From left, Jim Pignatiello, Ben Goessling, Erik Hall and Paul Barrett talk about the balance between original reporting and aggregating content by beat reporters on Monday, July 10, at the APSE Conference in Las Vegas.

By Wyatt Touchet / UNLV Scarlet and Gray

On the opening day of sessions at APSE’s annual summer conference in Las Vegas, Jim Pignatiello of MassLive moderated a panel which consisted of The Seattle Times sports editor Paul Barrett, lead Minnesota Vikings beat reporter Ben Goessling, and digital sports editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Erik Hall. The panelists, brimming with seasoned experience, highlighted distinct factors of balance to create efficient solutions for the challenges that journalists face today when it comes to aggregated reporting and original content.

With increasing engagement and influence from social media, the aggregation of speculative information poses threats to the fundamental process of reporting sports news to its consumers.

“We want great journalism,” Barrett said. “But we need to make money.”

The conversation presented the diverse perspectives that look to combat a dilemma that the industry is now facing daily: The analytics provide the insight on how stories trend and impact the direction organizations look to pursue future leads and stories.

Hall furthered the need to understand what captivates consumers’ attention by emphasizing the entertainment value of the content produced. Hall said, “We want to entertain people and come to our sites.” The root issue in maintaining viewership is balancing the entertainment value while practicing fundamental, factual reporting. 

“There is no one format,” Goessling said. Stories may require a short form structure to quickly grab a reader’s attention, yet long forms with great analysis are “in a way is still substantive,” Goessling argued.

“When someone has a good idea we want to make that idea happen,” Barrett said.

The ambiguous nature of digital aggregation requires caution. Understanding the magnitude of the subject and its following are crucial elements that factor in how a story is written and analyzed. Hall encouraged a need to “think more broadly when you think about a person rather than just the team.” Goessling echoed and stated, “Context matters.”

Barrett urged editors to “rely on reporters’ expertise” in order to discern the need to write about speculative reports, such as trade rumors. 

For instances like trades and contracts, Goessling advised patience “for the real numbers to come out.” Recalling from experience, Goessling mentioned a motto that simplified this process: “Get the dollar figure and the headline.”