Sports journalists show bias on Twitter

Sports journalists may show more bias on social media sites than they do in their newspaper reports. This is the suggestion of new research published in the Journal of Sport Communication, which found that while writers tend to use Twitter similarly to how they do traditional media channels, there are some notable differences.

Investigators from Clemson University and the University of Louisville discovered journalists may post commentaries on the microblogging site that reflect a personal involvement lacking pretenses regarding objectivity or impartiality.

Mario Hambrick, Assistant Professor in the Health and Sport Sciences Department at the University of Louisville, noted: "The behaviour of the 151 sports journalists analysed appear to have blurred personal and professional boundaries as they mocked fans and promoted their competitors."

In addition, it was shown that writers may take part in highly-charged interactions with fans via Twitter.

Jimmy Sanderson, Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies Department at Clemson University, noted social media appears to increase a journalist's willingness to step away from their professional spheres.

Alan Redman, a Chartered Psychologist and Chair of the Society's Division of Occupational Psychology, adds:

"The loosening effects of social media sites like Twitter on people's inhibitions are well known. It comes as little surprise that sports journalists may let their professional impartiality slip while on Twitter, as suggested by this research.

"For many years, psychologists have explored the effects of processes like 'deindividuation' on behaviour in conditions where perceptions of anonymity and distance vary from face-to-face contact. And not even psychologists are immune to the same effects while tweeting."