Xavier Ramon-Vegas, Jose-Luis Rojas-Torrijos

Accountable sports journalism. Building up a platform and a new specialised code in the field

Far from its traditional consideration as the 'little brother' of the profession, sports journalism plays a key role in the new information ecosystem and has a huge impact in society. Therefore, sports journalists must gain awareness of their accountability in order to counteract the widespread deficiencies that have not only challenged the normative standards of the profession but have also eroded their credibility. With the aim of helping journalists address these shortcomings, this investigation: (1) has compiled and examined the most relevant ethical codes, stylebooks and other accountability instruments in sports journalism; (2) has created the online platform Accountable Sports Journalism (http://accountablesportsjournalism.org); and (3) has produced a new specialised code aimed at covering sports responsibly.

Keywords: accountability, code, ethics, instruments, sports journalism


  1. Bertrand, Claude-Jean (2000) Media ethics and accountability systems, London, Transaction Publishers
  2. Boyle, Raymond (2006) Sports journalism: Context and issues, London, Sage
  3. Boyle, Raymond and Haynes, Richard (2014) Watching the games, Girginov, Vassil (ed.) Handbook of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Vol. 2, Abingdon, Routledge pp 84-95
  4. Brennen, Bonnie and Brown, Rick (2016) Persecuting Alex Rodriguez: Race, money and the ethics of reporting the performance-enhancing drug scandal, Journalism Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1 pp 21-38
  5. Brock, George (2013) Out of print. Newspapers, journalism and the business of news in the digital age, London, Kogan Page
  6. Bryman, Alan (2016) Social research methods, Oxford, Oxford University Press, fifth edition
  7. Cassidy, William P. (2017) Inching away from the toy department, Communication & Sport, Vol. 5, No. 5 pp 534-553
  8. CNOSF (2012) Charte d'etique et déontologie du sport Français. Available online at http://franceolympique.com/files/File/publications/Charte%20ethique%20et%20de%20deontologie%20du%20sport%20adoptee%20par%20AG%20CNOSF%202012.05.10.pd
  9. English, Peter (2016) Mapping the sports journalism field: Bourdieu and broadsheet newsrooms, Journalism, Vol. 17, No. 8 pp 1001-1017
  10. English, Peter (2017) Cheerleaders or critics? Australian and Indian sports journalists in the contemporary age, Digital Journalism, Vol. 5, No. 5 pp 532-548
  11. Hardin, Marie and Zhong, Bu (2010) Sports reporters' attitudes about ethics vary based on beat, Newspaper Research Journal, Vol. 31, No. 2 pp 6-19
  12. Holt, Ron (2000) The discourse ethics of sports print journalism, Culture, Sport, Society, Vol. 3, No 3 pp 88-103
  13. Horky, Thomas and Stelzner, Barbara (2013) Sports reporting and journalistic principles, Pedersen, Paul M. (ed.) Routledge handbook of sport communication, Abingdon, Routledge pp 118-127.
  14. Hutchins, Brett and Rowe, David (2009) From broadcast scarcity to digital plenitude: The changing dynamics of the media sport content economy, Television & New Media, Vol. 10, No. 4 pp 354-370
  15. Hutchins, Brett and Boyle, Raymond (2017) A community of practice: Sport journalism, mobile media and institutional change, Digital Journalism, Vol. 5, No. 5 pp 496-512
  16. International Paralympic Committee (2014) Guide to reporting on persons with an impairment. Available online at https://www.paralympic.org/sites/default/files/document/141027103527844_2014_10_31+Guide+to+reporting+on+persons+with+an+impairment.pdf
  17. Ketterer, Stan, McGuire, John and Murray, Ray (2014) Contrasting desired sports journalism skills in a convergent media environment, Communication and Sport, Vol. 2, No 3 pp 282-298
  18. Jennings, Andrew (2011) Investigating corruption in corporate sport: The IOC and FIFA, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 46, No. 4 pp 387-398
  19. L'Etang, Jacquie (2013) Sports public relations, London, Sage
