chapter  15
15 Pages

The view from the pressbox: rose-tinted spectacle?: Rob Steen


Many academics believe, in terms of stories covered and published, that sportswriters are compliant and conservative, too frequently guilty of peddling ‘soft’ news at the expense of so-called investigative journalism (in itself something of a misplaced accusation: every journalist I have ever met prides him/herself on getting to the heart, i.e. truth, of every story, so long as space permits). Others, such as Raymond Boyle and Richard Haynes, whose excellent analyses of sports journalism have been greatly enhanced by interviews with leading practitioners such as Eamonn Dunphy and Richard Williams (Boyle and Haynes 2009), recognise the difficulties and compromises that face their subjects. It is not my intention, as a lecturer in sports journalism and still-practising sportswriter, to get into a slanging match. Nor does this chapter purport to be a potted history of Olympic reporting. Rather, it examines the context in which recent and contemporary sport spectacles such as the Olympics are represented by print journalists, and the professional pressures in the world of sport reporting that affect the pitch and tone of the journalistic product. The primary aim is to offer an insight into the changing nature of sports journalism, by considering how the modern press views the Olympics, how complex reporting the Games can be, and how partisan – in terms of both nationalism and sport itself – the English press is likely to be in 2012.