Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It Started With A Cheer

As Trevor Bayne crossed the finish line of the Daytona 500, some of the media folks credentialed for the race cheered. In journalism circles, this is a big mistake. Reporters are neutral. That is what makes them good reporters.

At Daytona, the media center is now a mix of online journalists, TV and radio reporters and writers for various NASCAR blogs.

Tom Bowles was a freelance reporter for Sports Illustrated working the NASCAR beat and had been for several years. He also operates the NASCAR website. Basically, his money was made with SI and his passion is Frontstretch.

Bowles was one of the folks who applauded when Bayne crossed the line. In subsequent articles and tweets he expressed that his passion as a fan witnessing a major upset got the best of him. Bowles also reported Bayne got an ovation later in the media center when he conducted post-race interviews.

On Twitter, Bowles went at it with several of the top NASCAR reporters in the sport about the issue of applauding in the media center. Twitter is read by tons of NASCAR folks, including the high-ranking management. Bowles did not back down and things got pretty personal between himself and several reporters.

Today, Bowles was fired by for his actions in Daytona. The issue is a culture clash, plain and simple. The problem for NASCAR is how to handle the repercussions. There will be many.

Bowles was not one of the Citizen Journalists, he was not a blogger and not an amateur working on a website as a hobby. He has been an NASCAR reporter for years. Perhaps, that is the criteria on which he was judged and ultimately dismissed.

Folks on all sides of the issue have strong feelings. Some applaud for standing up for journalism. Some believe passion for a sport can be overwhelming when a unique event occurs. Still others point to TV and the way some of the on-air personalities move back and forth between journalism, analysis and commentary.

Click here to read Tom's article at talking about this issue. In my email contacts with Tom he has always been a good guy and I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

If you would like to leave a comment, just click on the comments button below.


Don said...

I'm all for just the facts ma'am but I think this win went above the normal exciting finish. A twenty year old rookie winning his first Daytona 500 for a team thats been there from the beginning and had not won the race in 35 years. To a race fan, that is as significant as that silly US/Russia hockey game in Lake Placid.

I would not tolerate bias in his writeup of the race, but I think he and the rest of the reporters were entitled to express their excitement over a surprising finish. Trevor Bayne hasn't been around long enough to generate any favoritism in the press.

My guess is that the day the Brooklyn Dodgers finally won the World Series, there were a few NY reporters who were clapping.

Vince said...

Personal opinion? I think Tom getting fired over this is a crock. Yeah I know about the unwritten journalism rules........blah......blah....blah.

I watched the post race news presser on There were many journalists there who clapped after Trevor finished his comments. And I saw at least 6-8 who went up to him afterwards to shake his hand. How come these other journalists aren't getting fired or slammed on Twitter?

I think the so called lame stream Nascar media want to have it both ways. Be a "journalist" when they write their articles and then say what ever the hell they want on Twitter or their blogs. So which is it? I can count on one hand the REAL Nascar journalists. The rest are Koolade drinking Nascar butt kissers. Always toeing the company line. You guys (and gals) know who you are. Do some real journalism for once in your life. You guys all ask the same questions, week in, week out. Now a journalist shows a little emotion for a history making event in the sport and he gets slammed on Twitter and fired. It's not right. This is a new era and there needs to be a new set of "unwritten" journalism rules.

I know DW and MW are not journalists, but paid color commentators. But to the avgerage fan there is no difference. You all comment on the sport. To us if Tom can't clap in the press box, DW and MW shouldn't be able to cheer for their favorites over the air either. Or push their sponsors and their web sites. In my eyes and in most fans eyes, it's one and the same. You guys are all on the air, on Twitter, on the Internet pushing your own little agendas. Pure and simple. And it's up to me, the fan to filter out all the BS. And lately there has been a lot of BS to filter out.

Sorry you got fired Tom. I enjoy your articles on One word of wisdom. I over the years have been fired from a couple of jobs. Both times the next job I got was 100 times better than the old job. It just took that kick in the pants for me to go out there and find it.

