Monday, April 27, 2009


If the Internet is the Wild West of the information age, then social networks are No-Man's Land.

While many describe these sites as popular, I call them out-of-control.

For those unaware, people go on Twitter and some of these other cybersoapboxes claiming to be people they are not. It might be the ultimate form of disinformation. I think it's just another sign that we are a celebrity-driven society, and somehow, dopey nobodies think they can hang it all out on YouTube and MySpace, etc., to get their 15 minutes of fame. Except, now, in our short attention span nation, it's more like 15 seconds. Which, sadly, only means more people do it more often.

Technology makes such "fame" possible.

I refuse to participate. And, during his media avail the other week at Phoenix International Raceway, I was glad to learn Dale Earnhardt Jr. is saying no, too.

"I don't have a MySpace, a Twitter, or none of that crap," Earnhardt said. "There's a bunch of imposters out there that you have to beware of. I really would never get into social networking -- it's just a dangerous area to be involved in, especially if you're high profile . . . "

Good move, Junior. I'm hoping at least some of this techno-nonsense will turn out to be a fad.
It's not exactly Top Secret that NASCAR's TV ratings are down like a flat Goodyear. Which only helps spotlight something I noticed at Phoenix. (Where anyone could have guessed the Fox numbers would be bad because -- let's just be honest about it -- the actual racing was not good showbiz.)

Among all the on-site "partner" microphone holders, I noticed only Dick Berggren came into the deadline media room to talk with the other journalists in a meaningful way. Now, it's no surprise to me Dick would understand to do this. One might think, however, that those other gentlemen and ladies might recognize (or be told) that a few minutes spent in relationship building and goodwill generating on behalf of their programs and networks might be a very smart investment of time. Especially now.

It sure would beat sitting around too long in what often are self-important production meetings, where various producers and announcers try to impress each other with their brilliant ideas and vast knowledge. Or, as I've personally observed numerous times over the years, try to one-up each other with talk of their new toys, vacation plans, and other ego-driven chatter.

I would say some personal media center contact would be more productive than the amateur-hour communications I've received in recent weeks from marketing agencies representing Fox and Versus.

Along these lines, YES, I noticed at PIR a little improvement as far as team/sponsor PR reps interacting with the media. But, still, way, way, WAY too many can't be bothered. And this includes those supposedly charged with generating publicity for some of the BIGGEST corporate players.
FAST LINES: The Talladega TV ratings will tell us a lot about the direction of the rest of the year. Talladega was Talladega: Multiple multi-car wrecks, Dale Earnhardt Jr. at-or-near the front, and a dark-horse winner. If that didn't uptick the numbers, and give a boost to Richmond, it's going to be a bad season for NASCAR's TV partners . . . Fox management should give Chris Myers a wrist-slap for his pre-race "drag race" remark . . . More than once Sunday, Darrell Waltrip seemed to confuse Regan (Smith) and (David) Ragan . . . It was left to Larry McReynolds, as a secondary thought, to tell us who actually WON as Mike Joy gave an inaccurate first report on debris in the grandstands after the Carl Edwards crash . . . Attention Wind Tunnel producers: An accident that leaves fans injured is NOT APPROPRIATE content for "Eye Candy" . . . As best I can tell, here's what was left out of the Talladega coverage: It was the first Cup win for a single-car team since Ricky Craven won Darlington in 2003 for Cal Wells . . . Dick Mittman reveals in the new Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Newsletter (I have membership card No. 1,000) that Pete Rose's brother, David, is a chef in the Brickyard Crossing restaurant. I covered part of Pete's historic 44-game hitting streak in 1978 while at the Philadelphia Daily News . . . Here's an honest question: If the Versus TV deal is so great, why is the roster of commercial spots dominated by a "male enhancement" product, while McDonald's and Target don't make a buy? What say you, Tony George and Terry Angstadt?

[ more next Tuesday . . . ]