• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

TIME TO WORK, NOT TWITTER AROUND

REMINDER: Jeff Gordon will be on Wednesday's (7 p.m. ET) The Race Reporters on PowerUpChannel.com. For the first time, we'll have two Newsmaker guests. Terry Angstadt, president of the IRL's commercial division, also will be on. Media panelists will be Gordon Kirby and John Oreovicz.



Any legitimate journalist will agree: There's nothing quite like reporting a big, breaking news story.

Unfortunately, I found myself in that situation Feb. 21, covering the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway for the Arizona Republic. You know what happened: A spectator was killed when hit by a tire from Antron Brown's car.

I witnessed Brown's accident from the media center. After watching two TV replays, I bolted for Brown's pit area, where I waited with ESPN2's Dave Rieff. I spent the rest of the day in the pits and on the phone, working the story. If you wish, use the link provided in last week's blog to read my story.

In the aftermath, I've been brain-twisted by the people who have told me I should have been on Twitter, tapping out constant updates. Let me be clear: I do not do Twitter. One reason is personal privacy. Another is I don't presume wide-ranging interest in what I just bought at the supermarket and other such nonsense that are a daily part of Twitter life.

My bigger point, here, however, is the seriousness-of-purpose reporting a major story like this requires -- at least in my experience.

I was in Brown's pits for quite a while. I looked at the track. I sought reaction from others in the pits. I talked twice to Brandon Bernstein. I worked the phone for sources. I was in regular phone and E-mail communication with our Republic coordinating editor and with the news desk, helping a reporter there. I tried to assist some media colleagues around the country who were calling/Eing in search of information. Mark Armijo sent in a quick graph for AzCentral.com and I wrote the first of a few versions of a more detailed story to go up on the website ASAP. I re-wrote and updated the story a few times. Finally, I had to pay some attention to the actual racing, for a separate notebook.

I'll let others decide for themselves, but I'll tell you this: I did not have time to Twitter. Reporting and writing a serious story like this one requires full concentration and attention to detail and awareness of new developments. For me, it gets to a point where the priority is to sit down, organize your material, and write the facts -- not rumor -- with detail and context. That does not allow time for Twitter. At least, not for me, considering how I believe the most important job needs to be done.


Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. ET, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

March 10 -- Newsmaker: John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet). Panelists: Steve Byrnes, Mike Kerchner.

March 17 -- Newsmaker: Ashley Force Hood. Panelists: Holly Cain, Corinne Economaki.

March 24 -- Newsmaker: Bryan Sperber (president, Phoenix International Raceway). Panelists: Mark Armijo, Bob Pockrass.

March 31 -- Newsmaker: David Reutimann. Panelists: Dustin Long, Ron Lemasters Jr.

[ news notes Thursday . . . ]

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

BRAD HAS ROGER WEARING BLUE JEANS!

Roger Penske's new NASCAR driver, Brad Keselowski, was the Newsmaker guest on my Wednesday night The Race Reporters. Mark Armijo and Jim Pedley joined me for a news-intensive journalists' roundtable.

Keselowski has Penske wearing blue jeans! No kidding!


Use this link to listen to the show:
http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=44177



Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. ET, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

March 3 -- Newsmakers: Jeff Gordon and Terry Angstadt. Panelists: Gordon Kirby, John Oreovicz.

March 10 -- Newsmaker: John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet). Panelists: Steve Byrnes, Mike Kerchner.

March 17 -- Newsmaker: Ashley Force Hood. Panelists: Holly Cain, Corinne Economaki.

March 24 -- Newsmaker: Bryan Sperber (president, Phoenix International Raceway). Panelists: Mark Armijo, Bob Pockrass.

March 31 -- Newsmaker: David Reutimann. Panelists: Dustin Long, Ron Lemasters Jr.

[ more next Monday . . . ]

Monday, February 22, 2010

A BAD WEEKEND

As I'm writing this Monday a.m., the NHRA Arizona Nationals still aren't over. Yes, it's raining. I'll guide you to links below for details and, sadly, my breaking news coverage in the Arizona Republic of a spectator fatality Sunday.

As Brandon Bernstein said to me yesterday, no matter how many years one might have been around racing, when big accidents happen -- as with Antron Brown -- you are never truly immune to the strong emotions.