Jonathan said...

seriously???? What a joke SI is..
Thats just wrong emotion is a great thing! I saw it first hand when Gordon won at Phoenix.. Fans cheered screamed hugged and much more. I talked to fans after Gordon pulled into victory lane and people started leaving, many who were not even Gordon fans were cheering and I just said wow this is awsome! Reminds me of Daytona 1998 when fans all came together and cheered for Dale, even if they didnt like him they still cheered why??? Emotion! I've read plenty of sports articles where they talk about what they like and thats ok? I dont get this very fishy

Jonathan said...

this was at the bottom of speedway media! This one sentence should of saved this man his job

The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher.

Anonymous said...

SI, needs to scrap the printing is now a DINOSAUR( AND HURRY WE NEED THE OIL )

AncientRacer said...

Jeff Burton came to visit me this morning. Well, not exactly. Not like a personal visit or something like that; more like a vision.

And he spoke to me. He said, "Man, remember what I said late last season: 'This is a game. It's supposed to be fun.'"

Well taken.

While I can subscribe in part to all the delicate and oh-so-professional, "We are journalists! We are objective! We never show our feelings!" stuff I just cannot get my head around it fully. Not with sports, or perhaps more clearly put, not with the results sporting contests.

If you are not a fan of the sport you cover, then just what are you doing there? Why waste your time? If your only answer is money then why not go cover something else? There are a great many patently uninteresting things in this world crying out for coverage. At least I guess there are, so go cover them.

Sports is the Toy Department of Life. Sports is not revolutions. Sports is not the doings of the Federal Reserve. Sports is not murder, mayhem and unrest (Well, unless your beat is British Football). Sports is a place apart.

I really believe, though I am often known to be off my rocker, that I am intelligent enough to discern a bias in reporting. I may care about that bias when it comes to matters of substance, but for the life of me I cannot care when it comes to sports and especially to a sport I love and have loved for over half a century.

I, in fact, find it comforting to know that the people covering MY sport love it just as much as I do. It tells me they give a damn. That they care about something that in the context of the larger world is next to meaningless.

"This is a game. It's supposed to be fun."

Well, put Mr. Mayor. Well put indeed.

(AncientRacer now applauds dazzled by Mr. Burton's brilliance)

14_Patti_14 said...

Maybe that's why some of these supposed "Journalists" can so easily put down the sport. They're just reporting the facts. They're just doing their job. They don't love it like we do.

But Vince said what I was thinking. If you're a journalist then you're not entitled to a blog or a twitter account. Sorry.

Three or four "Journalists" cried about this and caused a twitter war and the guy losing his job is Tom.

What about those who started the twitter war? Why haven't they been reprimanded?

tom said...

In my 14 years as a sports writer, I've witnessed two people who were invited to press boxes (not official journalists) get ejected for cheering - and it was done within minutes.

One other highlight I witnessed in the Candlestick Park press box was when Terrell Owens was a San Francisco 49er. After he scored a touchdown against Green Bay (I think) in a late-season game, he promptly grabbed a pom-pom from one of the cheerleaders and started dancing.

Everyone in the press box (including me, I have to admit) burst out in laughter. The only admonition we received came when one of the 49ers' PR staff came on the microphone and reminded us "there's no cheering in the press box."

The verbal reprimand had the sincerity of Eeyore telling Pooh to quit stealing the honey.

It should be alright for a journalist to react in a NON-EXCESSIVE way to a special moment as it unfolds before him, especially when it's the unlikeliest winner in Daytona 500 history. He or she is human, with real thoughts, feelings and emotions, and once that translates to the printed page or broadcast after the facts are doled out FIRST, then real, impactful journalism ensues.

This Daytona 500 was special. It's a shame one of my brethren had to lose his job simply because he was taking in and reacting to the winning moment.

Anonymous said...

I certainly don't profess to know and understand all the nuances of Broadcast journalism, but being fired for applauding Bayne's accomplishment seems extreme. At the National level of Journalism, I'm of the belief that honesty, ethics and objectivity left us a long time ago. If I were in that media room and witnessed what Trevor and the Wood Brothers accomplished, I too would have stood and cheered. Who knows, maybe we don't know the whole story. Time will tell.

starrcade76 said...

