Wednesday, June 3, 2009

NASCAR's Newest Reporter Could Be You


Ever felt the need to sit next to ESPN's Marty Smith in the infield media center? Maybe, share a good joke with the AP's Jenna Fryer or compare hairstyles with Scenedaily's Bob Pockrass? Now, the experience of being a NASCAR media member can be yours.

Tuesday, NASCAR announced a brand new agenda of including "citizen journalists" in the national media coverage of the sport. You know this is going to go over like a lead balloon with the free pizza and air-conditioning set.

Here are some excerpts from the press release:

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) today announced its intention to invite the top independent NASCAR-related websites to join a newly-formed “NASCAR Citizen Journalists Media Corps.” NASCAR is providing this group of new media access to cover the sport while maintaining their independence. The initial list of Citizen Journalists will be formally announced in the coming weeks.

The media landscape has changed dramatically in recent months especially for sports coverage. As the newspaper industry adjusts to a new age of information, NASCAR fans and former traditional media have taken it upon themselves to report, cover and opine on the sport. Today there are thousands of NASCAR related websites. Many of these sites cover the sport on a daily basis and offer unique and fresh perspectives to a large audience.

The Citizen Journalists will be selected as part of a review process including: professionalism, reporting and commentary, use of social networking tools.


“Many of these outlets have covered NASCAR from afar for many years, but now they have the opportunity to cover the sport up close and personal,” said Managing Director of Corporate Communications, Ramsey Poston. “The Citizen Journalists will have the very same access as the traditional media including credentials to race events, access to media centers, press boxes, press conferences, teleconferences, news releases, video, audio, photos, stats and graphics. We expect the Citizen Journalists to maintain their journalistic independence and continue to provide unique points of view,” said Poston.

While on one hand the opportunity for additional coverage of the sport is nice, what NASCAR is really saying is that most of the media pool has either been laid off, fired or had their newspapers go out of business. Full-time NASCAR reporters are a very rare breed. Many of the journalists at the races come only a handful of times a year when budgets and logistics allow.

Names like Bob Margolis, Jerry Bonkowski and Mike Mulhern used to be associated with high-profile publications and Internet sites. Now, a new breed of NASCAR reporter will be moving into the tracks with all-access credentials and a big smile. Most of us refer to the new group as bloggers.

By opening the door to bloggers, NASCAR is finally admitting that many fans get their NASCAR opinions, conversation and updates from websites that never have sent a reporter to a single race. The reason for that was simple. They were not allowed access to the media areas.

Traditional media has given way to reporters like Jeff Gluck, Pockrass, and others sending endless Twitter messages into space during the races. Every time a caution flies or Tony Stewart changes a tire the fingers fly in the infield media center. Marty Smith even admitted to the Twitter universe that he had never seen Digger before last weekend. Welcome to our world, Marty.

NASCAR's plans are a little vague when it comes to how and when all of this is going to be happening, but one thing is clear. The message is that the current crop of NASCAR reporters are unable to accomplish the kind of new media interaction that NASCAR sees happening in other professional sports.

Major NASCAR teams have their own public relations folks who coddle each Sprint Cup driver. They fill team websites with their version of news and information. Team press releases flood the TDP mailbox and their singular point of view accomplishes absolutely nothing.

NASCAR.com is supposed to be the single source for all things NASCAR, but one quick look at that site shows the new blog format and the fact that it is very light on in-depth information. The new "citizen journalists" are supposed to be featured on NASCAR.com and coordinated through that organization. Most NASCAR fans know the Turner Interactive Group runs NASCAR.com from offices in Atlanta, GA.

"We will continue to rely on the traditional media to cover the sport on a day-to-day basis, but as the media world changes so must NASCAR,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France.

That statement puts the official stamp on the fact that the infield media centers at the tracks are going to be opening the door to bloggers and young journalists of all types. TDP will keep you updated on how this crop of new media NASCAR reporters will be selected.

