Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NASCAR Images Suddenly Struggles For Credibility


One of the biggest changes in the NASCAR TV landscape this season is the lack of high-profile programming from NASCAR Images.

This Charlotte, NC based production company is perhaps best-known right now for Inside NEXTEL Cup, a Monday night program on SPEED. This TV series is the lone NASCAR survivor of the network's transition from Speedvision to the current SPEED Channel.

Left alone as the only NASCAR TV series on Monday nights this season, rumors were swirling that SPEED may not bring the program back in 2008.

NASCAR Images watched the ABC News production team create NASCAR in Primetime this season. This limited summer replacement series had low ratings but a high-profile on the ABC broadcast network in primetime.

The official TV production arm of NASCAR had produced outstanding "reality" style shows that used to fill SPEED's Monday night primetime. Chronicling the Busch Series teams, the Cup Series races, and the people behind-the-scenes in racing, fans loved the sensitivity to the sport and the TV craftsmanship of NASCAR Images.

Now, we find ourselves in the final week of the season. We also find a very different NASCAR Images. Instead of leading the way in NASCAR television, we find a company struggling for credibility in the very sport they are charged to document and promote.

Survival of the Fastest is a NASCAR Images TV series that airs Thursdays on SPEED. Originally, it was one of my favorites. Now, I know when each episode airs by the flood of email after the show. It was The Daly Planet readers that made me aware of potential problems. I still cannot believe NASCAR Images took this chance.

Chasing Glory is a NASCAR Images TV series that airs Wednesdays on ESPN2. The premise was to profile the participants in the 2007 NEXTEL Cup Chase for the Championship. The reality has been nothing short of a disaster for NASCAR Images and their racing credibility.

After my first column on this topic, Daly Planet readers began to give me a course in the art of video deception. In TV, using older footage for reference or to fill-in a gap in a story is called "re-purposing."

This is often done when a program or news story needs "B-roll." That is the footage shown when an announcer is talking about something, like a track or a race team. We might see older footage of Daytona or the classic black "3" car of Dale Earnhardt Sr.

There is, however, a big difference between "re-purposing" and "re-labeling." One allows older footage to be used to make a point in a story, the other tries to slip something by the NASCAR fans that is simply not true.

In both the current series NASCAR Images has used footage that was months, and in several cases, years old. Unfortunately, they "re-labeled" it and used the announcer audio and new on-screen graphics to try and present it to NASCAR fans as present day content. It has cost NASCAR Images dearly.

Video of NASCAR team meetings, fishing trips, backyard swimming pool fun, vacations at the beach and lots of other activities involving NASCAR personalities was presented to the nation as current day. Unfortunately, none of it was.

Daly Planet readers recognized footage from as far back as two years. The big question is why? With all the resources at the fingertips of NASCAR Images, why lie? With the company's credibility on the line, why have announcers deceive? What TV production company would purposefully put graphics on the footage that "re-labeled" something years old as last week or last month?

We emailed our contacts at NASCAR Images to ask about these issues. There was absolutely no response. As a former employee of that company prior to it being re-named, I was personally very disappointed. The best thing NASCAR Images could do is deal with this problem right now.

The mission of NASCAR Images is to document this sport just like NFL Films, PGA Tour Productions, and NBA Entertainment take care of their chosen pastime. At the core of this effort is the bond of trust between those organizations and the fans they serve. I belong to one of those groups. We call ourselves NASCAR fans.

This Wednesday at 5:30PM Eastern Time on ESPN2, the final regular season episode of Chasing Glory takes to the air. Over on SPEED, Survival of the Fastest airs at 8:30PM on Thursday. These two programs should be celebrating the end of a successful run on national TV. Instead, NASCAR fans are waiting to see if once again with NASCAR Images, the past is going to catch up with the present in all the wrong ways.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email editor@thedalyplanet.tv if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop-by and leave your opinion.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

JD, I disagree. Sure they used video from a while back, but they did not put a date on each shot like, "this fishing video was from last week" or anything like that. I think it would be hard to get a driver back out to the lake and get that fishing video again just so it would be recent. Why re-shot when you have the shot already. I must say though, that if a shot WAS labeled as last week and it was not, that is a problem. But I don't think that has been a big problem with the NASCAR Images programing.