I hope they quickly and safely complete the Top Fuel and Funny Car finals -- as bizarre as this sounds, the final three Pro Stock rounds will be run in Gainesville -- and bring to a close one of the worst promoted, organized, administered and generally run "major" racing events I've experienced in many, many years. And those comments refer to operational matters having nothing to do with safety.

Monday -- Spectator killed
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/02/21/20100221nhra-firebird-raceway-fan-injured.html

and, Pro Stock rounds moved to Gainesville
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/02/21/20100221nhra-pro-stock-firebird.html

Sunday -- Tony Schumacher-Larry Dixon Q&A
http://sunday%20tony%20schumacher-larry%20dixon%20q&a/

Saturday -- news and notes
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/02/19/20100219nhra-at-firebird-international-raceway.html


FAST LINES: Finally, wretched media excess, non-Danica category: ABC, CBS and NBC interrupt regular programming for live coverage of Tiger Woods' statement. The Golf Writers' Board voted to skip the event due to restrictions, including no questions, but that might have backfired when the TV camera focused directly on Woods' went out. For the last several minutes, viewers only had a shot from behind Woods' left shoulder. Journalists were needed then to report, in-person, Tiger's expression because TV didn't show it . . . Don't ever think there isn't a difference in reporting expertise or perspective. When Lindsey Vonn won the Olympic downhill gold medal, NBC's expert analyst used slow-mo replays to show the several technical mistakes Vonn made during the run. But USA Today's reporter wrote that Vonn's run was "nearly flawless" . . . In the diplomatic equal to a racing publicist allowing his/her driver to be interviewed with a Port-a-John in the background, the Dalai Lama was photographed leaving the White House last week with several plastic trash bags lining the walkway. Nice image! . . . What's the "value" of "news?" Ponder this:
http://valleywag.gawker.com/5472169/ap-business-desks-pact-with-the-devil#update1


Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. ET, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

February 24 -- Newsmaker: Brad Keselowski. Panelists: Mark Armijo, John Sturbin.

March 3 -- Newsmakers: Jeff Gordon and Terry Angstadt. Panelists: Gordon Kirby, John Oreovicz.

March 10 -- Newsmaker: John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet). Panelists: Steve Byrnes, Mike Kerchner.

March 17 -- Newsmaker: Ashley Force Hood. Panelists: Holly Cain, Corinne Economaki.

March 24 -- Newsmaker: Bryan Sperber (president, Phoenix International Raceway). Panelists: Mark Armijo, TBA.

March 31 -- Newsmaker: David Reutimann. Panelists: Dustin Long, TBA.

[ Brad Keselowski news nugget Thursday . . . ]

Thursday, February 18, 2010

POMONA WINNER LARRY DIXON

Pomona winner and two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon was the Newsmaker guest on Wednesday's The Race Reporters on PowerUpChannel.com. Alan Reinhart, Stan Creekmore and Larry Henry joined me for journalists' chat.

I asked Larry to describe the rivalry he and his team have with Tony Schumacher and his team. Is it like the Yankees vs. the Red Sox? Or just hype?

Listen to the entire show by using this link:
http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=44194



REMINDER: Mark Armijo and I will be covering this weekend's NHRA Arizona Nationals for the Arizona Republic. I have a notebook in today's paper.

With sadness, I acknowledge Roger Jaynes' death. The former Milwaukee Journal sportswriter and Road America publicist was 63 when he died Feb. 6. Roger and I enjoyed many fun times, especially during May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and evenings at St. Elmo and in Jim Chapman's hospitality suite. Along with Cooper Rollow of the Chicago Tribune, Roger and I were part of one of the media world's best practical jokes. That was back around 1982 or '83 while in Indy. Roger was also a great pal of Bobby Unser. God bless, Roger, and these few words recognize your many contributions to motorsports and journalism.

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. ET, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

February 24 -- Newsmaker: Brad Keselowski. Panelists: Mark Armijo, John Sturbin.

March 3 -- Newsmakers: Jeff Gordon and Terry Angstadt. Panelists: Gordon Kirby, John Oreovicz.

March 10 -- Newsmaker: John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet). Panelists: Steve Byrnes, Mike Kerchner. TBA.

March 17 -- Newsmaker: Ashley Force Hood. Panelists: Corinne Economaki, TBA.

March 24 -- Newsmaker: Bryan Sperber (president, Phoenix International Raceway). Panelists: Mark Armijo, TBA.


[ more next Monday . . . ]

Sunday, February 14, 2010

IT's GETTING WORSE

It's getting worse.