I'd hope he wasn't fired due to applauding or shaking someones hand.

I assume it was based on whatever the twitter comments were that got exchanged.

Which may bring up the bigger dilemma. That is, at what point are someone's comments their own. And at what point does an employer, sponsor, NASCAR, etc.. feel those same comments are a reflection of them.

MRM4 said...

I do some freelance writing for a newspaper where I live. I write on local racing. I never attended any type of journalism school. I have always been a good writer and my local paper asked me to start writing for them almost six years ago. Even though I never sought to be a writer in any way, I do know a person covering an event has to be completely unbiased when they are attending that event. That means not cheering or showing displeasure toward those involved.

I have no problem with a little bit of applause or even a handshake, especially on a story such as Trevor Bayne's. That's a once-in-a-lifetime story in today's NASCAR. But outright cheering while the action is taking place is unprofessional. Anyone with any sense should know this.

I do think SI's reaction to fire the guy is a little harsh. Maybe a reprimand or some type of 2 to 3-week suspension would have sent the proper notice. But it's their call and they've already done what they felt they had to do.

Anonymous said...

I have watched almost all of the motor racing that has ever been broadcast since the Wide World of Sports in the 1960s. I have attended hundreds of late model, sprint car, Cup, Busch/Nationwide, truck, sports car, Indy Car and drag races. All as a fan. I have never found it necessary to applaud, cheer or otherwise act emotionally to what I have witnessed, however I have enjoyed it all immensely. I also have no problem with journalism being a profession and having standards and practices that all journalists must live up to. I have been reading Tom's work for years now and I hate to see Tom lose his job. Maybe Tom will learn from this. However, Tom knew the terms and conditions of his employment from the beginning of the SI gig and Tom also knows he cannot summarily reject those T&C because they no longer suit him. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

The problem is definition. Who gets to say what's a momentous moment, to put it starkly? Sure the Wood Brothers win after years was great. Trevor Bayne becoming the youngest Daytona 500 winner was great. But I thought Jeff Gordon tying Cale Yarborough on the all time Cup win list was great. As was Kyle Busch's Bristol 3-race winning sweep last year. Were those 2 accomplishments cheered and/or applauded by credentialed media? Why not?

So the answer to me remains, for credentialed media who get all that special access & priviledge in return for their professionalism, no cheering (or crying, or booing) at all because we'll never agree on moments that deserve it.

Anonymous said...

I'm very upset over this :(. Like Vince yes I understand the "rules" however I'm not going to dismiss what he said for clapping for what probably lasted 30 seconds.

It's a shame that you lose your job & others claim your credibility as a journalist is out the window for clapping but being BFFs with a driver is OK :(.

@starrcode67--Tom was civil in his conversation there was nothing out the line. He defended his position & disagreed that him clapping suddenly invalidated anything he has written or would write in the future. There was nothing in his conversations that would have put SI in a bad light. In fact, unless you knew who it was only from the tweets you wouldn't even know who he worked for until you went to his bio. Whether or not the convo came to Twitter, it's possible that TPTB at SI still would have found out. The only reason it was ever discussed on Twitter to begin with, is that applause was captured on the feed from the Media Center interviews on NASCAR.COM since that is done live.

Wrabb said...

You Can not cheer in the press box PERIOD. As a student Journalist I have covered events at several SEC schools and before every event an announcement it made that this is a working press box and cheering will not be tolerated and violators will be asked to leave my security personnel. We're not even allowed to wear orange when covering a Tennessee Sporting event.

YOU CAN NOT CHEER AS A JOURNALIST PERIOD and in his role at SI he is a journalist and SI had every right to fire him.

It is a basic rule that your unbiased it's not unwritten and it's drilled into your head at J school I feel bad for Tom but rules are rules and you must follow them

Vince said...

This issue to me is looking more and more like a "print media" vs "Internet media" thing. I'm seeing a lot of whinning by the old school print media types about the ethics of clapping or cheering in the media center. What I'm saying is who cares? All I care about is objective reporting. I could give a rats behind about what goes on in the media center at the track.

