News Update :

Sign of the Times--Nascar and the Web

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A lot of social media developments passed by while I took August off. A few of them were worth saving and revisiting. One was the announcement in July that Nascar had picked 20 websites and blogs to credential for press coverage.

According to Ad Age (subscription required), “The attrition of both space and writers at newspapers around the country has meant a growing number of empty seats at Nascar media centers and press boxes, and less mainstream media coverage for the sport.” Add to that a weak economy and high ticket prices, and Nascar racing, along with other sports, has suffered. As far as I can tell, Nascar still has the highest “attendance” figures for any sport in the US, so it’s an important bellweather. Their website makes it clear that this Turner Interactive site understands the power of the web, engagement, and interactivity.
In this media environment Nascar executives were smart to rethink their historical distrust of non-traditional media. The Sports PR blog has a nice commentary on their process and motivations. The 20 sites selected are listed in Nascar’s press release.

Most are websites; a few are blogs. I look at a few of each, randomly selected. My eyes glazed over pretty quickly because I’m not a professional sports fan, especially Nascar. But it’s clear to even a non-fan like me that these are serious sites or blogs, with multiple contributors and in-depth coverage. They are definitely not just a guy with a blog and an attitude.

The Ad Age Article points out that both the NBA and MLB have credentialed writers for both major websites and sports blogs. NBC just purchased Local teams appear to credential web writers based on their own criteria. Ad Age says, “The Baseball Writers Association of America, which has lamented its dwindling ranks because of newspaper layoffs and cutbacks on space, voted in December 2007 to open its membership to web-based baseball writers.” That’s definitely a sign of the times!

The decline of print media, especially newspapers, continues unchecked, although multiple sources, including Pew, find use of online news sites continuing to grow. As far as I’m concerned, there’s still reason to view unedited news with care. Some news sites have editorial scrutiny; most do not. Does that mean their information is invalid? Does it imply that they cannot—and will not—increase in professionalism as they continue to gain prominence?

My personal answer is “No” to both. Online, including video, clearly seems to be the future of news. That’s a revenue issue for content marketers and an advertising and promotional one for the rest of us.

Ignore at your peril!
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