On 16th March, Blogchatter hosted a Facebook Live panel on Sports Journalism in India featuring panelists Chandresh Narayanan (editorial consultant at The Times of India and media manager with the Delhi Daredevils) and Snehal Pradhan (former India cricketer, currently a writer and commentator) moderated by Tareque Laskar (consulting social media editor at Wisden India).

The focus was not just on the process of sports journalism and the art of putting a story together but also on the larger significance of the profession itself in the world of sport. Chandresh, who has been in the industry for over two decades and has worked for both the media as well as a media manager for cricket administration and cricket franchises began proceedings with an important critique of the ubiquitous hurried journalism we see across the news space these days – the journalists/reporters do not read and research enough. He conceded that he may be from an older generation but sports journalism goes way beyond just reporting or analyzing what happened on the field of play. Especially in a day and age where match broadcasts and replays are available at virtually everyone’s fingertips and personal screens.

Both writers also touched upon the hot button issue of whether or not those who haven’t played the sport at a professional level should be commenting or writing on it. Chandresh opined that a non player writer brings in fresh perspective to writing about the sport and comment more objectively on the proceedings. Snehal pointed out that someone like herself who has been a player and now writes and reports on the game: ‘I am a journalist first and cricketer later’ can bring in extra dimensions and nuance.

The role of a journalist is to provide deeper context and not just provide vague opinions according to Snehal who has been an India cricketer and has seen the game from both the vantage points – that of a player and that of a writer. She provided a glimpse into her research and preparation process emphasizing on how she tends to read in depth on any player or issue that she tackles. She also mentioned the importance of combining data and stories because without relevant data to back up a thesis, most pieces end up being vapid opinions which do not add any value to the reader or inform them better on complex or complicated issues.

She cited her own work on the pay gap between the contracts offered by the BCCI to male and female India cricketers and how everyone had only looked at it superficially and been outraged by the gulf in pay without being informed of how exactly the system functions or other pertinent details.

Other than data driven and analytical stories, both writers talked about human interest stories, with Chandresh mentioning that stories that have intrigue fascinate him. He added that in sports in general and Indian sport in particular there is so much intrigue because  there are many such hidden stories to be told in a sporting context because the world of Indian sport is so diverse.

Snehal had a similar take and as the moderator pointed out sports journalism should ideally fulfill the same purpose writing universally does – bring stories out that illuminate the human condition.

To see the live video, click here.