Where is the line?

Ambiguous title I know, and really this should have been posted last week.
And it was.
Only I saved it as a draft instead of going live, so for that I apologize.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me personally, and my brain is foggy.
At any rate, as I am wont to do from time to time, I have offered up my pulpit to a fellow Indy Car follower, to allow him to express himself without the limitations of 140 characters. (cause face it, NO one likes their stream filled with one person’s essay in 37 consecutive 140 tweets!)

Perhaps it’s timely that I make this “live” today, as once again, our little community is about to explode with “opinionation” about today’s proceedings regarding the now infamous ending of the New Hampshire race. I really haven’t had time to formulate a succinct opinion on that, but I will say that Will Power’s two finger salute brought me such joy for a few very dark days.

Anyhow, without further ado, I turn over my little portion of the sandbox to my friend Tony! (you may know him as @kraeger)
Oh, and Tony, if you go off and get a job at a racing publication a week after this, like my last guest blogger @tonydizinno, I will have to stab myself. #justsayin… (hmm… I just realized you’re both named Tony… Perhaps @tonykanaan will be next? LOL… but I digress…)
Tony… the floor is yours:

**********************

First off, let me say I don’t have a big in-depth media or journalism background. I worked for a high school paper, and did some radio work during college. What’s expressed below is just the opinion of a media consumer, and Indycar fan. It’s just one opinion among many, as well, though I like to think I’m not totally alone in this.

My thoughts are this – what should the role be of “The Media” in terms of how it reports on Indycar (or any sport) and how should that differ from the role of a Blogger in terms of stories / reporting. The obvious, quick answer is “The Media should report facts, bloggers can report opinions”, which is a good quick summary that I tend to agree with. It’s actually the basis for this rant, and one I hope most people would on the surface agree with. However, I don’t think it’s enough.

First, the Media. If you’re going to stand up and try to be a member of “Mainstream Media”… wait, no, let me define “Mainstream Media” first. If you have a circulated newspaper and are listed as a news reporter, are part of a television production as a news/sports reporter, or an on-air radio segment billed as reporting news, I consider you part of “Mainstream Media”. You can have an outlet or show in any of those as an opnion columnist or talk show host, and fall outside of the “Mainstream Media” definition I’m using here. Ok, that’s out of the way. So if you’re going to stand up and try to be a member of the “Mainstream Media” reporting on Indycar news your job should be to report the facts, the box score, and the stories of the races & series. Please, by all means, make it entertaining. If there’s controversy, explore it. But PLEASE drop opinion at the door. Stop straddling the line and trying to present yourself as covering stories objectively, while at the same time (perhaps in other outlets or articles) dishing out heated opinion.

Second, if you’re a Blogger covering the Indycar series, please, recognize your platform as a blogger as a responsibility. I understand the point of a blog is to express your own thoughts and opinions on the series as you see fit, but let’s try to be constructive in the manner in which we go about it. There’s an air of general disenfranchisement with the series right now that I see permeating a lot of Blogs, and while the ultimate source of it is obviously the way the series has been making some of its decisions lately, I truly think a lot of it is being fed by the attitude of the Blogging community itself. What could be healthy feedback for the series is instead just feeding negativity back into the hardcore fan base.

Some examples – in more than one blog you could find complaints with the Toronto event for too many crashes, and not enough calls. Complaints in the same blog for too many calls for penalties at Edmonton. Complaints again in the same Blog about the boring racing at Mid-Ohio. Each race is framed on many Indycar blogs by the negative aspects of the events. Is each of the above valid? To some degree, yes (Though if you complained about all 3, as more than one blog did, then I’d contend no road race could ever make you happy, so just say that and stop finding justifications to complain about each event). But each point could be brought up in a way to offer constructive insight instead of the negativity and hatred towards the series officiating that they have.