Who knows? Maybe someday soon you may be sitting between Nicole Manske and Claire B. Lang enjoying some free NASCAR media pizza at a Sprint Cup Series race.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. Just click on the comments button below to add your opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

39 comments:

Lesley said...

Im sorry..but If they dont delete the way you delete JD..Then maybe we have a chance at saving this sport!!(Love your site buy the way)

slander q. libel said...

Only those who wish to report nice things about NASCAR need apply...

bevo said...

Color me skeptical about NASCAR's motives here. Looks more like an effort to assimilate independent voices, schmooze them and get them addicted to "access" then control the message. Any blogger that does this is going to instantly lose any credibility they have.

p.s. Please don't do this JD! :)

Tony Solorzano said...

Gee, I wonder if that would get me back into Fontana when the series is in town...

Anonymous said...

The one flaw in this plan is that very few website "reporters" will be able to afford to travel to the races. Most will be covering the race from what they see/hear/read on tv, mrn or press releases. This means what they see will already be filtered.

50 yr. fan said...

Sounds like another way to control
the "messenger" to me, but maybe
Na$car recognizes their schilling
website is lacking in content.

Keep up the great work JD!

majorshouse said...

It seems a little skeptical to me as well. Most of us cannot afford to go to the races and considering what I have seen in the media lately about NASCAR, I am not so sure they want my biased politically incorrect opinions.

OSBORNK said...

I think it is just a PR stunt by NA$CAR. They have no intention of having anyone report that is struly independent. In the papers I read, NA$CAR exposure has dropped dramatically. There is now an occasional warmed over AP NA$CAR story in place of the pages of coverage of years past that were done by the paper's staff.

Anonymous said...

I'm very suspicious of NASCAR's motives in this. Citizen journalists? This sounds like the credentialled journalists are like the active duty military and the citizen journalists are the National Guard.

If they decide to let the "citizens" report, they'll have to do so within the confines of Article 4 on the credential application form which states that they can only report what NASCAR approves.

Kool Aid drinkers only need apply.

Tracy said...

I can't wait to see how this shakes out. Put me in the corner with those who don't believe this can be a good thing. . .

As someone else said, who has the money to travel to the races, if the print and other media don't?

David Evertsen said...

Hey I will give NASCAR a pass on this. They have to do something to get people excited about NASCAR maybe this will help. All of the ills that JD points out between lackluster coverage, No TV network. NASCAR films not having an outlet for their amazing work. Maybe they can turn a corner and this is the start. I would love to watch a sport that is not centered on one person.. They have to figure out how to do that and this is a start..

Near Philly said...

Since all I would do is re-word Anon @ 8:23 AM, I'll just say I agree with them.

Anonymous said...

Oh, goody, even more fans wandering around the garage and pit road, getting photos and autographs while they are "reporting."

Just what we need.

GinaV24 said...

Gee, and to think I won't be going to any more races until September. I agree, JD, with so many of the people who used to write about the sport for their newspapers being fired or shut down, there is a lack of reporters probably at the race, except for the ESPN, Fox, TNT folks. Personally, I'd rather read your blog. I just can't see NASCAR actually pulling this off -- they aren't big on anyone offering opinions that don't agree with their view of the world. NASCAR.com is a joke - one of the worst websites to use by far.

Anonymous said...

Great idea on NASCAR's part. It's about time they recognize the impact new media has. I bet more NASCAR fans get their NASCAR news from the various blogs and websites instead of the the AP or Charlotte Observer. It's about time those members of the new media were allowed better access.

Anonymous said...

I am beginning to think that NASCAR can do no right in the eyes of some fans. This is an excellent initiative to reach out to new media, which NASCAR has admittedly been behind in doing. For crying out loud, they are opening up their media center to bloggers for better access! How in the world is this bad? Oh, that's right - NASCAR announced it, so it must be bad.

I've recently been discussing a phenomenon with friends where people love something so much that they hate it. You see it often with Star Wars, as a classic example. The most serious die-hard fans love Star Wars so much that they have come full circle and now hate it -- they hate that it isn't good enough, that it doesn't live up to this mythical status in their heads, that it isn't as good as it used to be, etc. etc.

