• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

CASE CLOSED on SOCIAL MEDIA as JOURNALISM

The place and purpose of social media as a way to get out information came into question again recently with news -- published the old-fashioned way -- of "secret" fines to Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman for being too-critical of NASCAR. Hamlin then admitted that caused him to re-think the true need for his Twitter habit.

I say, good for Hamlin. I do indeed understand how serious fans enjoy the increased interaction with their sports (or entertainment or political) favorites. But to what purpose? Twitter-just-for-the-sake-of-Twitter reminds me of people who do things like crowd outside the hospital where Michael Jackson died, just to make a scene for the media, hope to get on TV, and somehow make themselves a part of the story.

Last Feb. 28, I wrote here about my experience covering the sad, spot-news story of the spectator fatality at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. I won't recount all of that here -- feel free to go to the blog archives to read it. But my point was to refute the bit of criticism I got from some "modern" journos that I should have been on Twitter, tapping-out a few characters of info at a time, that whole afternoon. My point was, I was busy REPORTING, INTERVIEWING, WRITING, UPDATING, RE-WRITING, and thus didn't have time for Twitter.

I wonder when, or IF, people will grasp the fact that Twitter isn't true journalism -- by its classic nature -- something more thoughtful and considered, tested and questioned and challenged by editors and fact checkers independent from the writer. I've been sounding this alarm since early days of this communications revolution.

Now, I offer yet more proof.

On Aug. 3, on a Phoenix sports-talk radio station, the following was said -- and I quote exactly:

"On Twitter, it's pretty much better to be first, but wrong, than second, but right."

If I knew the name of the person who said that, believe me, I would expose him. But circumstances were such I couldn't ID him.

Regardless, as it pertains to the lie of Twitter-as-journalism, I say -- CASE CLOSED.


FAST LINES: I don't mind admitting it when it's true -- I was wrong. I was one of those who thought (and wrote) that taking NASCAR to the California media market immediately after the Daytona 500 was a winning idea. As we now know, it didn't work. In 2011, Phoenix will get what should be that juicy opportunity . . . The way NASCAR's ISC-SMI schedule realignment played out was interesting -- a drip-drip-drip approach to letting out the changes one-by-one, designed to maximize individual market media coverage with NASCAR to follow with its spin in the full schedule announcement . . . Why would NASCAR -- and the team owners -- want to have their hauler drivers portrayed as engaging in illegal street racing on an ESPN promotional spot? I sure as hell wouldn't have allowed it . . . Michigan wasn't the best for ESPN analysts Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Jarrett called Greg Biffle the favorite to win in the closing laps, based on fresher tires, but Biffle finished fourth. Petree said Kevin Harvick made a mistake by not pitting on a late yellow. Harvick won. Meanwhile, Brad Daugherty kept his streak going -- I'm still waiting for him to say something insightful. And that's the accurate word, insightful . . . How many times do the TV heads get to talk about "Markus" Ambrose and Rick "Hendricks" before the responsible producers notice -- and demand better? . . . Sunday revealed a new career opportunity for Brian Barnhart: PGA Championship rules official following the leader at the 72d hole . . . There are several lessons to learn from the sale of Newsweek -- reportedly, for $1 (plus assumption of debt). Big huge take-away for me: How editor Jon Meacham used his position atop the 77-year-old magazine to get himself booked as a regular on the liberal talk-show circuit and to hype sales of his own books and pump-up his own sense of celebrity. Meacham should have laser-focused on his job instead of his ego . . . At a time when there's rightful concern about the lack of effective sponsor activation, give credit to Burger King and its current campaign, featuring Tony Stewart as a store worker. I've noticed the spots running on plenty of non-NASCAR telecasts -- a great thing . . . The tough question that should have been asked the other week: How does Pocono International Raceway justify the big investment on a solar farm when safety standards at the oval should have been the top concern? All of that ancient (could be 30-40 years old) infield guard rail should have been torn-up after the 2002 Steve Park-Dale Earnhardt Jr. crash. (See for yourself on YouTube.) Just how did Pocono get NASCAR to allow it to stay in place for another EIGHT YEARS?! When stupid Pocono victory lane towels are a priority for the track over obvious safety improvements, well, that tells the story . . . With too-high-a-percentage of international drivers being an on-going concern to Indy Car fans, Versus rubbed salt in the wound by having Lindy Thackston talk over the National Anthem before Mid-Ohio . . . Out of touch with their audiences who are working harder than ever in a bad economy: Michelle Obama and the PTI co-hosts, the summer's league-leaders in vacation days . . . This is what really matters about whatever was or wasn't said at the PGA Championship between Corey Pavin and Golf Channel contributor Jim Gray -- yet again caught in controversy: Gray telling Pavin, "You're going down." That sort of threat is inappropriate by any journalist in any coverage setting. The Golf Channel should discipline Gray. I'll say to Golf Channel what I've said to Speed: Join ESPN and hire an independent Ombudsman. Your audience deserves it, not the typical knee-jerk "We stand by the story" statement . . . Just unveiled, and shown here, the logo for next May's 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 . . . Good luck to two friends: New Daytona International Speedway (and former IMS) President Joie Chitwood and former DIS prez Robin Braig . . . Here in Arizona, the primary election is Aug. 24. I'll say this: If John McCain had run as hard and as biting a campaign against Barack Obama as he has vs. Republican opponent J.D. Hayworth (whose character he has been attacking all year), he might well be president today.


Well, yeah, you know, Danica said her goal was a top 15-20 at Michigan, but, you know, she was already, yeah, you know, three laps down after, like, you know, only 42 laps Saturday and, you know, finished 27th but, you know, that's not going to give ESPN, ESPN.com, AP, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and the rest of the, you know, celebrity-over-substance crazed media like, you know, any reason to stop and reflect on, you know, their credibility in again juicing up the hype before, yeah, you know, her next Nationwide race.


Here are links to some of my recent articles:

August "Drags, Dollars & Sense" column on CompetitionPlus.com -- Controversy isn't always the best way to sell:
http://www.competitionplus.com/index.php/drag-racing/editorials/15084-drags-dollars-a-sense-sometimes-controversy-isnt-the-best-sell

Phoenix International Raceway to host first Sprint Cup race after Daytona 500, Arizona Republic:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/08/09/20100809nascar-pir-subway-fresh-fit-500-date-change.html

NASCAR 2011 schedule changes could have big impact on NHRA, CompetitionPlus.com:
http://www.competitionplus.com/index.php/drag-racing/news/15136-2011-nascar-change-could-affect-nhra

Arizona Republic notebook (November schedule shift and potential repaving at PIR, etc.):
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/08/12/20100812pir-nascar-championships.html

[ more next Monday . . . ]