viernes, 26 de junio de 2020

Murad Ahmed (FT Sports Editor): "We follow the money, not the ball"

Murad Ahmed. Source: LinkedIN.

Murad Ahmed is the first Sports Editor at Financial Times. Historically sports content had been part of the leisure industry coverage at this newspaper. Two years ago Ahmed proposed his bosses to cut sports out of the leisure department because for him it was clear that the sports coverage was distinct and needed more dedication. His argument was accepted and a new job was created in the newsroom.

Since then he is the lead correspondent covering sport for the Financial Times, writing news and long reads across all sections of the paper. He also steers the work of the FT's sports business reporters as the co-founder and editor of Scoreboard, the FT's new weekly premium newsletter and mini-brand covering the business of sport. He is also the co-chair and co-founder of the FT Business of Football summit, a leading annual conference run by Financial Times.

Prior to becoming Sports Correspondent in 2018, Murad Ahmed had been covering the gambling, hotels, restaurants and tourism industries as Leisure Correspondent for the Financial Times since 2016. He joined the FT in July 2014 after nearly eight years of covering general news, business and technology for The Times of London. 

- How important is now the sport coverage within the Financial Times strategy?
- We have recently made some investment in this area. I want to differentiate what we do compared to others in both in the U.K. and across the world. There is a lot of great sports journalism and great sports writing out there. And we have some of that in the FT. We don't have any backpages or a dedicated sport section. But we've got great writers on sport like Simon Kuper, who would be amongst the best in the world at writing. 
But what I'm focused on is building a team here for the coverage of the business of sport, which is less well covered and less well in detail by anyone else. And that's an understandable thing, because sports journalists are covering the game, covering the action. We have a phrase internally which we keep using, which is 'We follow the money, not the ball'. And that, I think, gives us an opportunity and an advantage if we use it correctly.
So our recent investment was to create what we're calling a mini-brand, a vertical called Scoreboard, which is designed to house our best sports business content. And we're kicking off with it with a newsletter subscribers, which comes out every Saturday morning. We hired two great reporters, Sam Agini in London and Sara Germano in New York, to work alongside me, as well as we build coverage of the sector. So I guess its importance is shown by our desire at FT to continue to do more and have greater depth on this subject.

The new FT weekly premium newsletter on the business of sport.

- And regarding Scoreboard within the FT strategy to draw more subscriptions, what's the role of the sports content and of this premium newsletter in particular?
- We have a subscription business and it's a relatively high subscription compared to other newspapers and journalistic platforms. But we think it's worth it. And we constantly want to give our readers more valued things that they previously didn't have. And we have seen through the journalism that we've already done previously that our audience does want more dedicated sports business journalism. So this is our latest offering for them. So it's a way of retaining subscribers and also a way of reaching out to a new audience who potentially haven't been FT's subscribers in the past. 
We see not only all these different executive around the sports industry who are sitting on the board of a football club or at the league or a sports organization, but also all the consultants, lawyers and accountants and everybody else who is around this ecosystem. You may not have had a place that you regularly went to for news or for dedicated analysis. And that's what we're trying to bring and attract over time to convince them that they should also have an active subscription.
And then we hope over time to build Scoreboard and sports business journalism into other ventures which aid to become part of a wide FT business. I'm the Sports Editor and I haven't got nothing to do with the business at all. So I can't speak specifically for that. But it's definitely part of the plan from my bosses to build this into a wider franchise. So we already have the Business of Football conference, which we've run for two years, and we're one of the co-founders of that. It's an annual gathering of football executives from across the world and particularly from Europe. This is a high-quality gathering and we want to do more events like that and continue to build that one into a bigger, better summit and become a flagship event that everyone in the industry looks forward to. We think we have potential to do more in the future around the corner of the Scoreboard brand.

"Our audience does want more sports business journalism. We created the mini-brand Scoreboard to house our best sports business content. It's a way of retaining subscribers and reaching out to a new audience who potentially haven't been FT's subscribers in the past"

- Apart from that unique business of a sports approach you are developing at F.T., how important is data-driven techniques and dataviz in FT sports coverage? John Burn-Murdoch said here that 'there’s a golden opportunity for sports journalists to add more quantitative analysis to their repertoire to better serve their audience'...
- Yes, exactly. So I would say that me personally, in my role, so we've hired two people who are dedicated to sports business. As a FT Sports Editor, I am to concentrate on sports business stories and other kind of big news events. But every once in a while, I will do something that looks much closer to sports writing. Our advantage is to be a bit different. So when I do that sort of things, we like to have a more analytical take on things, we use deep statistical analysis. I work alongside people like John Burn-Murdoch, who is a brilliant data visualization journalist, and also knows how to crunch the numbers in interesting ways. And I'll do quite a lot of longform journalism taking interesting subjects and getting really into depth on them. 
You saw the recent story about Liverpool in which we did a kind of a tactical statistical analysis on how they built the club over recent seasons to be coming close to winning the Premier League. But I also go away and do things like a big piece I did about Athletic Bilbao. And that was a few days of reporting in Bilbao, it was more of a kind of historic and cultural look at the club, a longform journalism that takes a lot of time of research and most crucially good storytelling to pull that off. That's another part of the job and another part of our unique approach, because if we try and compete on just doing traditional sports journalism against all the rest of the sports press we would fail. So we're finding ways to differentiate ourselves.

