Why sportswriters go soft on the teams they cover

In January, Boston media critic Alan Siegel took down sports journalists in the city in an article (The Fellowship of the Miserable) that reverberated through the sports departments of local media organizations nationwide. Siegel charged that the local scribes were going soft on the teams, coaches, players, and managers they were assigned to cover. He said there was no “creative analysis.”

This week, Jim Romenesko reports at his media site, there’s a good glimpse of why that is. It can get you fired.

It involves Ron Morris of The State, the McClatchy paper in Columbia, S.C., its publisher, and superstar football coach Steve Spurrier — in a state that’s all about football.

Morris and Spurrier have had a feud for years over the columns the sportswriter wrote. Last year, the coach threatened to quit if the paper didn’t ditch Morris.

The publisher tried to fire the columnist, but an editor intervened and the two reached a deal: Morris wouldn’t cover Spurrier and the football team anymore. He’s covering Clemson now.

The paper has now hired a writer who had previously written for the team’s booster-club publication. Spurrier claims he helped get him his new job at the newspaper, according to Romenesko.

  • Adam

    Now this is sports, if we substituted two nations at war with the football teams involved how would it sound? Nice job on the story.