Monday, December 1, 2008

Charlotte Observer Declines Sending David Poole To NASCAR Banquet


Several weeks ago, TDP ran a column about the upcoming Sprint Cup Series banquet in New York City. Click here to read it. The title was "NASCAR Schedules A Return To Outer Space."

The thrust of the column was that between the struggles of the sport this season and the dire economic issues facing this country, trying to once again walk the drivers and teams through the scripted banquet festivities was going to be counterproductive. Even the "mini-parade" through Times Square was cancelled this season.

Monday, veteran Charlotte Observer writer David Poole revealed on his blog that his newspaper had decided not to send him to NYC for the Sprint Cup Series banquet and surrounding functions. Perhaps, you might want to take a moment to read that last sentence again slowly while you look at Poole's picture in the center above.

The Observer's Thatsracin.com is one of the oldest and busiest NASCAR websites on the Internet. Poole may be a curmudgeon, but he is one of the most experienced and well-known NASCAR writers of the modern era.

While Poole tried to downplay his lack of participation, the message was loud and clear from the Observer. The trip was simply not going to be worth the expense.

Charlotte is the home of NASCAR. Despite the protests that may ring from Daytona, NASCAR is moving next summer into their new executive high-rise building in downtown Charlotte where administrative, operational and media efforts will be consolidated.

As many of you already know, that building is adjacent to the NASCAR Hall of Fame whose construction is underway with a hefty price tag. This complex is one of the "anchors" of the new Charlotte downtown revitalization.

To have perhaps the most widely-known newspaper associated with the sport decline to send its senior NASCAR writer to the post-season banquet is a wake-up call that is going to be talked about for some time to come.

Let's work the numbers. A non-stop Wednesday flight to NYC with a Saturday return is $358 on US Air. Three nights at the Sheraton in Manhattan is $1262 and we will round-it-out to $1300 with some tips included. Let's give $150 for three days per diem, $100 for NYC cab fares and another $50 for airport parking in Charlotte. The grand total is $1958.

So, after ten months of racing across the country, thousands of media stories building-up to the championship and Jimmie Johnson about to be crowned the three-time champ, the Charlotte Observer will not spend about $2000 for Poole to cover the story.

In his blog, Poole calls the banquet "dopey" and wonders why fans are not included. Like TDP did a while back, he mentions Las Vegas and Charlotte as possible locations that might make more sense for this function in the future.

One of the biggest reasons that the banquet was located in New York City all these years is because of the media exposure. Now, with texting and Twitter and the Internet changing the media rules the only question is when will NASCAR also change?

Perhaps, having one of the top Charlotte-based writers in the sport home on his couch in Stanfield, NC trying to find ESPN Classic on the cable dial might get NASCAR's attention.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. You comment will appear shortly after it is submitted. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by in the off-season.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Daly:
You are correct and it is a sad commentary that newspapers, as we have known them, are dying.
It was shocking earlier this year when the Orlando Sentinel released Ed Hinton, argueably one of the very best auto racing writers, and gave his responsibilities to a stringer with little experience.
For the Observer not to send Poole to the awards functions in New York is little short of idioticy, especially with the restricted nature of the receptions, media events and the main dinner!
Yes, the Sprint Cup awards events need a move from Manhattan and Charlotte makes sense in the short term (what with the economy nowadays) rather than Las Vegas. Transporting all the people from Carolina to Vegas might be good when things pick back up, but in a recession one must crawl before walking.
Just an opinion...

Tom in Dayton(the blogger signon is not functioning today due to whatever, at least from this end...)

Photojosh said...

I wouldn't spend $200 (to say nothing of $2000) to send a reporter to the banquet.

What a useless event. I'd rather see the drivers all take part in some sort of "prelude to the dream" type goof-ballism and present the season trophies in the mud on the frontstretch.

I can watch CSPAN if I want to see boring banquets and people in tuxes. I'd rather watch a dog show on ESPN than the NASCAR banquet. And I hate dog shows.

Did I mention I don't like the banquet?

Sophia said...

