• 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 . . . ]