Journalists and newsrooms find themselves in an unprecedented situation with COVID-19 cases increasing throughout the world and sports fixtures being suspended or cancelled by government action or on the initiative of sporting organisations.
Michael Giarrusso, the Global Sport sports editor for the Associated Press and a Vice Chair at the News Media Coalition, emphasises that the ongoing list of cancelled fixtures was causing a significant editorial challenge at times: “We had several occasions where I had to say that we have to stop filing so many separate stories and find a way to wrap this up for readers and customers in a way that’s digestible because there’s almost too much.”
Giarrusso stated that newspapers used to printing box scores and other agate will likely just have to do without with no results to report. AP sports reporters will be expected to work on evergreen or longform stories — but AP customers will still rely on them for some stories: “The uncertainty around this event and how the league and the teams will come back from the leagues and the teams will come back does create a lot of question and a lot of demand from readers. If we find smart ways to be able to answer them, despite not having the regular access that we’re used to, then sports journalism will be doing a great service to those readers.”
Giarrusso expressed his concern that the temporary restrictions imposed on journalists on how they report on sport events (the few going ahead) could remain in place once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides: “We’re not going to have the very regular access that we’re used to. That access, I hope, is only temporarily being taken away. Reporters are going to need to be more thoughtful and aggressive and smart about using other ways to get information. And the best reporters have been doing that for decades. They don’t rely on the podium to get their questions answered.”