While it's too bad David is not going, having the boring banquet in SUCH an over priced city, that really cares little ABOUT NASCAR is the bigger issue to me.

Also the economy is VASTLY, horribly affecting this house, so you know, $2000 to send somebody to a banquet that NEEDS to be held in Charlotte anyway, is a lot of money in this economy.

I know many, and I mean MANY being cut back and losing jobs as I type this ...and the banquet is just lame, no offense.

They should've downsized and de-hollywoodized it years ago.

NYC is NOT know for cheap hotels.

Anonymous said...

Sad to see that David Poole is not going to the banquet, but it's just a sign of the times for newspapers. Word around here is that the Charlotte Observer Sports department is down to a few folks, the few longtime writers whose names we in Charlotte all recognize. Everyone else is pretty much gone.

With that in mind, I'm sure as far as the Observer publishers are concerned, the NASCAR champion has already been crowned at Homestead, so no need to spend any money - at all - to send someone to the made-up marketing plan "Champion's Week."

I saw an article that the same thing happened at the recent World Series - a lot fewer newspaper's reporters covered it, especially if they were not based on the East Coast. It simply was no longer in the budget.

I agree that Poole not attending is a big sign. NASCAR is likely going to have to move the banquet - or scrap it all together- now that only the major folks -ESPN, AP, etc - can attend. Charlotte will probably end up being where it's held.

And what is there to attend, really? I looked at nascar.com's list of Champion's Week activities and it doesn't look like much, especially in the way of TV appearances. (Actually, no TV appearances are listed yet, just two radio appearances, which I find interesting. Letterman didn't call for Jimmie?)

And did NASCAR change their mind about having only the top 10 in town? The official release mentions Jimmie and "the other 11 drivers" will attend Myers Brothers luncheon.

I will be intrigued to see if Marty Smith or another ESPN person does any reports this week for SportsCenter, since there is no NASCAR Now or SPEED special coverage of Champion's Week.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- David P. did not travel to some of the Cup races this past season & Mulhern did not travel to several races this past season that he had always attended in the past. The increased cost of travel and decreased advertising is only accelerating the decline of newspapers.

Would it be considered journalistic heresy for NASCAR to pick up all, or say half, of the cost for 10 or 12 of the best known members of the NASCAR news press to attend the banquet?

Anonymous said...

$3,000 to get coverage of a party? Kudos to the Observer for knowing where and when to cut back.

Sorry if I am not sympathetic, but this is a party. If cutbacks have to happen (and in case you didn't notice the stock market crashing again today, they do), then I would rather that they cut back on their print coverage of the NASCAR party over just about any other aspect of the sport.

Will readers really be harmed if Poole can't go to New York? I don't think so. It sounds to me like it is a big bummer that Poole can't get a trip to NYC for this event. But hey, it's time for a reality check: The economy is hurting, and it just doesn't make any sense to spend $1 to send Poole to write about this event, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Would it be considered journalistic heresy for NASCAR to pick up all, or say half, of the cost for 10 or 12 of the best known members of the NASCAR news press to attend the banquet?

In a word: YES.

Newracefan said...

Anon 642 I went the other way couldn't Poole pony up the 2 grand and expense it on his taxes. Perhaps his paper has read his comments on how lame he thinks the banquet is and refused. It really is a shame that the print media won't have a bigger presence. It's real sign of the times for the form of media. I'm more worried about no TV presence, is Jimmie going to be on TV anywhere?

Anonymous said...

Yes, reporters not paying their own way is definitely a flagrant ethics no-no. But it's funny you mention it: In 2006, NASCAR created its own "NASCAR News Service" because the top NASCAR execs felt the news media was ignoring NASCAR. So NASCAR created a service that would provide written news stories every week, for free, which newspapers could pick up and use for NASCAR coverage.

But lo and behold, they actually picked some actual reporters to work for the service, not people beholden to NASCAR. So when Jeremy Mayfield filed a lawsuit against Ray Evernham, a NASCAR News Service reporter did what a reporter should and went to the courthouse and picked up a copy of the lawsuit, which mentioned the name...Erin Crocker.