In the last three months, we've witnessed Tiger plunge off the cliff of public opinion. His agents at IMG aren't spin doctors but have badly played ones on TV and in private. I went to the NASCAR awards ceremony in Las Vegas, stood back, and watched PR people talk among themselves in their insular world, not bothering to outreach and build new media relationships. Next came the GoDaddy dud of a Danica announcement, with self-described "PR specialists" Katy Kelewae and Nick Fuller not even contacting the two most prominent motorsports writers in their home state. The names changed but the dumbness was the same as the IRL introduced its new CEO in Indianapolis on the same day the home-town Colts were involved in Super Bowl Media Day. Of the numerous mistakes made by the Delta Wing group in showing-off its prospective new Indy Car -- one of which was not properly preparing what is left of the hard-core fan base for the reasons such a radical change is needed (looks to me like something Craig Breedlove would have driven at Bonneville) -- the true folly was unveiling it in Chicago during Daytona 500 week. (Hint: Have news? Go to where the media are!) NHRA opening against the Daytona 500 was no better.

This stuff is so dumb, so stupid from a PR standpoint, you could not possibly make it up.

Then, last Wednesday, along came S. Jarrod England. He works in "Partnership Management & Media Relations for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, LLC." That organization's published Mission Statement reads: "To be the most professional, and most-admired team in motorsports who consistently wins races and competes for championships in every effort we make, and who also cultivates and maintains mutually beneficial and long-term partnerships with world-class sponsors providing them with a valuable return on their investment."

In brief, weeks ago, I contacted him and confirmed Jamie McMurray as Newsmaker guest for The Race Reporters. Not to the surprise of those who know me, I followed-up numerous times, including a few hours before the scheduled live interview. In a confirming E-mail, again, just hours before the scheduled interview, he wrote to me: "Really too bad not every radio host/media member is as good as you are at helping to remind on these obligations!"

The time arrived; McMurray did not call the studio as promised. We tried McMurray's and England's cells and got voice mail for both. McMurray did finally call -- with one minute left in the 14-minute segment, as I was thanking my media panelists and setting-up the next guest and topic -- too late to even get one word.

At first, I heard nothing from his "PR" person. He, in fact, only called and E-mailed me after I shamed him into it. His instinct was not the common courtesy to apologize, but rather, to express a mindset of "these things happen." Exact quote. (Something tells me that's not what Ganassi said to Justin Wilson after the Rolex 24.)

Which, of course, only made the situation worse.

Compare that to his employer's Mission Statement. I should have known, in that I've noticed he's one of those who don't come into the media center (in my case, at PIR) to introduce himself and offer information or assistance. That's about as basic at its gets.

According to his own published public profile, this is a person of modest experience. This much, however, I've learned in four decades of professional life: Some people get it. Some never will. (If that Twitter photo is legit, well, it's hopeless.)

Congratulations to McMurray, but Sunday's result doesn't change a single above fact.

More to come, including -- in my Constitutionally-protected opinion -- a theme song for these clowns.

In the once proud and honorable PR profession, it's getting worse.


FAST LINES: One thing we learned last week was that ESPN didn't learn the credibility-bending downside of wretched excess. One might have thought a review of the network's 2005 Danica slobbering would have been in order pre-Daytona. Proving that our society now leans even more in the direction of celebrity, ESPN went even further off the deep-end in hyping Danica's NASCAR debut. A Danica "ticker?" Please. Only the Todd Harris and Jack Arute gushings were missing from five years ago . . . The diminished knowledge of major print media journalists was shown again in the Feb. 15 Sports Illustrated. In yet another puff-up-Danica story, Lars Anderson wrote that her signing with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Junior Motorsports "has allowed JR to attract two new sponsors and contend for the Nationwide title with driver Kelly Byers." First of all, Lars and editors, it's BIRES. Secondly, guess who wasn't in the Daytona Nationwide field due to lack of sponsorship -- BIRES . . . MSNBC showed a graphic listing Sarah Palin's public events into March. But they left off her visit to the Daytona 500. I don't think that was accidental . . . Hey, Harry Connick Jr. When allowed the great honor of singing the National Anthem, take off your cap!


