Jamie Berk wrote an article yesterday that spoke about the state of journalism in racing. In it, Jeremy Plonk said:
  • "If you're writing about horse racing and you stick your neck out and make a statement about somebody or about a bad topic that kind of sheds bad light on the game, it can hurt your business," he said. "There aren’t very many mainstream outlets for horse racing coverage, so that's why a lot of that stuff doesn't get written about."
I think most would agree that's true. People are very close-knit in this niche sport, writers included. Many don't rock the boat on virtually any issue.

Why that happens I don't know, and I'll leave it to smart people to discuss and debate.

But one thing we do notice is that the way we express ourselves (and get our information) has completely changed, and I think it's pretty fascinating.

I was trying to think of an idea for my yearly Christmas post here on the blog and I looked back at 2009. There I wrote a post about a fake Christmas party with everyone from the blogosphere. These folks were the people who expressed themselves freely, without an editor; many of whom had a pretty good understanding of many facets of the sport.

What would generally happen (way back then) is a story would get written by the "turf press" and it would be discussed in a blogpost - one that took a little bit of time to write and think about. Later, others would come and discuss it with him or her. Someone might write a blog post of his or her own to counter, or agree. If you pieced it all together it was like reading one large essay, with points and counter-points. It was not difficult to make a decision regarding what side of the fence you were on after that kind of discussion. It's the way the world worked.

Now it's much different. The blogs have dried up and it's much easier to express oneself in 140 characters or less, or on Facebook, in a similar amount of characters. In fact, that's evidenced in Mr. Berk's piece. The "tweet" in question from John Asher, was in jest. They seemed to work that out later, where else, on twitter.

Although it is wonderful to broaden the opinion and expression tent through the medium, I suspect this shift - for discussion purposes - is not a great thing.  In 140 characters there is rarely a meeting of the minds, it's disjointed, sometimes over the top, and not a whole lot seems to get decided. In a way, it might be a metaphor for racing as a whole.

From reading and processing thoughtful turf writing then waiting to write a letter to an editor, to the interaction of the blogs, to arguing with one liners. We probably need a Ritalin.


Anonymous said...

I found the industry punditry/blogosphere reaction to the NYT series fascinating.
"He's using Quartehorses and trying to make US look bad!!"
"It's not 5.16 deaths per thousand starts, it's 3.87!!"
And best of all,
"The NYT and Drape are ASSHATS!!"

Christine said...

An interesting post! Insightful - technology really can change the way we perceive things and represent ourselves, but for the better?

Sal Carcia said...

Every comment on Twitter appears to have a context that I have somehow missed. It's seems to be a haven of inside jokes between the participants. I am not saying that is what it is; I am saying that's what it appears to be. I really hope it is not shaping anyone's opinion about the game.

Indulto said...

Love the "party" and your "cub reporter" interviews, especially the new NYRA meeting. You come up with some really funny stuff!


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