And wrote the story, which everyone else picked up, mentioning that the "NASCAR News Service" obtained the lawsuit.

And as far as I can tell, that was the beginning of the end of the "NASCAR News Service." Because if they can't control it and give it a positive spin, I get the feeling NASCAR won't fund it.

On-topic, I'm not worried about missing the banquet at all. Yahoo.com will post the pictures the next morning, I figure. If by chance something funny actually happens, someone will put it on YouTube. So why watch?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Jimmie Johnson's TV appearances are listed on the right side of the main page. If and when any additional appearances are added, we will update it as soon as possible.

JD

Nan S said...

I don't see the purpose of sending a print reporter to cover a scripted, rehearsed banquet. I watched it twice and then swore never again. Its all PR speak, thanking sponsors, team and wife/girlfriend. Each speech is the same and is devoid of personality and individuality.

Cover the racing or the off season layoffs and personnel switching. That's actual news.

@Anon 7:35, that's an intersting story about the NASCAR News Service. I didn't know the history. In this age of the internet its harder and harder for an organization to control its image and stop any message they don't want fans to see. Nascar should be getting that message by now.

Anonymous said...

David Poole himself called it - one year ago today!- in his blog from NYC:

Dec 1, 2007
--A couple of NASCAR's public relations representatives spent much of their week in New York City chewing out people in the media over stories they've written or done recently, complaining about the media being too negative about the sport. What NASCAR ought to be worried about is how fewer and fewer media outlets are not only no longer sending people to New York to cover the banquet, they're cutting out their NASCAR beats all together and letting wire services provide what lesser coverage they're allocating to the sport.

Anonymous said...

Nan S said...
"Cover the racing or the off season layoffs and personnel switching. That's actual news."


I'm waiting for someone - anyone -to mention that George Gillett, principal or maybe only owner of GEM, is trying to refinance 75 million dollars in personal debt that he is supposed to repay by January 25 (allegedly borrowed at 19 percent interest,too). It's on Google but not from a NASCAR source, it's from the media writing on the English soccer team he co-owns. (Gillett's portion of the soccer team is the collateral; I'm sure Kasey Kahne is happy he's not the collateral, but it would be naive to think GEM wouldn't be affected).

Come on, NASCAR media. What if he can't pay that back? Are we going to have Bobby Ginn all over again? That's more important than the speeches and entertainment at the awards, and all the receptions before the awards.

Dot said...

If the banquet was in Las Vegas, David could stay at my house. Everyone involved could save on room rates here, they're cheap during December. I'm just hoping that future banquets are not in NY.

I think the banquet has outlived its usefulness. I liked the idea Photojosh has, make it a fun event.

Newracefan said...

Thanks for the TV stuff JD the DVR is all set.

Anonymous said...

All the major newspapers are laying off people like crazy. Circulation is lower than ever. Newspapers are just not making any money. As far as David Poole, he pretty much says the same thing every time. He hates it, it's boring, it's a waste of time, it should be moved.

This banquet is not for the public. I saw a few drivers say they were looking forward to going to NY. I remember last year a bunch of wives saying how much fun they had shopping.

I guess for the banquet location to change would require input from the big 4 owners and their sponsors. I've not heard them complain.

Anonymous said...

This is much ado about NOTHING. Poole himself wrote, "Our newspaper looked at the expense and decided it was something we could do without, and in these tough times I have to say
I think that was the right call."

glenc1 said...

Anon 6:12 has it right. Just a sign of the times, and NASCAR, and everyone else, will have to tighten the belts. I don't think people should expect David to pay from his *very large* pockets. This is a job, not a pleasure trip...these folks have their own bills to pay (How much do ya'll think the print press is making, anyways,?)

Richard in N.C. said...