"There isn't really a sports desk at Financial Times and we shouldn't pretend to have anything like that. We are a few people who are building now a broader business sports project and it will take time to become truly known for doing this"

- When was the sports desk created at FT and how many reporters' work do you steer at the moment?
- That's a funny question because there isn't really a sports desk at the FT, not in the traditional sense of the word. When I used to work at The Times of London there were 40 to 50 people who made up the sports department. We don't have anything like that at the FT and we shouldn't pretend to have that.
It's a shoestring operation in that sense: it's just me and a couple of people with support around the FT from people who cover mergers and acquisitions, private equity or global correspondents who every once in a while will help us report out great sports business stories to give a proper sense of how different a news may be for us. 
My role as Sports Correspondent was prior to becoming Sports Editor two years ago. Prior to that, the athlete did not have a dedicated sports correspondent at all. My job title at Financial Times was Leisure Correspondent and the Leisure Industries Correspondent historically, over the last 10 to 15 years, has whoever is in that role has covered things like the hotel sector, gambling companies, cruise ships, restaurants, all of these sorts of things, as well as sports. And but whoever had been doing the leisure industry's job had always been a quiet big sports fan and spent a lot of time covering sport. I was the first one to say, look, we should cut the sports role out of the leisure industry's role and have two different jobs. And that was an argument that was accepted because it was clear that the way we had begun to do our sports coverage was distinct and needed more focus and because that was working. 
We know internally that me and a few of the colleagues pitched a broader business sports project, and we're building that now. So there isn't really a sports desk, I would say. It's a few people in its early days seeing a plan to do it. And it'll take some time to become really, truly known for doing this. But we're starting to get a good following and we hope to do more.

- Scoreboard and this FT approach to sports coverage sticks out in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. These last months we have seen how lots of newsrooms transitioned sportswriters to new beats when the shutdown started. Now that competitions are returning, should have transitioned some business writers over to sports departments in order to report accurately on transfers, TV rights deals, sponsorships negotiations and other contracts regarding events, clubs and sportspeople?
- What has been interesting during the pandemic when there hasn't been any sport was that the only story there really was the sports business story. And there's nothing quite like a financial crisis for the FT to cover. There was a worry that we had nothing to do because there was no sport, but clearly that wasn't the case. We had lots to cover and it was interesting watching the rest of my colleagues across sports journalism really dive into the financial issues around the sport in a much more considered and in-depth way than had previously seen. I'd be interested to see if that carries on.
Always there's been a group of very serious, brilliant journalists across my trade who are focused on these issues and they're worth following. Tariq Panja at The New York Times or David Conn at The Guardian have been doing great stuff for a very long time. It's worth always investing in people who take any subject and cover it in depth and seriousness, that's for sure. At no point do I think we will we end up covering football transfer stories, because, let's be frank, although half of them are made up and mostly part of the negotiation between clubs are put out there by agents, we understand that the fans love them and want to read loads and loads of them.
On the other hand, I understand that the sports backpages are filled with transfer stories, but the numbers quoted after them are wrong or inaccurate and it leaves that kind of very sloppy practices. I would say that I don't know about the rest of sports journalism, but the FT has a reputation of being a trusted brand, a trusted newspaper with strong ethics and strong fact-checking. And so we are going to focus on the sorts of stories that we can prove and stand by and so we will continue to do the more in-depth, rigorous work. And if we get notice that others start doing more, they'll hopefully mean that we are up our game. But we don't mind if nobody else is doing it, because that gives us an opportunity to dominate the coverage of a particular subject which we think is undercovered.

lunes, 22 de junio de 2020

Twitter agrava la presencia marginal y estereotipada de las mujeres deportistas en la agenda temática de diarios especializados

Un nuevo estudio pone de manifiesto cómo las redes sociales no solo no están ayudando a paliar sino más bien a agravar la presencia marginal y estereotipada que las mujeres deportistas han padecido en las coberturas informativas de los medios deportivos tradicionales. 

La investigación titulada "The presence of female athletes and non-athletes on sports media Twitter", publicada recientemente en la revista Feminist Media Studies, constata, desde el punto de vista cuantitativo, la ya conocida escasa visibilidad de los logros deportivos femeninos en la agenda temática de la prensa deportiva y, desde un prisma más cualitativo, la proyección y perpetuación de sesgos sexistas en una cobertura en la que, paradójicamente, cobran igual o incluso mayor protagonismo las mujeres que no son deportistas.

