Social Media & Sports Journalism

Social media has taken the world by storm. It has impacted the way we receive and share all kinds of news; from the weather, celebrity gossip, and politics, to who got engaged, who is having a baby and who just got divorced. Sports news is no stranger to social media either, as social media has had a large impact on sports journalism.

Related program: B.S. in Media Production, Management, and Technology

UF Online Infographic: Social Media & Sports Journalism

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How Did We Get Here?

Prior to the 1940s, newspapers were the way in which Americans received their sports news. In 1969, the Internet became available on a commercial basis. However, it was not until 1991 when the first weblogs were created. In 2003, MySpace and LinkedIn joined the online scene, followed by digg and Facebook in 2004. Suddenly, in 2004 newspapers were the least preferred primary news source for youth. YouTube added to the turn-away from printed media in 2005, followed by Twitter in 2006. In 2009, there were only 1,397 daily newspapers in circulation; a 21 percent drop from 1950. In 2013, there were 500 million registered Twitter accounts, 4 billion YouTube views per day, 300 million members on LinkedIn, 1.11 billion Facebook users and 492 million Tweets about sports events. In 2014, NBC Sports partnered with a video creation company to create a social media campaign for the Stanley Cup.

Social Media: The Current Sports Journalism

Over the past decade, sports journalism has experienced many changes thanks to social media. Some of these changes and facts may surprise you. Nearly a quarter of all journalists in the sports industry used the blogs of other journalist. The number of journalists using YouTube and other audiovisual social media services has grown to 20 percent. Over 10 percent are on Linked In and other professional media type sites. Twitter has had the most impact on sports journalism, with 54 percent of sports journalists using Twitter on a regular basis.

Why Social Media?

Sports journalism, as trivial as it may seem to some, faces a lot of challenges. These challenges can make social media more appealing. Some of the challenges include the pressure to get new and breaking information out to audiences quickly, the need to use a variety of mediums for content production, increased competition from other journalists and bloggers, and the need to maintain several social media accounts and blogs and to check them on a regular basis. Interestingly, as much as 73% of sports journalists admit to using social media to monitor their competition. To stay current in their reporting, journalist must use social media.

Sports journalists experience many benefits from using social media outlets for reporting, such as interaction with their readers, listeners and viewers. This creates a more personal connection. Another benefit is that social media can help tell journalists what stories are the most important and most followed by sports fans. Social media also helps promote the work of sports journalists.

On the other hand, social media also has its drawbacks for sports reporters, such as the potential for negative interactions with readers, viewers, and listeners. There can also be inaccuracies of data on social media outlets, as well as a non-professional and unofficial feel to journalist’s handles and accounts.


ESPN has been a huge presence on the social media scene. As of July of 2014, there were 26.5 unique followers across all ESPN Twitter accounts and 7.7 million tweets about ESPN sent by 1.96 million users. As of the same date, 2.6 million Facebook users had engaged with ESPN’s Facebook page. ESPN also saw over 39 million YouTube views, up from 66 percent in 2012.

Top Social Media Sports

As more sports reporters use social media to get news out, many sports become more popular on social media. For example, there were 459 million posts, likes and comments generated on Facebook during the first week of the World Cup 2014. While the Portuguese soccer state, Cristiano Ronaldo had 1.5 million mentions on Twitter during the game between the United States and Portugal.

Basketball is also a top contending sport of social media, with two-thirds of NBA players having a Twitter account of their own. The NBA is, in fact, the number one sports league on social media. The NBA finals generated 26 million tweets in 2014.

Football also has a large presence in social media, with nearly 25 million tweets sent about Super Bowl XLVIII. Over half of the commercials aired during Super Bowl XLVIII included some type of social hash tag. There have been 185 million interactions on Facebook about Super Bowl XLVIII.

There is no denying that social media has changed the way Americans receive and digest their sports news. It has also given them new and unique opportunities to interact with other fans, sports figures and sports journalists.