The reduction in newspaper coverage is not limited to NASCAR, and I don't believe is the fault of the sports involved, but the change in demographics and, recently, the downturn in the economy. For instance, Joe Menzer of NASCAR.com used to be the beat writer for the W-S Journal covering the Charlotte Panthers. The Journal no longer has a beat writer for the Panthers - or the now Bobcats. Instead, the former beat writer for the old Charlotte Hornets spends about 2/3 of his time on the Panthers and Bobcats and the rest of his time on other sports. Newspapers are withering. Where once newspapers were the primary source of news for NASCAR, now there is the internet and much more on TV. Newspaper reporting of NASCAR has gotten distinctly more negative as other news sources have grown up - not to mention a few writers who have a distinct anti-NASCAR bias.

Anonymous said...

This decision is symptomatic of the poor financial health of newspapers overall.

Still, NASCAR has to be frustrated that it is incapable of producing an awards event big enough (or with enough impact) to merit coverage.

red said...

can i just say this line made me laugh right out loud, simply b/c so many fans have had this experience:

"Perhaps, having one of the top Charlotte-based writers in the sport home on his couch in Stanfield, NC trying to find ESPN Classic on the cable dial. . . "

welcome to our world, mr poole.

if mr poole really wanted to go to the banquet, i think we could all come up ways to cut into that $2000 bill, things that the fan would have to do to attend. how about driving from charlotte, instead of flying? and staying at a hotel outside the city and taking the train or subway in each day? maybe even take along another reporter and split the costs of travel and -- god forbid! -- hotel room! guess driving an rv into nyc and parking there as if it were a track infield is flat out, huh? yes, i'm just kidding to some extent but it could be done if it was important enough.

bottom line: the observer can't/won't pay and mr poole has decided the banquet isn't worth it. that's the reality for me: if poole felt it was important to be there, i'm pretty sure he would find a way to make it happen. the fact that he hasn't tells me that poole, like me, feels the banquet (as it stands now) is a waste of time and spending the money to travel to the most expensive city in the country to cover it is indefensible.

move it to charlotte for the next few years until the economy stabilizes and those expenses disappear.

Deborah said...

As others have noted this is a tough time for the newspaper business. I think not sending Poole to New York is a good move - I'd rather they spend that money sending him to an extra race next season or in some other way. How much news is there really going to be from the banquet anyway? Sure, it's fun to see the drivers all dressed up but other than serving as a way for those in the sport to celebrate the end of the season and salute that year's champion, from a fan's point of view I think it's a useless event that's about as interesting as watching paint dry. That would be true whether they moved the banquet to Charlotte, Las Vegas or anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

The Observer has been in a lot of trouble and it has nothing to do with NASCAR. In September they offered the entire newsroom a volunteer buyout. They had plans to lay off 75 employees before the end of the year.

Since 2006, the value of McClatchy is down 90% in the stock market since they bought the Observer and other papers. Who knows, Mr Poole may only go to 2-4 races next year, if he still has a job.

Shayne said...

The NASCAR banquet is a snoozefest. Don your monkey suit tux and read your prepared lines off of the index cards. How exciting.

I don't think it's about whether or not the Charlotte Observer has the money to send Mr. Poole. Where's the story here? Stop scratching your heads. There is NO story.

NASCAR blows it, yet again. Do something for the fans. Make this an event fans can participate in. Hello NASCAR, money making opportunity.

Instead, NASCAR continues to take their show on the road to an area that has little interest in the sport.

Rosemary said...

It's official: we are in a recession. We saw it coming. Reality is hitting everyone. David Poole not covering the NASCAR Banquet for the Charlotte Observer certainly is a reality check. I am not happy about it, because my favorite driver just made history and deserves a big celebration. But hard times are fast approaching, and for some, it's already here.

How sad that the print newspaper business is going downhill, but many of us would not have had the opportunity to read David Poole's work if it weren't for the online version of the Charlotte Observer.

My reaction to this is with mixed emotions, but I guess that is what a reality check is, and I hope NASCAR will see it for what it is before it's too late.

We are acting like a bunch of disgruntled fans, but this week is not about us. It's about the accomplishments of those that are being honored in NYC this week. Let them enjoy the festivities. They have earned it. I do hope that the media records some of the highlights of the festivities to share with the fans.

