Should Student Media Be Cheerleaders for Their School Sports Teams? (Hint: No)

This season, the University of Kansas football team stinks.  According to the team’s head coach Charlie Weis, bloggers like me and other members of the “outside media” are allowed to express that (accurate) opinion with impunity.  But the school’s student newspaper, The University Daily Kansan, is not.

As I previously posted, Weis recently ranted on Twitter about what he felt was unfairly harsh coverage in the Kansan about the football team’s many woes so far this season.  In a tweet posted to his personal account @CoachWeisKansas prior to a home game last month, he shared, “Team slammed by our own school newspaper.  Amazing!  No problem with opponents paper or local media.  You deserve what you get!  But, not home!”

The reaction, and the subsequent furor and media attention surrounding it, sparked an interesting debate between the Center for Innovation in College Media’s Bryan Murley and I.  In our podcast chat, we discuss the Kansan brouhaha and how student journalists should approach coverage of their own school’s sports teams.

As I mention at one point during the podcast, “The hometown pride aspect is simply that they’re covering the team.  Maybe you have the papers that have, say, the school colors in their masthead or have a name or a general coverage scope that might align with something that has long been a part of the school.  There are certain elements in which, yes, we’re all one community.  But to expect simply happy go-lucky stories about a team that is struggling in the national spotlight and that takes up a huge chunk of the school’s budget is just being completely oblivious to what journalism is.”

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Kansas Football Coach Tweets Angrily About Daily Kansan Coverage of Team

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