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Jlon Flippens, Nick Keppler, Molly Menapace, Cameron Smith

Professor Szczepaniec-Bialas
ENGL 297
7 March 2018

Ethnographic Research Proposal

This research project will explore a single approach towards sports journalism. To do so, the
research team will observe the experiences and perspective of sports journalist Sammi Silber. It
will observe her methods used to gather information on her subjects, analyze her writing style,
and determine other characteristics of what it means to be a sports journalist.

To do this, our group will use various data collection methods such as interviewing the informant
on her experience, visiting a field site to examine her work and evaluate her published works to
formulate a clear picture of the profession. Once we have compiled the data from the interview
and observations, we will connect chief characteristics of the profession and draw theories based
on these connections. Additionally, we will formulate theories on how Sammi Silber’s
experiences as a sports journalist may be shared or differ among other sports journalists.

Research Questions
In a broad sense, the team hopes to gather information on what it means to be a sports journalist:
exploring what kind of work and dedication it requires, discovering distinguishing elements of
the profession, and the methodology behind writing for specific clients and audiences.

Below is a list of some major questions we wish to answer through this study:
● Are there specific aspects of sports journalism that directly define the profession?
● What separates sports journalism from other kinds of technical writing?
● How does the informant gather the information to put into their journalism?
● Is there a specific way to prepare for writing sports journalism?
● How technical does a sports journalist have to be in their articles? How much of their
writing do they dedicate to explaining concepts?
● When writing for different clients, does the informant write differently for each one?

Research Subject
Sammi Silber has an immense list of contributions. Silber is a hockey journalist. She
serves as an editor with the Huffington Post and Oil on Whyte. Silber is also a beat reporter for
The Hockey Writers. She often contributes for USA TODAY college, as well as having written
multiple books. Finally, Silber is a staff writer at Nation Network covering teams like Toronto
Maples Leafs and Winnipeg Jets. Sammi Silber is an accomplished writer in the sport of hockey.
It is essential for the group to study and observe Sammi Silber because it’s our goal to
gain knowledge on how to be a technical writer in the sports industry. Other goals include
learning the specifics that separate this industry from other industries. Also, how to gather the
appropriate information to create effective pieces. The writer has enough accomplishments and
experiences for us to learn plenty of information through observation and research.

Data Collection Methods

We will collect a wide variety of documents composed by the writer that relate to the
field of sports journalism, specifically hockey. Even further, we will focus on her writing done
for or about the NHL’s Washington Capitals. This will help us get a feel for her writing, her
style, techniques and what her personality is like. We will also collect documents from other
writers in her field, (perhaps a male writer), to compare and contrast.
The interview is a crucial way for us to learn more about our research subject and ask the
questions that we would not be able to find out otherwise. We are planning to hold a semi-
structured interview meaning that we will come up with questions beforehand but we will gladly
encourage our research subject to further explore particular themes or questions.
Some information that we are hoping to gain from this interview include how our subject
got to where she is today (school, opportunities, etc.), why she wanted to go into sports
journalism, what daily life is like in the field, the biggest struggles she faces and more.
Additionally, we are planning on observing the writer at work to experience what it is
like in the field ourselves. This will give us a chance to collect artifacts, clarify and broaden
responses from the interview, take field notes and even meet other people in the field that we
could report on and learn from.
These methods of data collection will ultimately help us to answer our ultimate research
question and learn more about what it is like to be a technical writer in the sports world. We are
hoping to inquire about how a sports writer/journalist approaches professional writing, what it
takes and what steps are needed to get to the place that our research subject is at.

Data Analysis
With the data collected from the interview, on-site observation, and writing analysis, we
plan to collect personal and physical data from our writer that we can use to create a “profile” of
the ideal sports writer, specifically, a hockey writer. With this information, we will know what
makes sports writing unique. From the writing analysis, we will identify examples of ethos,
pathos, logos, and other rhetorical tools used by the writer to convey their message.
We will create this “profile” by observing and interviewing the writer to identify specific
traits and habits of a good sports writer. For example, one of our interview questions is “What
separates an “ok” sports writer from a great sports writer?” While observing, we will take note of
the methods the writer uses to collect data, and how the writer prepares to collect data.

Schedule of Work
Date Assignment Assigned to Status

3/7 Ethnographic Research Proposal Whole Group

(First Draft)

3/11-3/12 Interview/Transcription Cameron

3/14 Ethnographic Research Proposal Whole Group

(Final Draft)

TBD On-Site Observations Nick & Molly

TBD Writing Analysis Jlon

4/11 Ethnographic Report (First Draft) Whole Group


4/23 Ethnographic Report Whole Group

(Final Draft)

4/25 Annotated Research E-Portfolio Whole Group

(First Draft)

5/7 Annotated Research E-Portfolio With Whole Group