I’ve seen a few things around the web this week that have got me thinking, enough to actually write down my thoughts, which as a broadcast journalist is a complete anathema to me!
The subject is:- Whether in the tight knit world of RC, is there any room for comment and opinion?
I have worked in the full-sized Motorsport media world for the last 18 years, serving my apprenticeship in the Formula 1 pit lane before graduating toOn the Grid with 3 x Le Mans Champion Allan McNish and the Audi crew
Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship. Working as I do in TV and Radio we are constantly putting forward our opinions, comments and theory’s about drivers, teams, organisers – you name it. Obviously we steer clear of actionable statements but if we think a driver or team has made a mistake we call it, and usually in pretty straight up terms.
That sort of critique is entirely missing from the RC world. If you were to believe the websites and magazines, no one makes a bad product, no driver is unsporting, no-one ever cheats the rules (well not now though stories of “what used to happen” are allowed!) and I got to wondering why this situation exists.
The main reason seems to be the massive interdependence between the RC media and the RC Industry, all the sites and magazines depend upon the advertising from the very companies they might one day need to question or criticise. This results in the bland printing of press releases exactly as they were sent through by the companies, with no question or comment, or attempt to make them relevant.
Ask yourself when was the last time you saw anything negative written about a company, team or driver? Do you really think that everything is that perfect within our sport?interviewing 6 x NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson
Does this actually serve the industry? Acceptance without question, and a permanent positive spin is more what we used to see in Cold War Russia than the modern day world; and those acquiescing to the state of affairs tended to just lack the balls to speak out, then in fear of being locked up, in RC perhaps the fear of a difficult conversation with a sponsor!
However the fact is, just as then, that the people – you our readers, know that everything isn’t always rosy, and we as the RC media need to serve you as well as our own self interests, and we also, in my opinion have a duty to entertain!
I also think that this unquestioning stance is extremely disingenuous to the industry itself! Full sized Motorsport and motor manufacturers can withstand criticism, in fact they usually take it on board and more importantly use it as a spur to improve their performance or products.
On this site we do try to be slightly different not only do we like to present the news with a sense of fun, have an opinion, even speculate(!), but we also have published a couple of pieces questioning the status quo, the actual health of companies and the decisions of drivers – we have always done so with a full right of reply for these we have questioned, and this has been taken up on more than one occasion. The reason being is that I personally see RC as “scale Motorsport” and as such the media should look to actually try to present an actual opinion rather than the incredibly bland items we see published else where masquerading as an opinion.
Perhaps this is a risky strategy? Maybe we are shooting ourselves in the foot with certain organisations, but we have never published anything malicious and never would, and at least you know we actually believe in ourselves and what we are saying, and, actually have something to say!Chatting to 1/10 ISTC World Champion Jilles Groskamp
I would suggest that your definition of “motorsport,” is a bit overstated. Besides the obvious (no one is in the car risking their life), other than to a few participants, RC is a hobby. It is fun. It is a form of recreation.
Yes… there are manufacturer’s, sponsored drivers and those deriving a livelihood from the hobby… but for the most part, participants are there for recreation.
That said, I can tell you from experience… they don’t want their recreation, leisure time and hobby to be mired in politics, mud slinging or name calling. They want to race their cars and have fun with others.
Sure… they want a level playing field. And of course, they want to buy products that perform “as advertised.” But I really think it stops there.
If there was ever a repeated and reoccurring problem within the sport, it is the constant bickering and backstabbing among manufacturers. They continually worry about their piece of the pie as opposed to seeing the beneifts of working together to GROW the pie.
One day… someone might a.) have the backbone to stand up to manufacturer meddling and b.) form a genuine member based organization that establishes rules and procedures and INVITES manufacturers to participate in competitions responsibliy and fairly.
Until that day, RC will serve as a poster child for the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
fair call Nick, always thought your comments where independent to the sheep like mentality that exists in
RC media…I read mainstream motorsport publications
that have no allegiance to racing teams unlike the paid advertisers in RC media (particularly magazines) which tend to be one long advert!
Good point, Nick. I think you are confusing the mainstream media that cover sport with the specialist media that covers sport.
Mainstream media (national TV, press, etc.) aren’t interested in the mechanics of the sport they cover – equipment, ‘set up’, tactics, etc.) they are interested in the personalities. When they criticise, they criticise people (Hamilton, Button, Rooney, McIlroy, etc.) not their equipment (Merc, Mac, Man U, referees, etc.) and not the manufacturers.
Yes, the specialist press criticise the manufacturers and the equipment, but they focus less on the people as personalities, and more about their sporting skill… or lack of it!
In general the press that the majority of people read does not criticise the companies, teams or people for their skills and equipment except as it affects the sensationalism of an individual incident. If you read the papers and watch the mainTV news broadcasts about sport, it is individual incidents or top-level race results that feature.
It’s a bit like saying that RC has a National TV and newsprint presence that features the results of Nationals where Olly Jefferies wins, and the latest picture of Alice Jefferies out with the baby, and then there is RC RacingTV who are the SkySports F1 of RC.
We don’t have that two-tier coverage, we only have the technical covered by technical people. In that respect it is no surprise that there is little negative comment. Most RC coverage is done by volunteers who don’t have media training, so the fact that press releases are taken as written is hardly surprising.
If our only media coverage is specialist and is too deferential, then I don’t see how you are any different. Looking thourgh archive on here I can’t find anything that says car A is rubbish, or engine B is simply not powerful enough, or track C is the worst possible for overtaking, or…
You might call some things as they are, but being deferential in RC media is just how it works… for you too?