MRM4 said...

Wrabb, you must be in my neck of the woods. I live in Knoxville.

When a media person openly cheers for someone to do something, they lose any credibility when talking about that person or most anyone else. See DW as an example. Anything he says for or against Kyle Busch cannot be taken with much credit.

Anonymous said...

I'd be willing to bet that the firing was less the result of clapping in the media center and more the result of the writer's public and nasty clashes on Twitter.

Think about it: which made him look like a worse rep for SI? Clearly it would be the immature Twitter fights.

Anonymous said...

You don't need to be in the media center to cover NASCAR. Sure, it's true - you have first-hand access to the post-race quotations... but that's about the only advantage.

Many major sports are covered by reporters not in attendance. Boxing is notorious for not sending reporters to the fights. Not all the golf journalists attend every event.

Do you *NEED* to be in the infield watching on TV to really cover the sport? After all, you're still watching on TV.

James said...

I guess anyone with a tear in their eye when Dale Sr passed ten years ago were called unprofessional also?

With all the issues facing coverage of racing this is rather petty.

It should be noted there are FEW journalists covering the sport in this day.

Mike Mulhern is the classic example of a journalist capable of standing up for what he believes in.

Vince said...

James said, "It should be noted there are FEW journalists covering the sport in this day.

Mike Mulhern is the classic example of a journalist capable of standing up for what he believes in.".

Amen brother!

Roland said...

I hate it for the guy but it was his responsibility to know the rules. And Im not talking ethics you learn in college, Im talking about what the person who signs his paychecks thinks is right or wrong. People are turning this into a blogger vs print media thing, but really its not. I personally dont think he did anything wrong, but its his responsibility to know what his employer thinks is responsible or unresponsible.

What he needs to do, since he is now damaged goods, is to either become a blogger, or pull a "mulhern" so to speak and go out on his own. Mike is one of the few journalists I like.

longtimeracefan said...

While researching this topic, a post by Dave Kindred of IUPUI's National Sports Journalism Center, quoted an unnamed source as saying, "NASCAR press rooms are basically frat parties."

Shortly after the finish at Daytona,'s David Caraviello tweeted, "It's not exactly a positive thing that so many "journalist" in media center exploded in applause as Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500." Caraviello then had a 15 minute twitter exchange with a young male college student about his thoughts on the matter. At the end of the back and forth conversation, the young man tweeted: "I respectfully disagree, but that's what makes Twitter fun right?"

Tom Bowles should have remembered what happened to Denny Hamlin regarding last year's Twitter debate, instead of staying up until the wee hours Monday morning after the race, tweeting back and forth with his Sports Illustrated colleague, Brant James, about this journalism 101 learned rule.

It didn't help Tom when the next day, a fellow blogger posted a rather lame diatribe naming three prominent NASCAR writers for their support of the no clap/cheer rule.

What probably sealed Bowles fate was his own admitted inability to separated his passion from his profession. And his shortsighted need to place his personal standards above those of his peers.

Anonymous said...

I think you all are missing the point. Clapping in the press room may be a serious faux pas, but does anyone really think SI let their writer loose just because of some claps?

What was seriously unprofessional was the way the guy took to Twitter and then got into unpleasant fights with other members of the media. It's one thing to make a mistake, and another to defend it in a public forum in a rather confrontational manner.

Given the timing of the firing, it seems clear that it was Twitter and not the clapping (per se) that got him fired. He isn't the first guy to lose his job by mouthing off on Twitter. But, let's be clear: this more than the clapping led to his demise.

terri said...

All I can add is that SI is off my list.

They were never on it really, because of that degrading swimsuit issue.

But they've lost all respect from me now.

And off the subject here, but why do people posting on here want to stay anonymous? You have an opinion, at least have the stones to put a name with it. Sorry, just an observation.

PammH said...