So what, some Bloggers are probably thinking. It’s my platform to use to share my opinion, and that’s what I’ve done! And that’s true. It’s your right, I agree. However I think any Indycar blogger originally started their Blogs on the series out of love for the sport. But somewhere along the way that focus for many has shifted from an outlet for thoughts & opinion to an outlet for pure criticism. And it’s creating a pool of negativity that’s feeding itself at this point. I think the hardcore fan audience that comprises the main readership of these blogs is feeding into it as well, and it’s just amplifying frustrations. (I would extend all of this to your twitter accounts as well, if you post to twitter under your Blog’s name, and not a separate “personal” identity – your comments there should be interchangeable with those on your site)

In addition, any new series fans, when looking for more info on the series quickly find that the Indycar Blogging community apparently thinks the sport they follow, for a better word, sucks. It’s going to make it hard to grow the fan base, no? The series itself is certainly not getting anything constructive back from most blogs at this point – how could they with everything framed in such negativity?

Am I calling for all roses and rainbows? No! I agree, the ending to the NHMS was beyond frustrating. But do I think it’s a) The mainstream news media’s responsibility to report on it objectively (ie, stop saying X person needs fired, they should have done Y… that’s called opinion, not news) and b) The Blogging communities responsibility to frame their criticism constructively, so it’s apparent to readers they’re vocalizing their frustration with the sport they love, not just vocalizing hate.

I think that’s the end of my rant, hope it was worth the read.

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9 responses to “Where is the line?

  1. Well said. Criticism is fine, even harsh words, as long as it is constructive criticism. Bleating for the sake of it does nobody any good.
    I’ve seen bloggers who schedule a weekly rant on the same topics, over and over again. Maybe they find it cathartic which is fair enough I suppose.
    I’m less sure I agree with the news/opinion part. Of course I agree about separating opinion from a news piece, and they shouldn’t be going off on one the way Robin Miller does. But it is possible to do it a little more tactfully, the way Marshall Pruett does.

  2. What’s with all this negativity toward bloggers and media?!

    I’m going right now to complain on my blog about those who judge another’s blog. I’m sending a note to Robin Miller too. I will be taking a negative tone… *FIRE @kraegar!

    (* the above is an exercise in ironic satire, **not often found in Indycar blogs)

    (** sarcasm is the vehicle here now in reference to Indycar blogs)

    PS For the record, I would consider @kraegar among the closest of my Indycar friends so my humor is meant as a friendly poke, while agreeing with the tone of his above post (someone had to disagree with him, right?)

    He’s clean, tall, and generally a very polite and good dude who can tailgate grill with the best of them, so follow him on Twitter.

  3. Is it the bloggers making it a “negative environment”? Or is it the constant complaints from many participants? That post race press conference sounded less like the P2 & P3 finishers, more like angry spoiled children on a mic. Protests over the finishing order seems negative, none of which a blogger was behind. Just an observation.

    When I am at the track I go all “Joe Friday” with just the facts. When not at the track I reflect on the sport and its news.

  4. Don’t worry Meesh. No threat of him ever getting a job in journalism. Soporific at best.

  5. Spike, you make a good point. My frustrations find their root in the bloggers who’ve recently begun making statements such as “Why would anyone continue to watch this?” or things along a similar vein; shutting off broadcasts before the race end, etc (and proclaiming it on Twitter or in their Blog). Criticism is one thing, but when it’s borderline hatred… well, I just hope that maybe my thoughts might push at least one of them to reconsider why they started blogging in the first place.

    To ‘I luv chicken’ – yeah, I’m at IT guy. We’re known for being boring. It’s what I’m good at. Though I’ve had more than one Indycar blogger respond personally to this, so apparently the message is hitting some of the audience I hoped it would.

    Thanks Meesh!

    • Because there’s so much to be positive about, like delayed aero kits, China in 2012, and a whole list of things. If you have a more optimistic view that’s great and I love to hear it but don’t tell the rest of us what to write.

      • I don’t mean to tell you what to write. I’m just saying that there’s a way to write that can be beneficial to Indycar while still expressing your frustrations, and there’s a way to write that only serves to tear the sport down. You seem to prefer the latter.
        It just makes no sense to me, and seems counterproductive.

  6. Pingback: Commentary On Indycar in China, Aerokits, Vegas And Simona « Triple League Racing

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