• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Monday, January 05, 2009

THINGS THAT HAPPENED

Several noteworthy things have happened since I last posted. I'll review those right after reminding you the 39th AARWBA All-America Team ceremony, presented by A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, will be this Saturday night at the Ontario, Calif. Hilton. Members first will tour John Force Racing and do some media drag racing at Pomona. The Shav Glick Newsmakers Forum is at 5:30 p.m., followed by the pre-dinner reception, co-hosted by ESPN, MAZDASPEED and Valvoline. Legendary broadcaster/announcer Dave McClelland will MC. Susan Wade and I are co-chairs.

In addition to Team driver awards, the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy winner will be announced. The Titus, named in memory of the late racer/journalist who was an AARWBA member, goes to the driver who received the most Team votes regardless of category. Some of the other honors to be presented include the Jim Chapman Award, for excellence in motorsports PR, and the Pioneer In Racing. AARWBA will pay tribute to Paul Newman, Mike Hollander, Phil Hill, Scott Kalitta and Bob Carlson.

* Carlson, Porsche's longtime PR expert, died just before Christmas after a lengthy battle with cancer. Bob was a Chapman Award winner. He was the first to step-up and promise Porsche as an official sponsor of AARWBA's 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2005. He and I worked on the Porsche CART program with the late Al Holbert in 1987 and 1988. I will never forget Sept. 30, 1988, when Al's plane crashed after takeoff from Columbus, Ohio. Bob and I went through that terrible experience together and fielded countless media communications from around the world. God Bless.

* I have no doubt financially struggling NASCAR fans just delighted in this news release:

"Clint Bowyer . . . took delivery of his Beechcraft Premier IA, the world’s fastest and most technologically advanced single-pilot business jet. With a cruising speed greater than 520 mph – 50 mph faster than its nearest competitor – the Premier IA is the only light jet in the world that satisfies Bowyer’s need for speed."

Somebody, tell me, please: What are these people thinking?


* PRNewser posted this in a year-end listing of hopes for 2009. I AGREE:


"Public relations professionals will rediscover (or remember) that PR is about people, not just technology. No matter the latest bells and whistles that emerge from social media -- the essence of communication and building relationships remains."

* Per my last posting, I was glad to see at least a couple of 2008 media year-in-reviews call NBC on the carpet for pandering to GE's business interests in "reporting" on the Summer Olympics. In-love-with-celebrity Matt Lauer deserved the blast he got on Fox News Watch for his disgraceful Today show segment, citing a poll that claimed a far greater percentage of the Chinese people are happier than Americans. A survey of McDonald's owners about the popularity of hamburgers would have more credibility.

Still, newspaper publishers and editors who wonder why their business is in such distress need look no further than this, taken from a 2008 wrap-up of cultural happenings:

"We will never again be able to watch a mere Super Bowl halftime, shamed by the extravagance and precision of the four-hour-long opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics. The show . . . wasn't just over-the-top, it was a message from an arriving superpower to a receding one."

No mention, of course, that a pretty young girl was ordered to mouth the words sung by a less attractive child. I thought the politically correct crowd was against that sort of thing. Or of the robotic joyless children who were used -- and that's the right word, used -- as ceremony props.

Just what proud Americans want to read: Their country is "receding." I wonder what it will take for the media elites to grasp that China represents the most serious long-term threat to the national security and sovereignty of the United States.

* Coming off my last blog, about reporting standards, I was saddened by AutoWeek's "Where Are They Now?" article. A good idea, except for this, about deposed CART President Andrew Craig:

"In retrospect, the personable Brit might be considered the most effective executive CART ever had. We can only speculate about the direction open-wheel racing might have taken had he remained at the helm."


FACT: Timing and circumstances gifted Craig with the most powerful unifying weapon any leader could ever have -- a common enemy (in his case, Tony George). FACT: Warnings from the engine manufacturers and (others) about diminishing ROI based on increased cost and less audience went nowhere. FACT: Craig's contempt for those who had worked hard for CART to even exist. I was standing there, on the grid in Phoenix, when he was introduced to a former staffer. "Oh, you're one of those . . ." FACT: I will never forget a 1998 Houston Grand Prix conversation with a CART front-office person whose commitment, dedication and loyalty to the organization cannot be doubted: "(John) Frasco doesn't look too bad now . . ."

* Then, of course, there was the even-more-disgraceful pre-Christmas incident where Detroit News columnist Rob Parker crossed-the-line with Lions' Coach Rod Marinelli. Parker used a post-game news conference as his personal ego forum, asking Marinelli if he wished his daughter had married a better defensive coordinator.

This, I remind you, is the same Parker who used racial considerations as the basis for an anti-Detroit Grand Prix column some years ago. There were many things to criticize about the Belle Isle event, but that kind of "race" wasn't one of them. I said then, and repeat now, that column should have been spiked.

* So, NBC Sports is using Matt Millen as an NFL playoffs' analyst. The genius behind the Detroit Lions' 0-16 season, just what credibility does Millen bring to the job? Why would network execs think fans would care what he has to say about anything football-related? Oh, as I understand it, the powers-that-be say Millen is good on TV. Just brilliant . . .

* Finally: The Brickyard Crossing (IMS Motel) closed. More cheating went on in those rooms than in any NASCAR garage area.

[ more next Tuesday . . . ]