I was shocked when I read the FS article by TB today about him losing his job for clapping, esp when I heard many others did the same thing. I was also shocked in following the "twitter war" between TB & a few other writers when Nate Ryan said he didn't shed a tear when Big E died. IMO, SI over-reacted, but I think it was more of a response to the twitter war than TB's reaction at the media center. I could be wrong, of course, but look at Nascar's response to RN & DH. It sucks, but welcome to the instant media world...:( I'm on FB, but I don't post MANY things there. But twitter-I let it loose sometimes. It's the heat of the moment & it can turn on you in a instant. Should be a warning to all.

no problem with anons said... JD has noted, sometimes people post here who cannot let themselves be named because they are in the 'business'. But I always wonder why anyone finds that important. It is very easy to create a fake identity here; doesn't take 'stones' you think Ancient Racer's given name is really "Ancient"? Just sayin.....

Dot said...

I got to Vince's letter and had to say that I totally agree with him. It saves me from typing. Thanks Vince.

Yeah, maybe it was a journalistic faux pas, but Tom just got caught up in the moment. I don't think he deserved firing.

I'll still read him on Frontstretch.

GinaV24 said...

I am so shocked by this, I just can't believe it. What a stupid decision by SI. I always read Tom Bowles columns, both SI and Frontstretch -- he's one of the few writers, including yourself,JD, that I consider to be reasonable and unbiased in what they write.

So in other words, it's fine for the broadcasters in the TV booth to openly cheer for a driver or manufacturer during the race and during the many shows they are on, but not for a writer to applaud in the media center for a win like the one that Bayne had in 2011.

I wish Tom good luck and hope that someone has the good sense to hire him immediately. just got dropped from my list of sites to read.

Sally said...

It seems to me that none of the fans have any way of knowing what happened in the media center. If it doesn't show up in what they put out publicly, why should it matter? I can only wish that FOX and ESPN would demand the same sort of 'professionalism' from their on air staff. One of the reasons I have so much trouble sitting through an entire race now is having to listen to the blatant cheer leading from the booth and their personal agendas regarding sponsors/products. It's even more puzzling to me since I don't find many of those who objected to the 'cheering' aren't quite as objective in their public offerings as they seem to think they are.

Tom said...

While I enjoy Bowles and am sorry to see him lose his position, I think perhaps the general "media" surrounding NASCAR may have been his undoing. Regardless of your personal opinion of SI, they do attempt to provide solid "unbiased" reporting on sports. As for whether that is always achieved, I will not say, but it is attempted. In the NASCAR world, this is discouraged. The broadcast on TV and radio are partisan love fests (koolaid), and many print outlets are compromised by ISC ownership or involvement. These are things that are discussed and debated on here all the time. I would argue that this has been SI's response to exactly that situation. They do not want to be associated with the "cheerleading" element of the press. While cheering cannot be realistically be expected to NOT occur, it may frighten some more mainstream outlets. Keep in mind, as JD has pointed out, many of the personalities this year have been preaching a "keep it positive" message(Larry mac etc.), which is the LAST thing SI wants to be associated with right now. It could be argued that SI wants only a "conflict" story, but I would disagree. There is a difference between a ISC driven "positive" message, and just a story. Unfortunately , I believe Tom get caught in a place not of his doing, but one made by the broadcast "partners"

Inverness, FL

Bill B said...

I totally understand the rule of no cheering/applauding and why it should be the norm. I just don't think the penalty should be your job if once in a blue moon someone slips.

Let's be honest, this rule is only about "appearance". So, if he was truly biased he could write an article to that effect and as long as he didn't clap or cheer then it would all be good. I'd prefer it the other way around - him cheer in the pressbox and then write an unbiased article.

I think a warning should be issued as a reminder when something like this happens but firing him seems extreme. That is why I tend to agree that it had more to do with the twitter postings (which I have not seen) than the act itself. Ladies and gentlemen of all professions, stay off of the social networking sites, the things you say will come back to haunt you.

Ghost of Curtis Turner said...

It's shame that this happened. It is BS that SI fired Tom over clapping at the finish of the 500.
If he had been one of the "blessed writers" by NA$CAR would this have happened.
Let us examine SI "journalistic integrity" ..... "Swimsuit Issues", Pandering to every fan of winning teams by selling the "Official Sport Illustrated Commemorative Issue" at inflated top gouge prices, yea they have some integrity, nuff said.
I am sure Tom will land on his feet with a better gig.

