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Sideline Balancing Act: Latin American Sport Journalists Strive To Be Passionate And Objective

Reporters risk their credibility by openly rooting for the teams they cover.

Sports journalism plays an essential role in Latin America, where its focus is mainly on bringing the highest quality news about the leading sport: soccer.

Beyond that, in Mexico and elsewhere in the region, there are radio and TV stations, web pages, and newspapers dedicated to reporting other sports, such as baseball, volleyball, swimming and Taekwondo events.

Sports journalism has also had to reinvent itself in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has eliminated or reduced fans in the stands, and limited the access that writers can have to the athletes themselves.

“One can say a lot of things about sports journalism,” said Julio Mora Olivo, a TV and radio journalist in Veracruz. “However, the only thing that is true no matter is that the job entails a lot of physical work and emotional connections.”

To be a good journalist, they must be as objective as possible.

“Personally, I try to be as objective as possible and avoid criticizing athletes. I report what happens in courts or rings. That is what being a sports journalist is to me,” said Mora Olivo.

Julio Mora Olivo is a sports journalist residing in the city of Veracruz, Mexico. He brings to the public what is happening on courts, fields, rings and more. (Courtesy of Julio Mora Olivo)

If there is something that distinguishes sports journalists in Mexico, it is the passion that they convey through their words. Whether it is narrating a match’s transmission or criticizing and appraising the athletes in their articles, a sports journalist lets their passion mark the course of their words.

They also seek to show the athletes’ humanity.

“It is important to convey to our readers how the athlete thinks or feels, how they experience their ups and downs, and how they are developing through their spirits,” said Mora Olivio.

Any country that wishes to have good sports journalism must first have a passionate audience that cares and demands the best journalism possible. Therefore, there is a massive amount of competition in traditional media and webpages and social media.

Being a sport journalist is a job that requires passion while also maintaining objectivity. (Feo con Ganas/Unsplash)

Sports journalists have one fundamental yet unwritten rule: keep giving factual news and avoid becoming an avid fan to the point where it hurts their job integrity. If they do not maintain their neutrality, their career is at risk.

“When it comes to serious editorial work, people must strive for a balance on how they present the news. If anyone were to lose that, they would lose the most valuable thing for a communicator — their credibility,” said Felipe García Hernández, a sports journalist with 32 years of experience who works as a press officer at the Veracruz Institute of Sports.

Hence, “It is not advisable to reveal any preference; to avoid biased comments in favor of your favorite team,” said García Hernández.

Moreover, sports journalism has also become a place for women empowerment. Although it is still a men-dominated job field, women such as Inés Sainz, Jimena Sánchez and Melissa Martínez Artuz have made headway in recent years. After all, just as any sport requires discipline to achieve excellent performance, any journalism that covers it must also maintain the same quality level.

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez; edited by Matthew B. Hall)