Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Conflicting Loyalties: An Examination of the Role Community Membership and Sports Fandom Have on Sports Journalists’ Interactions with Whistleblowers

Stories exposing athletic scandals often began with a sports journalist being contacted by a “whistleblower,” a source whose position or access to information makes him or her privy to scandal or wrongdoing. When a whistleblower draws attention to wrongdoing in a beloved community institution by contacting a sports journalist, however, the sports journalist can experience role conflict: On one hand, a journalist may be committed to transparency and shining light into darkened corners. On the other, the journalist is a community member and [most likely] a sports enthusiast. This dissertation argues that sports journalists have interactions with whistleblowers, but sports journalists’ additional roles as community members and sports fans can influence whether or not whistleblowers confide in sports journalists. This study examined sports journalists’ perception of their varied roles as journalist, community member, and sports fan, and if a strong presence of any of these roles predicted interactions with whistleblowers. This study found a significant difference in years employed by current newspapers between sports journalists who have had interactions with whistleblowers and those who have not. There was not, however, statistical evidence to suggest additional roles as community members and sports fans hamper interactions with whistleblowers.