Anonymous said...

What Media People Complained?

52 yr. fan said...

TV networks will never require
professionalism because they are
earning additional revenues from
the overdone in-car cams with ads,
the helment cams of advertiser's cars, and DW with his tattoo parlor; loving a Toyota driver.

Can you imagine a print journalist
interrupting a colum to insert a
"sponsifier" ad?

eastenn said...

....and I guess no one shed a tear when they watched the HOOTERS hauler roll out of Bristol that rainy Saturday morning.
This was a once in 50 years upset by the most beloved bedrock traditon team in NASCAR .....of course they cheered.....It was an event NOT a protacol changer....just a reaction.

Anonymous said...

SI has pretty pictures, but very unemotional, monotone like, written stories.
I did not realize people take SI seriously, and since when has SI taken NASCAR seriously?

Anonymous said...

Maybe this outdated mode that SI operates in is the reason readership is down. I think more swimsuits might help the sales. The coverage they provide isn't working well these days

Tom shows no favoritism in his columns so what is the problem? Its not like it was a weekly thing. Maybe because its not stick & ball? Reason for firing?
He had the audacity to cheer. What sports needs is more Tom & less of the "appropriate professional detached" journalist who do not care about a sport (like a Tony K),
and a bit more of fans who love what they cover, give a rip about it & say so.
Enough corporate, koolaid slurping "professionals" who tote the line & move on to the next sporting event.

Good luck Tom

Anonymous said...

One of the "complaining" journalist said that ANYONE holding media credentials should not be cheering, clapping, or showing emotions. Well, guess who has media credentials? DW, his brother, and the rest of the color analyst and commentators. Yes, those wonderful members of F Troop in the booth all have media credentials. That means they're supposed to abide by the same standards according to the complaining journalists. This is why fans don't like all the shilling, cheerleading, and biased diatribe coming out of the broadcast booth. So if the credential media members in the booth aren't being held to the same standards as the credential print or internet media members, that means there's a double standard. But then, considering how much integrity most of these media shills anyway who only report what NA$CAR says they will instead of reporting all the facts, you really have to wonder.

Stick With the Biff said...

I enjoyed tom 1:45's comments (the TO story was funny.)

Generally speaking, I don't think we can complain about DW's 'Junior' cheering while saying that this is okay. It's not, and clearly from the journalist comments here it is NOT acceptable to ever do that. That said--the punishment does not appear to fit the crime. Other writers/broadcasters have been suspended and then re-instated for worse infractions. I said 'does not appear' because as others have pointed out, there may be other things here we don't know about. but I will say this--Twitter may be immediate, but that is NOT always a good thing. Most people would benefit from giving a little more thought to controversial topics instead of just gut reaction. And then you can't take it back.

Anonymous said...

Considering the event, driver & team that won it, who wouldn't be struck with overwhelming emotion? We are human, and we can lose our composure at times. It's sad that one moment that isn't vanilla in NASCAR turns into something this stupid. Hopefully Tom continues to write on the Frontstretch.

Anonymous said...

I think SI would have not fired this guy if he had simply come out and said "I'm sorry, I got caught up in the moment and made a mistake and had a lapse in my professional judgment."

But instead, the guy takes to Twitter and mounts an abrasive tweeting argument that he was right to do what he did. No wonder he got fired.

Chadderbox said...

I agree that the Tweeting may have done him in...but I still want to say this: If SI were running Nascar it's quite possible that DW, Mikey, Rusty, Big Brad and maybe even Phil Parsons would not be on the television broadcasts. Is that out of line for me to say?

bobbydjr said...

I'm not sure I can convey this correctly by writing what I think.

But I wonder if the same atmosphere that exists today where a journalist can't show any emotion at all, had existed the day Dale Earnhardt died, how many that cried would have been fired. And it's well known that many of them did, especially the ones who were able to get close to Dale and became friends with him.

Don said...

RobbieJr -

This is a long standing rule for journalists. It was in place when Earnhardt died. I can't say whether anyone cried, but cheering or booing the winner of a race would theoretically show bias on the part of a reporter and that bias could influence his writing.

