• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, October 06, 2013

HOUSTON, THE MEDIA HAS A PROBLEM

The lack of fundamental reporting and interviewing skills on motorsports TV continues to cast doubt on those involved and the judgment of decision-makers. Let me cite three more examples:

1. NBCSN's Leigh Diffey talked-up all the "news" since the last IndyCar race and there was a graphic, too. But what wasn't mentioned or listed as "news" was official announcement that Izod is departing as series sponsor. No, that wasn't exactly a surprise, but surely by anyone's definition it was "news" since the last race. This leaves in-the-know viewers with the impression these presentations are dangerously close to continuing the old Versus philosophy of "hear no evil, see no evil." The mistake was compounded when Jon Beekhuis interviewed Roger Penske and didn't ask him if Izod was going to continue with his team as a sponsor. I've said before Jon is much better as a booth analyst and the Penske interview proved it again. It's all about CREDIBILITY.

2. Why wasn't THIS question asked during the Ganassi-to-Chevrolet IndyCar news conference? Will Chevy also power CGR's Grand-Am car(s)? The question should have been even more obvious since the linkage of CGR's NASCAR entries was emphasized in the announcement.

3. I guess announcers like Diffey, who say in the wake of a big accident that they won't "speculate" but then go right ahead and do just that, don't even realize the difference in doing or not doing it. And why didn't the NBCSN producer put a pit reporter and camera crew on a golf cart and down to the Dario Franchitti accident scene? The story was there, including what happened to spectators, not that James Hinchcliffe finished third.

Elsewhere from last week's news front:

* NBC Nightly News sensationalized the Franchitti accident, playing the "split from Ashley Judd" card, and the voice-over reporter saying the track had reinforced fences since Dan Wheldon's (not named) fatal crash two years ago. Of course, the Houston track didn't exist until this season, so there were not fences to be reinforced. What bothered me as much as anything about the report was it was done by a Los Angeles-based reporter, who knew nothing about the Houston race, except no doubt what he read off the Internet and wire reports. His "report" was nothing but an attempt to make the viewer think NBC was doing some actual, real REPORTING. It was not. And this is an all-too-common falsehood done across the TV networks, as budget cuts have eliminated field offices and bureaus. When the Pope visited South America some months ago, Fox News put out a report voiced by a reporter sitting in Los Angeles. Viewers, do not be fooled!

* Why hasn't this question been asked of United SportsCar officials? Instead of wasting all the time, effort and money trying to equalize the performance of Daytona Prototypes (Grand-Am) and P2 (ALMS) cars -- teams are STILL waiting for the rules (seems impossible to me) -- why didn't the series take a page from Tony George (yes, Tony George!), who bought IRL chassis for all Champ Car teams when the series combined. There are only a handful of P2 cars compared with the majority count of DPs. Seems to me it would have been easier and, in the end, cheaper to do it this way.

* In an effort to jump-start interest in Speed Weeks and, ultimately, the main event of the Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway officials start SW with a race on the infield road course. SOUND FAMILIAR?

[ more next Monday . . . ]