Saturday, July 25, 2009

NASCAR announces Citizen Journalists Media Corps, but what does it really mean for bloggers?

Last month (June 2009), NASCAR announced its intention to invite the top independent NASCAR-related Web sites to join a newly formed "NASCAR Citizen Journalists Media Corps." NASCAR is providing this group of new media access to cover the sport while maintaining their independence. (Press Release)

Last week, NASCAR announced the list of members (sites) that are in NASCAR’s Citizen Journalists Media Corp that contains 28 sites that cover NASCAR in one way or another. However a few bloggers have raised questions about the program, one, since the press release came out last week, how come there hasn’t been a lot of media on it? Two, what does this mean for those who are now members and three, if you’re a member of NASCAR’s Citizen Journalists Media Corp, what do you plan on doing with it?

(Press Release - DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR on Friday announced the members of the newly formed NASCAR Citizen Journalists Media Corps. This group of new media consists of a range of professional and amateur experience covering NASCAR. One common theme is that each site is dedicated to providing information about NASCAR to a growing readership.

"We have been overwhelmed by the positive response since our initial announcement to form the NASCAR Citizen Journalist Media Corps last month," said NASCAR managing director of corporate communications Ramsey Poston. "More voices speaking about NASCAR is good for the sport and is fan-friendly. We intend to make the most of the changing media landscape."

"The National Motorsports Press Association comprises journalists dedicated to informing the public about motorsports,'' said Dustin Long, president of the NMPA. "We welcome citizen journalists to the media center in hopes that it increases the depth of knowledge of the fan base.''

"The sport is there, the fans are there, the need for information is there," said Jim Pedley, managing editor of racintoday.com and NASCAR Citizen Journalists Media Corps member. "As more and more fans turn from newspapers to new sources for their racing information, and as more Web sites become more professional, NASCAR had to take notice and act. You've got to believe the fans will be the beneficiaries."

After a lengthy review process, which included evaluating independent Web sites on professionalism, reporting and commentary, and use of social networking tools, 28 sites were invited to be part of the new media corps.

Members of the corps will have the opportunity to apply for media credentials but like all media, will be expected to abide by the standards of professional conduct (i.e. no autographs, photos with drivers, etc.) They will also have access to other media-driven events and teleconferences and NASCAR's media-only Web site. NASCAR will provide access to the information; it's up to the journalists to tell the story.

The traditional media that cover the sport on a day-to-day basis will continue to be the cornerstone of NASCAR news and information. However, as traditional news coverage continues to decline across the board for all sports, it is important to recognize the emerging media sources that provide unique points of view to growing audiences.

The Citizen Journalists Media Corps includes:
• Autoracing1.com/nascar.asp
• Badgroove.com/
• Benchracing.onpitrow.com
• Bleacherreport.com/nascar
• Bump-drafts.com
• Catchfence.com
• Dalyplanet.blogspot.com
• Everyjoe.com/topic/auto-racing
• Thefastandthefabulous.com
• Finallapradio.com
• 4ever3blog.com
• Frontstretch.com
• Greenwhitechecker.typepad.com/greenwhitechecker
• Haddockinthepaddock.com
• Hardcoreracefans.com
• InsiderRacingNews.com
• Paddocktalk.com
Racedriven.com
• Racejournalonline.com
• Racetake.com
• Racingnewsdigest.com
• Racintoday.com
• Rowdy.com
• Rubbingsracing.com
• Speedwaymedia.com
• Thehotlap.com
• Theracinggeek.com
• TruckSeries.com

(Source: NASCAR.com and NASCARmedia.com)

As a blogger, I really didn’t know what to think of NASCAR’s newly formed NASCAR Citizen Journalists Media Corps. As the month progressed and I started to read more into it and at the same time I started thinking about just what the traditional media does week in and week out, I have begun to understand where they are going with this new program.

Over the past year, like the press release says, the landscaping has changed with a lot of the media that use to cover the sport for media outlets, newspapers and more now find themselves laid off because of either cut backs or there company has completely removed there NASCAR coverage.

At the same time, bloggers who have been around for several years, not to mention those media members who use to cover the sport via traditional media are starting to be recognized for their hard work, and yes its hard work to build a site from scratch, write articles and cover the sport without all of the media tools that available to traditional media.

So, one, since the press release came out last week, how come there hasn’t been a lot of media on it? I believe it is going to take time before the traditional media, not to mention bloggers and fans really hear and recognize Citizen Journalists, especially these sites that now find themselves on this list. Time will tell what will really come from this, however I believe starting especially next year even at the Daytona 500, media, NASCAR and maybe even fans will start to see this new crop of people applying for media credentials and attending and covering each race, but this is the difference, it will look like a different select number of people at each race.

Most bloggers don’t have the money to fly all over the United States and even into Canada to cover the sport every week, they just don’t have it, so because of that, they will mostly come out at select events. One of the bloggers on the list that lives in California I wouldn’t be surprised if they find themselves attending and covering three-six races per year in California, Las Vegas and maybe even Phoenix with media credentials and that’s what I mean, it will be a different group of bloggers just about every week.

Question two and three pretty much go hand and hand, from what does this mean for those who are now members and if you’re a member of NASCAR’s Citizen Journalists Media Corp, what do you plan on doing with it?

Personally as the owner of RaceDriven.com that is one the list above, (by the way, I received a simple email asking me if I would like to be a member,) first I have to say that I have been blogging for over four and a half years now and it’s a blast, but there is nothing like being recognized by NASCAR and its people of your hard work. I congratulate everybody that the list, most of the sites I visit regularly and do good job covering the sport with basically no media tools available to them.

Basically as a member of NASCAR’s Citizen Journalists Media Corp, according to the press release, each member "The Citizen Journalists will have the very same access as the traditional media including credentials to race events, access to media centers, press boxes, press conferences, teleconferences, news releases, video, audio, photos, stats and graphics.”

What do I plan on doing with it? I actually have a little bit of a leg up with the media tools, first, thanks to Shell-Pennzoil, Richard Childress Racing and especially Shell’s PR company Edelman PR (articles here and here), I was able to participate in Shell’s Best seat in the house program twice up at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that included media credentials -- a hot pass which gave me access to the garage area and pit road on race day before, during and after the race, a seat on top of the #29 Kevin Harvick Shell RCR pit box during the race, access to the media center and after the race, access to victory lane.

It is an experience that I will never forget, from being in the garage when the teams are making final preparations in tuning their racecars, there is nothing like hearing that V-8 engine fire up right next to you and while the car is up on jack stands, spinning the rear wheels to walking up and down pit roads watching the cars be weighted, setting up the pit boxes and the cars being placed on the grid.

As a result, I already have access to NASCARmedia.com, however what NASCAR’s Citizen Journalists Media Corp does is gives me media credentials once again, you see I need help getting them and the PR company, RCR and Shell had to get them for me, now with this program I can submit to NASCAR and to a racetrack for media credential and possibly receive them.

Basically give it time, nothing in this area is going to happen overnight, one because there is a six week to two months deadline before each race to apply for media credentials and two, NASCAR, the media, bloggers and everybody for that matter are still learning more about this program, but I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Question: First for the for the bloggers and new media on this list, what do you think and what are you going to do with it? Second, what do the traditional media think of NASCAR’s Citizen Journalists Media Corp?