Anonymous said...

When the show is about the events that took place last week and we're shown video of drivers fishing or with a girlfriend who's long-since gone, that deceptive.

Those are two examples. There are more. The implication of those shots within a show composed of current video is that those shots are current as well.

The point is, don't fake it. If Truex didn't go fishing this week, don't try to pretend he did. Shoot video of what he actually did with his free time.

That's how these shows used to be done.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see that someone else noticed "old stuff" - but I guess the term, reduce, reuse, recycle has new meaning. I agree with all the resources and access, there shouldn't be a need.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct about the lack of ETHICS (and that is what it is... a journalistic ethics problem) shown by NASCAR Images.

What is more troubling is, well, quite frankly, the lack of outrage by fans and the lack of response by NASCAR Images and it's parent organization. It is yet another example of how far journalism has sunk and how Americans do not hold anyone accountable. A clear "Failure to Grasp the Big Picture"

Reality TV and News and Entertainment have all merged with shows like these, and where are the standards? One could argue that it's not news, so we don't have to follow journalistic news standards. Unfortunately for America once news became a profit center for these corporations, words like ethics, standards, accountability, responsibility and integrity have faded from broadcast offices across the country.

So, what do we do to fight this? STOP WATCHING. Turn off your TV and either watch something else or go outside and play with your family. The only voice these companies hear anymore is the sound of the dollar. Hold them accountable in the marketplace.

Thanks for an excellent column and excellent work. NASCAR has had no one holding them accountable for quite a while, and I am glad you are there pointing out this stuff to an audience. Now, if only the broadcasters (because they are NOT journalists) will listen?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for America once news became a profit center for these corporations, words like ethics, standards, accountability, responsibility and integrity have faded from broadcast offices across the country.

I think that's going a little far in this case, unless you're arguing that NASCAR Images lost its integrity sometime between last season--when they didn't do this--and the current season.

It's more like laziness or cost-cutting, I think.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said...
JD, I disagree. Sure they used video from a while back, but they did not put a date on each shot like, "this fishing video was from last week" or anything like that.

They *did* put a current timeframe labeling on many clips of old footage, especially on Survival of the Fastest. Many times. Clips would specifically say "Four days before the race" when they were a year or two old. Or in last week's Chasing Glory, they showed Jeff Gordon getting dressed and talking to his crew in his hauler with a caption of "Race Day" in Texas, but it was actually footage from an old race from Gordon's new DVD. They mixed that old footage in with new footage from race weekend at Texas, so new viewers wouldn't know they were being misled.

If you check Mr. Daly's past columns and the comments following them, you'll see a number of specific examples.

I think it would be hard to get a driver back out to the lake and get that fishing video again just so it would be recent.Why re-shot when you have the shot already.

The NASCAR Images of old wouldn't want to show a driver on a show doing the exact same thing he'd done on another of their reality shows. They would have shown new footage of the driver in a different environment. I've seen the year-old Martin Truex fishing footage used twice on separate progams just since the Chase started.

I must say though, that if a shot WAS labeled as last week and it was not, that is a problem.

Exactly.

Mr. Daly, I can't thank you enough for calling attention to this issue. If this had happened without your site being in existence, it would be something we mention among family and friends "haven't we seen this before?", but never find out that others are noticing it too.

I've been hoping to see some kind of official response or email from NASCAR Images sent to you and posted in a column, and I'm sad that they've sent nothing to explain why they changed directions in programming -for the worse - this year.

Kathy said...

NASCAR in Primetime was an excellent production. I loved watching it and found my heart racing every time I watched it. I can imagine someone becoming interested in the sport after tuning in...I was really interested in Johnny Sauter after following his progress on the show.

If they wanted to clone a show, that would be a good one to model.

I have no problem with the use of old footage as long as it not labeled as current.

Anonymous said...

If they wanted to clone a show, that would be a good one to model.

Oh, I hope not. Too much "ABC" and too little NASCAR.

From the use of music, to the 'random' fans, to the use of previous years' crashes to 'dramatize' the danger, it was insulting.

I watched the first two, then gave up.

Anonymous said...

When the show is about the events that took place last week and we're shown video of drivers fishing or with a girlfriend who's long-since gone, that deceptive.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.