I'll join Mark Armijo in covering this weekend's NHRA Arizona Nationals for the Arizona Republic. Watch for our stories beginning Thursday. Here's a link to my lengthy piece on John Force, which ran in last Sunday's Republic:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/02/14/20100214nhra-john-force-going-forward.html


Jeff Gordon will make his first appearance on my The Race Reporters on March 3. For the first time, we'll have two Newsmaker guests, with IRL commercial division president Terry Angstadt also on that program.


Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. ET, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

February 17 -- Newsmaker: Larry Dixon. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Stan Creekmore. Plus, Larry Henry.

February 24 -- Newsmaker: Brad Keselowski. Panelists: Mark Armijo, John Sturbin.

March 3 -- Newsmakers: Jeff Gordon and Terry Angstadt. Panelists: Gordon Kirby, John Oreovicz.

[ Larry Dixon news nugget Thursday . . . ]

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A BAD -- NO, A DUMB -- START

I do not know Randy Bernard. But I wish him well in his role as new CEO of the Indy Racing League, because the American open-wheel sport -- where I spent much of my professional life -- desperately needs him to be successful.

Fair or not, Bernard has a lot of prove, and needed to get off to a great start.

Which is why I say this of last Tuesday's introductory news conference:

I'm not sure it is humanly possible to do anything dumber.

You see, while most of the Indy media huddled in Miami, cheerleading for the home-town Colts to win the Super Bowl, Bernard's introduction took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Super Bowl week coverage is always going to dominate in any city with a team in the Big Game, but especially so in a town like Indy. Not only that, but Bernard's newser happened while the Colts were participating in that spectacle of wretched excess and nonsense otherwise known as SUPER BOWL MEDIA DAY!

They teach this in PR pre-school: If you have a major announcement, one that is supposed to be good news, a positive, something you want bold headlines for, news to energize all of your constituency groups, you schedule it for maximum exposure value.

Attention IRL: The above means NOT vs. your local team Super Bowl week and especially NOT on Super Bowl Media Day. (!)

I suspect Bernard didn't pick the day -- it wouldn't surprise me if it was done to suit the Hulman-George family's schedule (we did learn Josie George is calling the shots) -- but what was supposed to be such an important event should never have been left to what was convenient for anyone or anything other than the purpose of max media. Bernard, credited with building Pro Bull Riders into a success, should have staked-out his turf on Day One and said, "No. This is a mistake."

Let me repeat, and I said this on last week's The Race Reporters: I'm not sure it's humanly possible they could have done anything dumber.

I wonder if Izod executives -- in obvious need of a Jim Chapman -- noticed.

Sadly, for two decades, this is what we've come to expect from Indianapolis.



Who got more publicity last weekend? Danica . . . or . . . Sarah?


Here's a link to my new February "Drags, Dollars & Sense" column on CompetitionPlus.com:
http://www.competitionplus.com/index.php/drag-racing/editorials/13226-drags-dollars-and-sense-the-national-time-trials-days-have-come-and-gone


Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. ET, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)


February 10 -- Newsmaker: Jamie McMurray. Panelists: Lee Spencer, Reid Spencer. Plus, Phil Burgess.

February 17 -- Newsmaker: Larry Dixon. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Stan Creekmore. Plus, Larry Henry.

February 24 -- Newsmaker: Brad Keselowski. Panelists: Mark Armijo, John Sturbin.

March 3 -- Newsmaker: Terry Angstadt. Panelists: Gordon Kirby, John Oreovicz.

[ Jamie McMurray news nugget Thursday . . . ]

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

SAID on the SHOW

A very interesting guy, NHRA Funny Car driver Bob Tasca III, was Newsmaker of the Week on Wednesday night's The Race Reporters. Tasca won his first two Funny Car events last season and is a rock-solid Ford guy and dealer. Jim Pedley and Jeff Burk were on for the journalists' roundtable and Dave Rodman previewed NASCAR in the last segment.

Hear what Tasca said about four-wide racing at Charlotte, John Force, the Business of Racing, and much more.

Be sure to listen to the first few minutes of the journalists' roundtable.

Note who Rodman says could be a Daytona 500 pole favorite. (!)

Use this link to listen to the show:

http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=44058

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. ET, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

February 10 -- Newsmaker: Jamie McMurray. Panelists: Lee Spencer, Reid Spencer. Plus, Phil Burgess.

February 17 -- Newsmaker: Larry Dixon. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Stan Creekmore. Plus, Larry Henry.

February 24 -- Newsmaker: Brad Keselowski. Panelists: Mark Armijo, John Sturbin.

[ more Monday . . . ]