El estudio analiza una muestra de 5.260 tuits publicados a lo largo de tres meses por las cuentas en Twitter de cuatro medios españoles: las secciones de Deportes de dos medios generalistas (@ElPais_Deportes y @ABC_Deportes) y dos diarios especializados (@Marca y @MundoDeportivo). Las principales conclusiones de este artículo son:

. Solo el 1,6% de los tuits publicados mencionan a alguna mujer deportista o equipo femenino.

. Este porcentaje es inferior aún en los diarios deportivos (1,29%), mientras que aumenta ligeramente en los diarios de información general (3,15%).

. El 51,75% de las menciones a mujeres en las cuentas de los diarios deportivos fueron para mujeres ajenas a la competición mientras que el 48,25% se refirieron a las deportistas.

. Por el contrario en los diarios generalistas la presencia de las mujeres suele ser abrumadoramente deportiva (82,86%).

. Entre las referencias a aspectos no deportivos de la mujer, predominan la familia (40%) o la presentación sexualizada de la protagonista (35,38%).

Estos resultados, por un lado, reflejan los mismos desequilibrios en las coberturas informativas del deporte femenino ya recogidos en estudios de género anteriores y en otros más recientes, en ediciones impresas y digitales de la prensa deportiva, como:

También corroboran una tendencia observada en los últimos años en las ediciones online de los diarios deportivos: el notable incremento de las noticias sobre esposas y novias de deportistas, y la consiguiente proyección de roles asociados de belleza, maternidad y dependencia del varón:

Al mismo tiempo, se advierte aquí, a modo comparativo, que el tratamiento informativo que suelen recibir las mujeres deportistas en medios generalistas es más respetuoso con su condición profesional, con menos referencias físicas o a la vida privada de las protagonistas que en las cabeceras deportivas:

Junto con todo ello, este estudio arroja una reflexión importante: las redes sociales no aminoran sino que agrandan los desequilibrios de género en la agenda temática y los sesgos sexistas en el tratamiento de mujeres deportistas en diarios que, por su propia naturaleza, deberían cubrirlas más y mejor acorde a sus resultados en las competiciones, siempre a partir de criterios de justicia informativa. 

Tampoco la incorporación de las nuevas tecnologías parece aquí que esté ayudando todavía lo suficiente para corregir una situación discriminatoria que el periodismo deportivo arrastra desde la era analógica. El efecto multiplicador que tiene Twitter a la hora de perpetuar y extender un mismo modelo androcéntrico de cobertura deportiva supone crear barreras que frenan u obstaculizan la transmisión de otros roles femeninos a la ciudadanía con los que contribuir a la construcción, también desde la información, de una sociedad más igualitaria.

viernes, 12 de junio de 2020

Nuevo radar académico sobre periodismo deportivo

El periodismo deportivo sobresale, cada vez más, como un ámbito de interés para el estudio en las universidades de todo el mundo. Por ello hace tres meses creamos en este blog un espacio, denominado Radar Académico, destinado a recoger y destacar la producción investigadora sobre esta especialidad periodística. De esta forma, aquí se analizan artículos publicados en revistas científicas, libros, tesis doctorales e incluso trabajos fin de máster y trabajos de fin de grado que se defiendan en instituciones universitarias.

Esta sección, que se anunció como espacio semestral en el primer radar, pasa a publicarse cada tres meses dado el gran volumen de publicaciones existente sobre la materia. A continuación resaltamos lo más relevante de lo observado, leído y analizado en estos últimos tres meses.

Tesis doctorales

Evolución del negocio de la prensa española (2011-2016) y visión de sus principales grupos editoriales ante la búsqueda de un nuevo modelo de negocio (texto completo)

Autor: Gonzalo Giráldez Quiroga

Universidad: Universidad Complutense

Año: 2020

Por qué es relevante

Esta tesis, leída a finales de 2019 aunque publicada a principios de este año, es una de las pocas defendidas en los últimos años desde una Facultad de Periodismo para abordar una cuestión esencial en el hoy y el futuro más inmediato de las empresas informativas: su modelo de negocio. En concreto, el estudio pone el foco en el sector más castigado y que padece un futuro más incierto: la prensa en papel. Se analiza la evolución de las audiencias de las cabeceras de los principales grupos mediáticos del sector y se incorpora la visión de otros medios solo digitales, competidores en la web.

Principales conclusiones

La investigación corrobora una sospecha: la necesidad de cambiar un modelo de negocio para la prensa que ha dejado de ser viable. Asimismo, se detalla cómo los líderes de los grupos editoriales están inmersos en la búsqueda de un modelo de negocio que incorpore nuevas vías de ingresos con el fin de lograr la rentabilidad al sector. El debate, que ahí sigue, reside no solo en que el pago sea la solución, sino en qué formula o modalidad de pago sea la más idónea, según el medio, el mercado y los contenidos periodísticos que se ofrezcan.

