Introduction. Based on Shoemaker's model of gatekeeping, this study addresses two questions: What social representations of sports are promoted by the prime time news program of the public television broadcaster Radio Televisão Portuguesa (RTP)? How do editors assess sports news stories during the editorial decision-making process?
Material and Methods. For this, we quantitatively examined all the sports content in the prime time ‘Telejornal’ daily news program of RTP during a trimester. Moreover, we studied the factors that influenced editorial decisions, by conducting naturalistic participant observation and semi-structured interviews.
Results. Results indicate that facts of greater public protagonism, which cause a significant emotional reaction and are relatable to the public, are more newsworthy. The main constraints influencing the editorial decisions were organized in three co-dependent areas: Social System (macro level), RTP Organization (meso level) and Telejornal Newsroom (micro level).
Conclusions. Findings contribute to a reduction in social stereotypes created by television broadcasters, and to sports actors optimizing their communication strategy.