To Fix Sports Journalism in Alaska

To Fix Sports Journalism in Alaska
May 5, 2017 Aaron Walling

Monroe Catholic’s Scooter Bynum, center, is fouled by Anchorage Christian’s Augustus Simmers, left, and defended by Bobby Wilson (5) in the Class 3A Alaska state high school basketball championships final,s Saturday, March 23, 2013, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)


To Fix Sports Journalism in Alaska

    Sports media has been kind of an afterthought in the state of Alaska. The state has limited connection with itself in this area, but there is a way to fix it.

    Now Jill Abramson, a former leader in the newsroom from the Times, spoke that clickbaiting doesn’t affect journalism, from a Wired article by Gabriel Snyder. That it ultimately comes down to the reader what they want to read. However, how can they chose what to read if there isn’t any option for them? That is the problem we see in sports journalism in the state of Alaska. When it comes to the Iditarod, this event is covered by many news outlets in the state. From the Anchorage Daily News, to smaller publications like the Sun Star, events like this get all of the attention. Compare it to the coverage, for say farm league baseball and high school basketball, it becomes a barren land.

    This isn’t to say that there isn’t coverage, but based off the amount of coverage there is in the state, it could be better. A positive way to fix this, is by using freelancers in the small villages and having database of the scores from these games. This was a prevalent issue that I discovered during my coverage of the Alaska State Tournament in Anchorage for high school basketball. Think about what it could be like to connect all the different villages in terms of the scores, stats, etc. where the reporters can access and draw conclusions from it or do research on a team?

    An example of this comes from ESPN’s website about the new recruits coming into college basketball, with that other reporters and publications can look at it as well and bolster their work. To get on a smaller scale, we can look at how the high school association for Indiana compares to that of Alaska’s. Indiana’s provides scores and other links from the season, which helps reporters out. Indiana prides itself in basketball, and Alaska says the same but their website is more minimal. It isn’t user friendly to follow the for the reader, which makes it difficult for reporters to derive information off of it.

    Now money is always an issue, especially in our state which is suffering from a budget crisis. That’s why with the rise in freelance reporting, you can capitalize on that notion and bring the state together for sports media. Think about a reporter using the info from a spreadsheet, this would give the person a stronger case for their story. If I said that the team struggled from three, and the reader could see the data, then it would bolster my article. ESPN does this greatly with their sister website, 538.  That’s why I believe it is time to fix sports media here in Alaska.   

Aaron Walling
Aaron Walling is a senior at the University of Alaska Fairbanks studying Journalism. He is also a freelance writer for the Sun Star, where he covers everything to do with Nanook sports at UAF. He also works as an undergraduate research assistant, assisting Communication's Public Speaking program. Aaron was born and raised in a military family.


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