GinaV24 said...

Well, as a lot of you have already said, its a known fact that newspapers are having trouble financially -- as are most companies and just plain folks, so I can see why the Observer would make that decision. I have to agree with David, too, that the banquet is boring. I won't be able to watch the "live" broadcast since it will be on classic, but MAYBE I'll watch the highlights on ESPN2 or maybe not. Quite honestly, I've been so unimpressed with the presentation of the banquet (other than having fun watching Brian France play with his tie, look uncomfortable and practically run off the stage after his presentation to Johnson last year). I'm with the people who say it should be in Charlotte and hey, do it like the championship teams where they have a parade and let the fans celebrate and have fun with it. This whole stiff and boring sponsor thank you, really bad entertainment (sorry, the hollywood folks don't make it for me) and unless Allen Bestwick is doing the announcing, it will be an utter waste of time. I think the Observer made a wise choice not to spend the money. NASCAR continues to suck the fun out of all things.

Photojosh said...

You know, Detroit would make more sense as a location for the banquet than NY. What a stupid idea and a waste of money. The more I think about the banquet, the more it annoys me.

PJ said...

What stories would there be to cover at a banquet? I'm sure Mr. Poole was invited to whatever banquet the Observer holds.

diane said...

Anon wrote:"This banquet is not for the public. I saw a few drivers say they were looking forward to going to NY. I remember last year a bunch of wives saying how much fun they had shopping"

Most of the top ten drivers are millionaires many many times over. They have private jets and can well afford to take a vacation to NY and let the wife shop whenever they want. There is no need for a banquet there.

Newspapers are struggling to survive. My local paper shrunk the physical size of the paper to cut expenses.

Ken said...

When the last checkered flag falls, the season is over. The drivers, crew chiefs, owners, etc look out of place wearing wedding clothes. Everyone would be happier to have an informal party at Hooters to pass out the post season awards. I would bet it would have more viewers than the farce in New York.

The only thing we need to hear in the "off season" is news that impacts the sport (driver change, ownership changes, sponsor changes, etc).

The only reason to watch an awards program or banquet is to find out who is the winner. with NA$CAR, all of that is already known. It's no more fun than reading a mystery novel after you know who did it.

Anonymous said...

As has been said, the banquet is not for the public. It's for the drivers, owners and the sponsors.

I personally have been thrilled that the banquet was in NY and no fans allowed. My driver is Jeff Gordon. At race introductions and if he won the race, he was always mistreated by the so-called true fans of NASCAR. It was either loud boos or the thowing of debris. I shudder to imagine Jeff riding in a parade in Charlotte. He would have needed more security than the President. No champion deserves that.

In NY, he did not have to deal with that. Jeff always is funny and says something witty at these banquets. My favorite was when he won and toasted Dale Sr. with a glass of milk.

I think some fans are like papparazzies (sp?), they have to have every moment of every day of the drivers. This is THEIR night. They have had a long season, full of ups and downs. Let them enjoy their night in NY.

Anonymous said...

Given the economic downturn and the overall job loss among all the teams and in the spirit of cost cutting why wouldn't they downscale the activities. Also moving it to the Charlotte area would cut costs for everyone and perhaps in the end make it more inclusive to people on the teams. There seems to be a giant gap between what is happening and Nascar's reality.

Anonymous said...

I don't blame the newspapers for not sending their reporters to NYC for the Cup banquet. I don't think NASCAR should have contined with this banquet. The cost of sending
10 drivers, wives and other members of the various teams is very expensive to everyone envolved. The drivers could have received their trophies in a much less formal, less expensive atmosphere; like a hotel in the Charlotte area. THey could have stayed at home and come to a hotel for dinner and the awards presentation, spending much less money; also do away with all this entertainment. TV could still cover the awards part, spending less money, too

David said...

I echo the sentiments others have posted about the banquet being a joke and its really no big thing to not send Poole.