Artículos científicos

. Poaching the News Producers: The Athletic's Effect on Sports in Hometown Newspapers (texto completo)

Autores: Nicholas R. Buzzelli, Patrick Gentile, Andrew C. Billings & Sean R. Sadri

Revista: Journalism Studies - 2020 (publicado en línea)

Por qué es relevante

Se trata del primer artículo académico que se ha parado a analizar en profundidad el fenómeno de The Athletic, digital que desde su nacimiento en 2016 ha originado un cambio de paradigma en el periodismo deportivo. En este estudio de profesores e investigadores de la Universidad de Alabama realizan 22 entrevistas semiestructuradas a editores de Deportes de medios de EE.UU. Así analizan el impacto disruptivo de este medio, tanto en cuanto a su segmentación temática de contenidos (ligados a la cobertura de equipos profesionales de las grandes ciudades) como en cuanto a su modelo de negocio (pago por suscripción), en las coberturas deportivas que ahoran ofrecen periódicos y medios locales.

Principales conclusiones

Los periodistas entrevistados ponen de manifiesto que la apuesta decidida de The Athletic por identificar y valorar el talento y la superespecialización de los periodistas en cada ciudad, mercado y liga constituye el principal aspecto competitivo de este medio que a día de hoy le hace sobresalir tanto en el periodismo deportivo actual. Y a pesar de que reconocen que para ellos y sus medios The Athletic representa una amenaza, también consideran que este medio disruptivo está marcando el camino a seguir para el resto a la hora de buscar nuevos modelos que hagan más sostenible a este tipo de periodismo.

Percepción del periodismo deportivo de datos entre usuarios habituales. Estudio de caso del modelo predictivo de El País para el Mundial de Fútbol de 2018 (texto completo)

Autores: José Luis Rojas Torrijos y Jesus García Cepero

Revista: Revista Mediterránea de Comunicación, 2020- 12 (2) (en pre-print, el número se publica el 1 de julio)

Por qué es relevante

Este es un caso que pone de relieve el valor de un Trabajo Fin de Grado como primer estadio de la investigación en la Universidad. En este caso, un estudio innovador en la Facultad de Comunicación de la Universidad de Sevilla sirvió de base para llegar a este artículo científico que profundiza en el estudio de las inmensas posibilidades del periodismo de datos en la información deportiva. Más concretamente, se detiene en la aplicación, por primera vez en el diario El País, de un modelo matemático de predicción de resultados en una gran cobertura como el Mundial de fútbol de Rusia en 2018. Asimismo, evalúa el grado de aceptación y comprensión de esta metodología de estadística avanzada entre los consumidores más habituales (heavy users) de este tipo de información a partir de encuestas semiestructuradas a estudiantes universitarios de Periodismo Deportivo y periodistas deportivos de medios españoles.

Principales conclusiones

Los resultados del estudio ponen de manifiesto que el uso de estadística avanzada para informar de probabilidades en un torneo aún encuentra una difícil aceptación periodística y un desigual grado de entendimiento entre la audiencia. Pese a ello, el periodismo de datos es percibido mayoritariamente como una gran posibilidad para mejorar la diversidad y la calidad de las coberturas deportivas.


The Palgrave Handbook of Masculinity and Sport (enlace a contenidos de la obra)

Coordinadores: Rory Magrath, Jamie Cleland y Eric Anderson

Editorial: Palgrave McMillan (2020)

Por qué es relevante

Desde hace años se ha incidido en los estudios de género en el ámbito del deporte en general y de los medios deportivos en particular, de forma que la investigación académica se ha aproximado al periodismo deportivo también desde una visión interdisciplinar dentro de las Ciencias Sociales para hallar respuestas y explicaciones a ciertas conductas. Pero mientras ese enfoque ha sido predominantemente el de destacar la masculinización del deporte y sus medios, así como los sesgos discursivos sexistas que ahí se manifiestan, hay menos estudios sobre las diversas expresiones de la masculinidad que existen en el mundo del deporte. 

Así, en este libro, a lo largo de 30 capítulos, se aborda cómo el deporte se ha convertido, con carácter general, en una cultura cada vez más inclusiva y tolerante respecto a cualquier orientación sexual, si bien aún existen visiones homofóbicas y discriminatorias respecto a ciertos colectivos de deportistas. Para ello, esta obra incluye aportaciones sobre temas como la historia, el periodismo, la raza, la violencia o el comportamiento y la mentalidad de los fans, todo ello comparando modalidades y culturas deportivas en países tan diferentes como Suecia, Turquía, Zimbabwe, España o Perú.