  20. McQuail, Denis (2003) Media accountability and freedom of publication, New York, Oxford University Press
  21. Oates, Thomas P. and Pauly, John (2007) Sports journalism as moral and ethical discourse, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Vol. 22, No. 4 pp 332-347
  22. O'Neill, Deirdre and Mulready, Matt (2015) The invisible woman? Journalism Practice, Vol. 9, No. 5 pp 651-668
  23. Ramon-Vegas, Xavier and Rojas, José Luis (2017) Mapping media accountability instruments in sports journalism, El Profesional de la Información, Vol. 26, No. 2 pp 159-171
  24. Rojas-Torrijos, José Luis (2011) Periodismo deportivo de calidad: propuesta de un modelo de libro de estilo panhispánico para informadores deportivos, Madrid, Fragua
  25. Rojas-Torrijos, José Luis and Ramon-Vegas, Xavier (2017) Accountability in social networks. Ever-evolving stylebooks and feedback through Twitter, Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, No. 72 pp 915-941
  26. Rowe, David (2007) Sports journalism: Still the 'toy department' of the news media? Journalism, Vol. 8, No. 4 pp 385-405
  27. Sherwood, Merryn, Nicholson, Matthew and Marjoribanks, Timothy (2017) Controlling the message and the medium?: The impact of sports organisations' digital and social channels on media access, Digital Journalism, Vol. 5, No. 5 pp 513-531
  28. Special Olympics (2014) Special Olympics style guide. Available online at http://media.specialolympics.org/soi/files/resources/Communications/StyleGuide-2014.pdf
  29. Suggs, David Welch (2016) Tensions in the press box, Communication & Sport, Vol. 4, No. 3 pp 261-281
  30. Taylor, Daniel (2017) One year after football's child abuse scandal broke, stories are yet to be told, Observer, 11 November. Available online at https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/nov/11/andy-woodward-one-year-on
  31. Tulloch, Christopher and Ramon-Vegas, Xavier (2017) Take five: How Sports Illustrated and L'Équipe redefine the long form sports journalism genre, Digital Journalism, Vol. 5, No. 5 pp 652-672
  32. Weedon, Gavin and Wilson, Brian (2017) Textbook journalism? Objectivity, education and the professionalization of sports reporting, Journalism pp 1-26. Available online at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1464884917716503?journalCode=joua
  33. Weedon, Gavin, Wilson, Brian, Yoon, Liv and Lawson, Shawna (2016) Where's all the ´good´ sports journalism? Sports media research, the sociology of sport, and the question of quality sports reporting, International Review for the Sociology of Sport pp 1-29. Available online at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1012690216679835

Note on the contributor

Xavier Ramon-Vegas is a lecturer in the Department of Communication of Pompeu Fabra University. He holds a PhD in Communication from the UPF. He is also affiliated to the Olympic Studies Centre at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (CEO-UAB). His research focuses on media ethics and accountability and sports journalism. He has been a visiting researcher at the University of Stirling, the University of Glasgow, the University of Alabama and the IOC Olympic Studies Centre. Contact details: Xavier Ramon-Vegas, Pompeu Fabra University, Roc Boronat 138. 08018 Barcelona, Spain. Email: xavier.ramon@upf.edu
José-Luis Rojas-Torrijos is a lecturer in journalism at the University of Seville and EUSA Business University. He also participates in the MA programmes in journalism and sports communication of the Pontifical University of Salamanca, Pompeu Fabra University, European University in Madrid, San Antonio Catholic University in Murcia and Marca-CEU University. He holds a PhD in Journalism (2010) and a BA in Information Sciences (1994) from the University of Seville. His research focuses on sports journalism, ethics and stylebooks. Contact details: José-Luis Rojas-Torrijos, University of Seville, Avda. Américo Vespucio, s/n. 41092 Sevilla, Spain. Email: jlrojas@us.es