Monday, July 20, 2009
ESPN Convenes NASCAR Media Drug Summit
It is an off-week for the Sprint Cup Series. There is no RaceDay show, no Victory Lane program and This Week in NASCAR has been replaced by a special on Roush Performance Engineering.
All of this leaves an opening for ESPN to once again host a reporters roundtable show on the Monday version of NASCAR Now. This program has worked well in the past by featuring print, Internet and radio journalists who are not normally seen on TV.
Now that the Jeremy Mayfield story has exploded once again across the national landscape, the timing for this Monday's NASCAR reporter roundtable could not be better. Just wait until you hear the starting line-up.
Stepping-in for Allen Bestwick as host will be Mike Massaro. Veteran fans will proudly step-up and relate stories of seeing Massaro literally chasing driver's personal vehicles down the NASCAR access roads after races for ESPN interviews.
When NASCAR and ESPN parted ways the last time, there were ruffled feathers and bruised egos all the way around. NASCAR used the very same rules that ESPN had mercilessly imposed on other broadcast entities to deny ESPN access to the tracks.
Caught in the middle was Massaro. He was truly the last man standing who was able to continue to provide interviews and updates from the races. Helipads, airport runways and even traffic lights served as his interview locations.
Monday, Massaro will lead perhaps the most powerful media ship in the NASCAR TV navy from the High Definition studios of ESPN2 in Bristol, CT. NASCAR is back on ESPN and Massaro has been justly rewarded.
Joining Massaro will be Ryan McGee, a senior writer from the ESPN.com staff. McGee spent a lot of time at the NASCAR Media Group in Charlotte, NC helping to create much of the TV content viewers enjoyed during SPEED's NASCAR heyday. He also helped out on a little project that won an Emmy Award. The movie was simply called "Dale."
McGee was the person who thought it might be a nice idea to find former NASCAR truck series driver Aaron Fike and get the truth about his drug use in relation to driving and racing under the influence of heroin.
The single story that resulted from McGee's efforts changed the sport forever. Suddenly, NASCAR VP Jim Hunter's words on drug testing for "reasonable suspicion" seemed empty. Click here for McGee's original story. The drivers suddenly wanted tougher standards, regular testing and a professional organization involved. They got all three.
Monday, McGee returns to NASCAR Now as a panelist with the sport in the middle of a mind-bending drug testing issue that seems to have no end. Who better to speak to the issue than the man who sparked the changes?
Nate Ryan is USA Today's NASCAR reporter. He is familiar to many fans as someone who is on various media outlets being interviewed frequently. If you don't know him, click here for a great story that may grab your attention about how reporters work their way up to a "national beat."
Ryan is also on Twitter, a service that has become tremendously popular with NASCAR fans. It allows him to communicate directly, in almost real time, with whoever would like to read his messages. It has proven to be a service that Ryan has mastered in terms of getting NASCAR information and links to fans. His direct approach and honest tone should be a welcome perspective to the NASCAR Now program.
The final member of this Monday line-up is a TDP favorite from the old Tradin' Paint show on SPEED. Associated Press reporter Jenna Fryer had some knock-down drag-out brawls with Kyle Petty that were amazing. She proved that she will listen, but will not be moved off her views just because someone says she is wrong.
Click here for one of Fryer's recent stories where she reviewed the issues on the table with Mayfield and then wrote in plain language the results. Fryer is an old-school reporter and the AP in front of her name makes that very clear. Agree or disagree, Fryer's weekly column makes sure readers know how she feels about an issue.
This line-up is going to make for a Monday to remember at 5PM ET on ESPN2. The program will re-air at 9PM PT and segments will certainly be seen on the ESPN.com website. But, what role can TDP readers play in this program?
Since we are lucky enough to have your comments reviewed by many NASCAR media folks, how about addressing some issues right now in advance of the Monday TV show.
How do you think the NASCAR media has done on reporting this story to date? What have they not told you about where this issue is concerned? What has been done well?
If you were Mike Massaro, what one question would you ask of these panelists that could help shed some light on issues that are still confusing?
The previous TDP post on Mayfield (click here) drew over 200 tremendous comments and showed the intelligence of the NASCAR fan base. This is another good opportunity to put some topics and questions out that this group can address on Monday.
To add your opinion or comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-oriented website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks once again for taking time out of your day to keep this NASCAR conversation going.