitness. “Images to Watch” was added to this publication in October of 1995 and the main title revised accordingly (see Section I of this publication).

This publication also includes a new section written specifically for female athletes who are asked to participate in electronic and print media advertising or other projects. This section (see Section III) was designed to educate athletes about their rights as models and to provide ethics guidelines for decision-making related to their participation in advertising and other visual and written programming regarding how they are portrayed. These guidelines were reviewed by over 50 of the nation’s most highly visible champion female athletes.

Also new to the publication is a section on “Most Often Asked Questions About Media Coverage of Women in Sports.” The Foundation answers approximately 100,000 inquiries a year on women’s sports. These questions range from, “I’ve just moved to Kansas City. How do I find a youth soccer team for my daughter?” to media questions like, “What is wrong with wanting to portray women as feminine and physically attractive?” Section IV contains the answers to the questions most often asked of the Foundation about media coverage of women’s sports.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gender on the Sports Page

One of the most notable trends in sports over the past thirty years is the increasing prominence of women in sports at the amateur, collegiate and professional levels. In 1971, the year before Title IX was passed, there were fewer than 30,000 women competing in college sports. Today, there are nearly 150,000. Professional leagues likes the WNBA and WUSA have created superstars such as Diana Taurasi and Mia Hamm. Despite this growth, it appears individual women as well as female teams are still relatively marginal in the world of newspaper sports reporting. Click here to read rest of the story.

Poynter on Imus-Rutgers

Here is an excerpt from a story in the Newark, New Jersey newspaper, The Star Ledger.