I see the same thing with NASCAR - I see so many fans that love NASCAR so much that they in fact end up hating NASCAR. The result is that they despise every decision made by NASCAR, criticize every move made by NASCAR, and disbelieve NASCAR at every turn. So if they announce they will let bloggers into the media center, there must be a secret agenda we don't know about. If they suspend a driver using drugs, it must be a conspiracy theory. If they do anything it is automatically wrong in the eyes of the fans.

So sad.

jimmymac said...

This is very intriguing. My wife has been successful personal finance blogger and was approached by a major retailer about participation in a "social media" group. Just like we see here, there were many skeptics. I must say that in my wife's experience in her situation, it has turned out to be a good thing.
The skepticism in understandable. It will be interesting to see how and if this works.

glenc1 said...

I am surprisingly not as skeptical as some of you. I think JD's right, it just means they have open spots in the media room, and also acknowledging blogging, but it's still being more open than usual. The travel question certainly intrigues. Now, if they had rotating passes so that you could apply for races you could attend or something...maybe.

Years ago I wrote--maybe a dozen pieces--for a now-defunct website. The owner used to promise garage passes, but he was not a person of, shall we say, honest character...in any case, I used to imagine myself there, side by side with the powers that be, lol. I would think that if you get a press pass, though, they would require you to understand reporter etiquette, ie, NOT asking for autographs, etc (although I imagine that happens from time to time once a person has credibility.) I fail to see how they can censor someone with a wireless laptop, so perhaps they just expect people to be professional about it. If you got childish, they could revoke it.

Ya know, I saw Mike Helton at a restaurant a few years back and was *sooooo* tempted to say a few words, but etiquette reared its ugly head and I decided to let the man eat his chicken in peace (or pieces...)

Anonymous said...

If they do anything it is automatically wrong in the eyes of the fans.




While I disagree with this, I'd offer an explanation of why it may happen:

Tradition.

NASCAR isn't the most transparent organization around--even you have to admit that.

Personally, I'm waiting for the first blogger who writes something sufficiently critical of NASCAR to get their credential pulled.

Then we'll see some fireworks!

darbar said...

Pick Me !!!! Pick Me!!! I need a job. I can write, sometimes.

OK, here are my demands

1. Private jet to and from the tracks from my home in Wisconsin.

2. My own assigned seat in an air conditioned area at every track. I will accept a seat in one of the luxury boxes.

3. A daily stipend for food and beverages and an entertainment budget.

4. A suite in the best hotels in the area, close to the track. If the hotel is more than 10 miles away, I need a private helicopter to get me to and from the track. I'm NOT waiting in long traffic lines. I'm too good for that.

5. A salary equal to that of the highest paid crew chief. I'm worth at least that much.

6. Nascar paid health insurance, a 401K, company car, Nascar pension plan, paid vacation and finally, and most important, a date with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

In return for all the above, I promise to drink the Nascar Kook Aid, never to write anything negative about the sport or it's big wigs and I will be a cheerleader for Brian France/Mike Helton and anyone else in authority.

Anonymous said...

David Poole used to write critical things about NASCAR all the time. He would write articles and columns damning them for a decision or action. His credential was never pulled. They named a press room after him. Lighten up, guys.

Richard in N.C. said...

I think the recent so-called reporting about Jeremy Mayfield is a perfect example of the anti-NASCAR bias in the old-line media - that is the media that is now or was newspaper based. If NASCAR is controlling what is reported about it, then it is doing an even worse job at that than making the COT sexy.

Anonymous said...

David Poole used to write critical things about NASCAR all the time. He would write articles and columns damning them for a decision or action. His credential was never pulled. They named a press room after him. Lighten up, guys.

The lead NASCAR reporter for the Charlotte Observer will always be treated differently (i.e., better) than Mr. Blogger working out of his home.

Richard in N.C. said...