Anonymous said...

daly planet editor said...
'With the company's credibility on the line, why have announcers deceive?'

Great point. I noticed this season that even if the programs didn't label the footage as new, they used the announcer's words to give the impression that what we were seeing was happening that week.

As for NASCAR in Primetime, that show was created with all new footage, following a few drivers around and filming them each for a few weeks earlier this season. Whether viewers ended up liking the series or not, they were giving you something new. When they used old footage, they used it just like JD said it was supposed to be used - historically or to demonstrate a point.

Lisa Hogan said...

I watched a couple of episodes of the two shows mentioned in the column. When I saw that the usage of old footage, labeled as new, was not a fluke but a choice, I stopped watching.

Daly Planet Editor said...

As you can see from the tone of my column, this was hard to write.

I went back and made sure of the facts, and then published.

This is the final week of the season, and was the right time to bring attention to this situation.

Hopefully, this situation will change for the future, and that is my aim.

JD

Lisa Hogan said...

I agree, JD. I think all of us who truly enjoyed all the previous programs produced by NASCAR Images were shocked and disappointed at this turn of events. For an organization, that has been known for excellence, to fall off the cliff this season has been a shame.

Anonymous said...

With my work schedule changed a couple of years ago, I don't have time anymore to watch much NASCAR programming during the season except the race and RaceDay. But in the offseason, I've always liked taping the reruns of the reality shows.

In the winter, SPEED shows the past season of the shows each weekday and I would tape them and catch up with all the episodes over the weekends. It was a great way to get my "race fix" before Daytona. Last year, the shows were Beyond the Wheel and Seven Days.

I've been keeping track of the discussion for a few weeks and know that I don't need to worry about catching the reruns of Chasing Glory or Survival of the Fastest this winter - because I've already seen most of it before. That's really a shame.

Busch said...

JD so now I understand why we saw Brian Vickers with Casey Mears & Jeff Gordon I thought it looked fishy.

Anonymous said...

JD,
I would like to see EVERYTHING go back to Fox and Speed. Everything they did was great!
ESPN and Rusty need to go away!

Newracefan said...

I enjoy the shows that Nascar Images puts together my problem now is that I don't trust them. Every time I watch Survival of the Fastest or Chasing Glory I wonder if what I am seeing now is new or old. I wouldn't mind if they used the "old" footage if it wasn't implied or labeled as being "new". The Championship Week series on Speed in a perfect example of a good way to reuse footage, I'm watching it knowing what year they are talking about and I can enjoy it for what it is. My big question is why are they reusing the old footage; is it because drivers/teams are not making themselves available (I can actually understand this especially with those teams in the championship hunt) or are they trying to do it on the cheap? Inquiring minds want to know, JD??

Anonymous said...

Same ol' same ol'. Tonight's Chasing Glory mixed in footage from the Jeff Burton and Eddie Gossage episodes of 7 Days from last year.

Interesting that they will put dates on historical race footage so people will know the date, but try to mix in the old personal footage without anyone knowing. It's clear they wanted us to think, for instance, that the Gossage "Fandango" fan event happened on the recent race weekend.

Anonymous said...

I say it has to do with cost, NASCAR is cheap, period! Look how long it took them to install electronic scoring, years! I still can't believe they still use a "orange cone" at the pit lane line, WOW!!! The drivers can't see that small cone and it gets run over every week, a garage full of engineers and they use a small orange cone? This simple thing may seem silly, but it shows how cheap and mis-managed NASCAR really is!!! Brainless Brian is a moron and the falling TV ratings and empty seats proves my point!!!

Anonymous said...

When will ESPN hire a real NASCAR person for NASCAR Now, Never? All of them suck this year!!!

Anonymous said...

This isn't about Nascar Now. It's about Images. I would say as others have that the lack of availabilty of the drivers is the main reason. So if JG goes to NY to take care of the baby that they would film it in a heart beat if he said come on up. They don't want to be followed with cameras during this time. That's evident.

Anonymous said...

ESPN does NOT PLAY WELL WITH OTHER NETWORKS in the sandbox or anywhere for that matter.

NASCAR images was owned and may still be owned by FOX and ESPN and FOX do not get along. End of story although I do not understand it.