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Access Agenda Building and Information Subsidies: Media Relations in Professional Sport

While much research has examined the composition of sport media and those charged with constructing it, namely sport journalists and editors, far less has explored an essential set of actors in the construction of news: sources. This study aimed to explore the construction of the sport media agenda from arguably the most important sport news sources: sport media relations managers. In particular, this paper asked: how do media staff in sports organizations influence the production of news? To answer this question, this paper is based on a qualitative, observational study of a professional Australian Rules football club in Australia, involving interviews, observations and document analysis. Research within a professional Australian Rules football club found that the club delivered high-quality information subsidies that met sports journalists’ newswork requirements. However, media access was almost solely limited to these information subsidies, which are highly subjective and negotiated, which in turn allowed the professional football club to significantly control the subsequent media agenda.