Weeping over the death of a competitor is not a demonstration of bias. I expect that there were some who wrote glowing stories the next day who actually thought that he was a dirty driver. But they didn't let their personal opinion affect their writing.

After reading these comments, I have to come to believe that what did in Tom Bowles was thathe chose the moment to start a Twitter battle against a well established rule of journalism. He should have backed down and taken a more diplomatic approach, but he could never actually overturn the rule. We must have unbiased journalists, however we must occasionally overlook a momentary display of personal opinion.

Vicky D said...

What a shame for Tom Bowles if his article was impartial I don't know what the big deal was. Anyway, there might be more to this story. Hey, JD, have you checked out Randy LaJoie on Hub tonight?

Anonymous said...

Chadderbox, that is an excellent suggestion! That is a perfect resolution for all that ails NASCAR and their television partners.

stevelindsey said...

Does anyone remember DW cheering Mikey on in the Daytona 500 the day Sr died? How about Ned Jarrett cheering his son to a win?

Anonymous said...

Television commentators are not journalists. Obviously, DW cheering over-the-air is not the same thing as having a silent media room where deadline writers are supposed to be filing unbiased stories. I don't think FOX presents DW as unbiased, nor do I think they want him to be unbiased. Same with Rusty Wallace. To compare his commentary with a newspaper journalist is unfair (to both of them).

Anonymous said...

I covered boxing for many years. You may not have noticed, but the media sit ringside in the first 5-20 rows (depending on the fight) on one side of the ring.

Not only is cheering absolutely verboten, but so is reacting with even a mild "oooh" when a monster head-snapping punch is landed. Not only that, but you are not allowed to stand up during a knockdown. This last one is really hard to do. When someone gets clocked and knocked down, you just naturally feel like jumping to your feet to see the guy on the canvas. And when you are in a packed arena, all 15,000 people will jump to their feet when a knockdown happens, too. As a journalist, you have to fight every reflex you have not to stand up when this happens. It isn't easy. But if you do it, you're pretty much guaranteed to get black-balled by the other members of the press.

That said, I can think of many many fights where a particular winner came into the media room after a fight and was met with applause from the entire media in attendance. In these cases, they are not really cheering because someone one or someone lost, but they will applaud a masterful performance. They won't hoot or holler, but they will applaud once when the guy comes to the podium to take questions. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

Anonymous said...

The fact that a 20 y.o. kid won the race in a Wood Brothers' Ford. WAS worthy of applause.

The Wood Brothers team is the last team that has been in "Cup" for all these years under the same management [Petty did NOT own a controlling interest in RPM; in fact, by all reports, just a few percent of the team].

This win was the BEST possible thing that could have happened for NASCAR.

Twenty year old kid wins with a much respected team that has been a big part of the series' history but hasn't won ANYTHING since 2001, not to mention that their last win at Daytona [1976] was one of the all-time classic "Daytona Finishes."

A better story than McMurray winning, better than if Dale Jr won on "the anniversary", better than any other finish that I can dream up.

This win is the latest in a long line of unlikely wins that populate NASCAR's history [some of which I just mentioned].

The Tweets may have sunk the man, but what he may have done is nothing compared to what DW does every minute.

BTW Ned Jarrett was TOLD by the TV director to "Be a Dad" and he did.

Ned Jarrett, even when he did that was more objective than most of those knuckleheads that "report" the sport on TV.

Anonymous said...

Ned was objective when it came to drivers---not so much when it came to NASCAR, but those restraints are pretty much still in place today--can't really fault him for that. But yes, he was given permission.

I get that color commentators are not trained journalists, but I don't think it's too much to ask for them to try and be as unbiased as possible. For all the complaints about Rusty, I have never heard him yell 'go Steve!' (granted, there haven't been many of those moments...) I never heard Dale Jarrett do it either, and he's probably known some of those guys a long time. But it sounds to me like some of you underestimate the expectations of the press room. It is what it is, and I do think it's important that *someone* try and maintain some journalistic rules.

Anonymous said...

