Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Should This Be An ESPN NASCAR Story?
There certainly is a very big difference between what ESPN's NASCAR reporters post on ESPN.com as "stories" and what other NASCAR writers choose to publish as news.
This is David Newton's latest offering, which you will be hearing more about on NASCAR Now and NASCAR Countdown this week. The key words in the article are "sources" and "speculation."
When ESPN first stepped into NASCAR back in 2007, the new NASCAR writers and reporters were a combination of television veterans and print journalists appearing on TV for the first time. It was a good mix that kept NASCAR Now somewhat viable despite the poor hosts and awful features.
This season, The Daly Planet has already written several stories about the "crew" of David Newton and Terry Blount. It seems that when gossip, innuendo or speculation are going to be the central theme of a story, these two are enlisted to present it.
This column from February talked about another big story put on-the-air by NASCAR Now despite the fact it contained no shred of truth and was ultimately denied by top officials from the International Speedway Corp. as ridiculous.
Regardless of the reporter involved, ESPN presents the various media companies owned by the corporation as being upright and proper. The suits and ties on NASCAR Now seven days a week might give fans a hint of just how proper.
This season, ESPN's NASCAR reporters flow seamlessly through the infrastructure of ESPN like never before. NASCAR Now, ESPNEWS, SportsCenter and First Take are ESPN TV outlets that may feature the NASCAR reporters at any time.
Over in Internet land, both ESPN.com and Jayski.com have text, audio and video links posted to direct NASCAR fans to the most up-to-date "content." Therein lies the problem. The "content machine" needs to eat a big meal every single day.
Have you noticed how these murky ESPN stories often appear on a Tuesday or Wednesday? Are you puzzled by how this information has magically appeared on a slow news day for both NASCAR Now and ESPN.com?
Suddenly, in the middle of the week, a controversial story with no sources and loaded with nothing more than innuendo is fed to TV, audio and Internet outlets for distribution. What an amazing coincidence.
Newton's story has already gone viral all over the place. Blogs, other websites, forums and chat rooms are all talking about the fact that "ESPN said" Tony is shopping for sponsors and leaving Gibbs. My only question is, how fair is this to the people involved?
If there is no comment from Gibbs, none from the Haas-CNC team, none from the sponsors and only sly suggestions from the media-savvy Stewart...is this a national news story for ESPN.com, NASCAR Now and the Internet world?
What is your opinion on whether ESPN is reporting the news or creating it where NASCAR is concerned this season? Last year, the clashes between Stewart and ESPN reporter David Amber were memorable. This year, Amber is back to stick-and-ball land, but what really has changed?
Creating "content" to feed the machine on a slow Wednesday for NASCAR news is not what ESPN and its award-winning news division are normally about. This "news story" is now all over the Internet as fact.
As a NASCAR fan who took the time to check the Internet or perhaps NASCAR Now for news, were you really served by ESPN and David Newton reporting speculation and using unnamed sources?
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