NYC doesn't give 2 bits about the sport no matter how hard they "try" to. Charlotte is the heart of the sport and when the HOF is built, the banquet needs to be there, period.

Also, whats with the banquet being on Classic? I guess thats a good thing so I won't catch the joke of an event.

Pointless media PR speak opportunities have burnt me out this season, lets just get to Daytona and start seein some cars on the track!

Broomfield, Colorado said...

I hate to be redundant, but the banquet has to go. It's only for the sponsors anyway. When Big Bill France took NASCAR up there, he did it to get the extra exposure that Madison Avenue could give. Unfortunately, that idea died with him, when he turned over the keys to his less-than-intelligent son. Several years ago, it stopped being about exposure, and turned into a marathon of sponsor thank- you's. I 'll agree that it never was entertaining, but the sponsors have driven this banquet right from Purgatory straight into Hell.
If there is any cause for some "official" celebration, have the Championship driver do what was alluded to before: Have a parade in Downtown Charlotte, and let the fans attend ala Super Bowl Champions, Stanley Cup Champs, etc.
If not, then The Victory Lane Celebration at the end of the last race should suffice. P.S. The only way that NASCAR ever leaves New York, is the day that Brian isn't controlling the sanctioning body.

Anonymous said...

Nah, I dare say NASCAR is glad he won't be there. He might stir the pot over something.
They want the banquet week to be all positive and "la di dah".
They don't want to confront the economy, car counts etc this week.

Richard in N.C. said...

In today's economic environment the banquet has probably never been more important. Any excuse to smooze top executives of current and potential sponsors.

Anonymous said...

Hello...with the things David has been saying about Junior these past couple weeks on "thats racin.com" I am fine with David not being at the Media Luncheon Thursday. :)
Marybeth

Tracy said...

ALL print newspapers are in trouble. Anyone notice that the Christian Science Monitor, a Pulitzer Prize winning paper, will no longer be printed on paper and will be totally electronic come April? The Richmond Times Dispatch had two reporters covering Nascar and local racing. It's now down to one, and Nascar isn't given the space it once was in its sports section. I remember the days when I couldn't wait to read Nate Ryan's articles in the RTD.

Poole's absence from the banquet coverage won't affect his paper's circulation. As someone else said, if anything interesting happens, it'll be on YouTube in seconds, or in this blog, LOL!

Anonymous said...

The Charlotte Disturber is showing the same ambivalence as ESPN did
when they relegated the program
to Classic. If it had been UNC
sports it would have gotten extra
coverage and the front page.

Adam T. Martin said...

I agree on getting rid of the banquet.

It used to mean a lot in the past but over the recent years, it has gone downhill and this story just proves it.

Anonymous said...

Its funny to see the article on ESPN about how the banquet is so boring and what they need to do to jaz it up. I guess they have been reading TDP.

Richard in N.C. said...

It just occurred to me that David's blog says his paper is not sending HIM to NYC for the banquet- it does not say one way or the other whether the paper is sending its other racing or another reporter to NYC for the banquet and related events.

In any event, no big deal since it appears that Ryan McGee of ESPN will be there - and, except for Tom Higgins, Ryan is the closest thing to Tom Higgins I know of.

Anonymous said...

I think that those sport's fans who buy the paper are more interested in the Panthers who are tied for first place in the NFC-South, than a banquet.

The demographics of the paper's customers are predominately college educated and make more than $75,000 per year. That does not sound like the profile of a NASCAR fan. I mean the medium household income in Charlotte is only $48,670. So if NASCAR fans are not buying the paper, why not reduce the cost of covering the sport?

Richard in N.C. said...

Anon, 2:55PM- I would be willing to bet that if you asked the Sports Editor at the Charlotte Ob. he/she would tell you that he spends more covering NASCAR than the Panthers - and possibly even more than what is spent covering ACC basketball. I've had this conversation with the Sorts Ed at another NC newspaper.

NASCAR, and related businesses, is really big business in Charlotte, and the demographics you cite I feel certain would encompass at least 1/3 to 1/2 of the people working in the NASCAR-related industry in the Charlotte area.