I am a little surprise to see people saying both "Journalists are all biased" and "He should have applauded because the race was exciting."

Folks, those are two opposite attitudes. You want non-biased reporting? Then you don't allow cheering.

You want cheering reporters? Do you really? No, you don't want fans covering races, because that's how you get biased reporting.

Should reporters also boo Kyle Busch? That's what you're asking for.

See, "emotion" isn't all positive. When you open that door, you get all of it, even boos and jeers.

Bowles screwed up. Period.

GinaV24 said...

TV commentators may not be "journalists", but they constantly speak of themselves as "broadcast professionals". I don't consider the level of cheerleading that DW and Mikey do to be consistent with any sort of professional behavior. The journalistic code of conduct may not be applicable here, but the FACT that the majority of the people providing "commentary" to the races have a financial or personal interest in the sport allows for an unacceptable level of bias.

It may not be apples to apples in the comparison, but if Tom could be fired for a moment of excitement (or as is more likely by defending himself via twitter), then someone needs to take the so called "broadcast profesionals" to task for being over the line with this.

I'm not saying kill the excitement in the booth, but I do think that out and out cheerleading or in some cases, the outright hate/jealousy you hear in some voices for certain drivers, is over the line of being professional in the booth - at that point, you are a fan, not a broadcaster.

eastenn said...

Right to cheer or wrong. Proffessional or was good to see an event like the
WOOD BROS..(tradition&class) with Trevor Bayne (new&class) get everyone's RACING BLOOD flowing again. The media...NASCAR ..and the fans needed it for some time now.

Anonymous said...

I will never purchase another issue of S.I.


red said...

i know i'm late & that i seem to be in the minority here but . . .
just like "there's no crying in baseball!" there's no cheering by professional journalists in the media room. period. did journalists "shed a tear" when dale earnhardt died? absolutely. but that is not the same as cheering a result in a contest one is paid to cover as objectively as possible.

i don't work in the profession but, as a consumer of what the professionals produce, i expect each and every one of them to be as objective and informative as possible. if their standard is "no cheering," then i expect that to be respected and followed by all who agree to be included in this profession.

a commentator is not, by default, a journalist so whatever the booth guys do/have done is, for me, irrelevant to the discussion.

i also have no knowledge of what happened between bowles & his former employer, except what bowles has written &, being an employer myself, i know there is another version of what happened, one we haven't heard. (& by the way? that's appropriate: disciplinary action, including termination, is a matter between the employee & employer. the employee is, of course, free to discuss it as she/he wishes: the employer is not.)

so, does it suck that bowles is out of a job? absolutely. but taking responsibility for ones action & the consequences thereof is part of being an adult, no matter how much it sucks.

Vince said...

I've heard some of the lame stream media bring ethics into this arguement. That makes me laugh. They are so two faced it isn't even funny. These are the same "journalists" who go on the Magical Mystery Media tour at the beginning of every season and get a bag full of free SWAG at every race shop they visit. Plus once the season starts they also get free meals from Nascar in the media cencer on race weekends.

Now I ask you is it ethical to take free SWAG from the race teams? Is it ethical to eat a free meal provided by the sanctioning body? This all seems like a double standard to me. You can't have it both ways guys. If you want to be so high and mighty with your ethics, why accept the SWAG and free meals?

Also I am getting damn tired of certain media members, both print/internet and tv, talking down to the fans. In particular the fans who, gasp, might dare disagree with them. You guys, the lame stream media, all are acting like a bunch of children.

Zenoge said...

It's ironic that I am writing about this because I have no interest in sports at all and much less in NASCAR. However, after listening to Neal Conan's interview with Tom Bowles I had to opine. There is NO such thing as objectivity -- not in journalism, not in science, not in life. Humans filter everything in the world through our culture and past experiences. We are not robots devoid of feelings. While I do expect journalists (and scientists for that matter) to be balanced in their interpretations, analysis and writings -- I do NOT expect them to be impartial or objective. I applaud Tom Bowles for standing up for his humanity and reminding us all that when spectacular moments in life occur it's okay to show emotion. I wish I had a job I could offer Mr. Bowles...