On further reflection, is Mulhern part of the current "traditional media" or a candidate to be a "Citizen Journalist" since he is now writes for his independent blog?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, but the point is that NASCAR has been hosting a free press that has at times had a field day with critical reporting, and we have not seen any NASCAR shennanigans in terms of silencing reporters or using the power of the credential to block bad stories. So to suddenly imagine it happening now - on the very pilot program NASCAR announced - is kinda silly. Obviously NASCAR is just trying to reach out to the 21st century media, and serious bloggers are a big part of that. Offering access is a positive move and anyone who thinks otherwise just has a chip on their shoulder against NASCAR.

glenc1 said...

anon 5:59, while I agree with some of your thoughts, I also don't blame people with a chip on their shoulder...NASCAR has generally created those negative feelings by making poor choices in the past. I'm just an optimist, lol. And like you, I don't think they'd invite them in only to kick them out. It isn't just Poole who has been critical, Hinton, Mulhern, etc have as well. My argument has been more with the TV people, and NASCAR has always had the screws tighter on them than the rest of the press. I think because most 'readers' are more hardcore fans, not the casual ones they want to attract with TV.

Anonymous said...

Well said glenc1. The TV and Sirius radio folks are all vanilla and are afraid to say anything controversial. It is the dying print media like Poole who hit NASCAR hard on the tough issues. Now Poole is gone, Mulhern is gone, Hinton is gone as newpapers are becoming history.

Karen said...

Darbar, loved your comment.

Matt TSB said...

I guess the biggest question I have is "Why?" This blog is a beacon of light in the darkness of the blogosphere. As much as I sometimes disagree with Mr. Daly, his blog is invariably well written, with fully developed thoughts, correct grammar, a discernable point of view, and at least one trip through the 'ole spellchecker before a post sees the light of day. That's a lot more than I can say for many of the blogs I have seen, whether covering Nascar or anything else.

Just because you have a website doesn't mean you have anything worth saying, or in many cases, even the ability to actually say whatever it is you are trying to get across. How many of these people need to be in the center to write their weekly "Junior Stinks" or "Quit Picking on Junior" posts?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

When the Mayfield issue moves to the media, probably on the day of the court date, we will update it.

In the meantime, you can post on our last Mayfield article or move to SPEED or ESPN.com, both of whom have Mayfield stories posted.

Thanks,

JD

NA$CAR=Control Freaks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

For those of you stopping by TDP for the first time, this is a NASCAR TV and media blog.

We talk primarily about the NASCAR TV partners who are in the third year of a multi-billion dollar TV contract with NASCAR.

Topics sometimes spill over into the reporters and media websites associated with the sport.

Each of our posts is an opinion piece on one subject. We then ask for your opinion on that same subject.

This is the third season of TDP. We average 25 thousand page views a day and more on the weekends. Our content is re-published on multiple NASCAR-related websites around the country. Thanks to Google, this blog is also available in Spanish, German and French.

Thanks for stopping by, hope you can return and offer some views on the topics being discussed here.

JD

Anonymous said...

Good morning, first things first, autograph seeking is a great way to lose your media credentials, just ask those who do coverage. Currently most media centers / deadline rooms are almost full and the overflow rooms are also full of photographers. Travel to the races is not free nor are the requisite hotel rooms. And good grammer skills as opposed to "buy the way" are required as are appropriate dress and laptops. Not quite the free lunch that was imagined.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I understand that good grammar is important. Thanks for the tips, by the way.

Clara said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
hotaru-raganbaby_6 said...

Hey, if this comes to pass, I'd be up for it. I've done some writing for another site in the past (could not continue due to various circumstances; ie, lack of focus, me getting in trouble at school for working on my articles)

But I think I'd get in trouble for 'stalking' a certain Ford driver... *wink wink*

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Could this be NASCAR's way of trying to encourage newspapers and other professional media to send rep's more often? If you don't use your seat, we'll let someone else.

LeeAnne said...

Is there any information on when these credentials are going to be made available? Or how we apply for them?
I'm a freelance photographer & sports blogger living in Daytona. It would be great to get a little closer to the action than what I have been allowed in the past. Especially with the Coke Zero coming up next weekend.