Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Old School Journalism does in Tressel

The big news from this Memorial Day weekend was the resignation of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel; not exactly a shocking piece of news considering the growing evidence of Buckeye wrongdoing under Tressel.

The latest issue of Sports Illustrated has an in-depth report on what happened at Ohio State, and digs even deeper into what has become a sordid affair. Particularly interesting is this section of the story: "Tressel was forced out three days after Sports Illustrated alerted Ohio State officials that the wrongdoing by Tressel's players was far more widespread than had been reported." Reading between the lines, SI is apparently taking credit for forcing Tressel's ouster.

There's nothing wrong with SI tooting its own horn, and it also shows the power of investigative sports journalism. Outlets like SI and ESPN's Outside the Lines have the power to effect significant change in sports. (Remember, it was SI that just a couple of years ago uncovered Alex Rodriguez' steroid use). ESPN's "30 for 30" series has also been effective in this regard; in the film on SMU, the newspaper wars in 1980s Dallas were credited with bringing down the school's renegade football program.

We talk a lot about the fragmentation of today's sports media--the growth of blogging, fan participation and do-it-yourself sports content. But there is still a place for "old school" investigative sports journalism--working sources, following leads and digging for information that may take months to find. In other words, serious work by trained journalists.

Woodward and Bernstein would be proud.


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