Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This ain't news: Standing up for what you do only counts when you actually do what you say you did

K. Lee Davis is the motorsports editor at ESPN.com. Since ESPN is owned by Disney, apparently he believes it’s OK for him to live in a fantasy world, too.

I railed about ESPN claiming on Tuesday night that it “broke” the news about Dale Earnhardt Jr. going to Hendrick Motorsports. That’s just a flat, bald-faced lie.

At 1 p.m. Wednesday, I began an e-mail exchange with Davis about my complaints. He basically told me to suck it up because I was mad that ESPN had beat me to the story.

Here’s his initial e-mail to me:

As far as who broke what yesterday. AP had nothing on the Hendrick Motorsports angle until nearly 4:30 p.m. Marty Smith’s story saying Junior was going to Hendrick Motorsports was published on ESPN.com’s front page at 2:11 p.m. At 2:20 p.m., I made the run through your paper’s web-site and the others I generally check to see who else might have the story. That’s part of my job.

Your site had zilch and every other site had zilch on the Hendrick angle. Plenty were reporting there would be a press conference (we were first on that one, too) and that Hendrick was a possibility, but none had it definitively as Hendrick, and Marty did.

So, it would seem to me, Marty broke that story. Give credit where it’s due.


He didn’t say anything about dragons and unicorns, but he might as well have.

Here’s what happened in the real world. At 1:30 p.m., The Associated Press moved Jenna Fryer’s story saying that Earnhardt Jr. had scheduled a press conference and that her sources said he was going to Hendrick. I was writing a story saying the same thing for thatsracin.com and charlotte.com.

My story was posted at 2:08 p.m.

I am NOT saying I was first. Jenna got her story out first, so if there’s credit due anywhere, it’s to her. But Marty’s story was no better than third. It was a good story and he had some details in his story that I didn’t. Jenna had stuff neither of us had, too. But all three stories were substantively the same.

I don’t think any of us “broke” anything. We all tracked down the same people and did all the reporting we could do and still get a story up with dispatch. This business of a minute here and there is how reporters get into trouble these days.

All three of us kept reporting all afternoon and evening, working to nail down more information.

That’s the job, too. For Davis to say that AP had nothing on Hendrick until 4:30 p.m. is just absurd. For him to say my site had “zilch” on the Hendrick angle is just flat wrong. He said my story wasn’t up anywhere at 2:20. That’s a lie. Flat out.

I work for Sirius Satellite Radio, too. Part of that deal is I have to post news to the web sites my paper runs before I give anything to them. I sent in my story, looked to make sure it was posted and then sent it to folks handling the Sirius shows that were on the air in the afternoon.

After that, I checked ESPN.com and the story they had posted on the Earnhardt Jr. announcement will still not yet the one written by Marty Smith.

Maybe you don’t care. That’s fine. This isn’t about me getting credit, it’s about ESPN trying to take credit when they didn’t earn it. I won’t stand for that.

30 comments:

Dan in Lebanon Indiana said...

David,

I appreciate your comments and agree with you 100%. I have not been impressed with ESPN and their NASCAR coverage. I expected a lot more out of them. They have become very arrogant and it is nice to see you stand up against them.

I may not always agree with everything you say, but I love your passion for the sport and your ethical reporting. I only wish ESPN would learn from you and listen to your good advice on reporting ethics.

Tracy said...

Git em, David!

ESPN has a snooty attitude about NASCAR these days. Watchin' Micky Mouse trying to bully YOU around is almost as goofy as watching the Busch boys try to act sincere.

Sincerely,

A-Mark-Martin-Loving-Former-Reporter-Stand-Up-Fer-What's -Right-Fan from Arkansas

coach said...

David,
I will always be grateful to ESPN for bringing NASCAR to us when the best we could do before was a few minutes here and there on network TV. However, ESPN spends more time promoting themselves now then the sports that they cover that they lost any credibility with people who appreciate real journalism. Too bad. Not everyone has access to Sirius, and print journalism on the internet to know what is really going on in NASCAR.

allbilly said...

I understand your anger, but it seems a bit silly to anyone outside the journalism world. I guess this is what racing being big news brings us. I remember when the only news we got here in Texas regarding Nascar was from our subscription to Winston Cup Scene. So as a fan, and information whore, I am happy about it all including your coverage and blog!

So, I got the feeling watching the press conference at online at work, via Speed's feed, that what Earnhardt liked the most was he was getting a father type figure that actually cares about people, AND fast racecars.

I still expect Kurt Busch to outperform Jr. if he is even in mediocre equipment. Little Busch is a smart ass and a punk at times, but he can flat git r dun in a race car. He was too UN PC for Hendrick.

I wonder what all this will look like in one year?

Anonymous said...

David,

You're one of the most respected writers in motorsports and understand how to conduct yourself.

While the Internet is a great thing, it's also led to a general shredding of media ethics, and you've got all kinds of people making executive decisions who couldn't pass a degree program or get hired 20 years ago.

ESPN has a record for being juvenile about things like this. In many ways, they replicate the worst aspects of Microsoft - once they enter a territory they bully everyone around and act like they invented everything.

I'm not sure which website I read the story at first, but anytime ESPN posts a story as breaking news, I never believe it until I can confirm it with a reliable source.

If thatsracin.com posts a story as breaking, I don't feel the need to confirm it elsewhere.

Keep up the outstanding work. Don't let the idiots wear you down.

Anonymous said...

Way to go David.

Actually we had this posted in a forum at 7:57 am.

"Inside source says that Jr.'s new ride will surprise some people and involves an existing driver having to find new employment.....
No other details were offered, but deal should be complete soon."

Just after 11:00 the news of a PC broke and at 1:22 we had your stuff from thatsracin.com posted.

Anonymous said...

get over it, and yourself. you did your job. who was first is irrellevent to the fans. you make less than 100k a year. act like it.

Bretterson said...

In response to anonymous, the issue at hand is larger than the simple "who was first" debate. David already explained that he doesn't care that he wasn't the first to break the story, nor did he claim to be.

The bigger picture here is that the facts clearly show that ESPN was not the first media outlet with this story, yet they still claim to be despite being presented with those facts. When a major news organization like ESPN thinks it's ok to lie about something as petty as this, it brings the credibility of their entire organization into question.

That's what David is getting at here, and I appreciate it. He's certainly not thumping his chest and trying to act like a big shot.

Anonymous said...

If David Poole decides to thump his chest a little, he can, because he is a big-shot in the world of racing journalism. I do not always agree with him about track issues, but I cannot deny that he is my "go to" guy for the facts.

Anonymous said...

Just a note, there are many long-time NASCAR fans that look to Thatsracing.com and sirius for their NASCAR news.

As far as ESPN goes--their race coverage sucks, their news treats NASCAR like the red-headed stepchild that JR. was at DEI, and as far as scooping the story, there is only one thing that ESPN scoops and it sure isn't NASCAR news.

I believe that ESPN's claiming of credit for breaking the news of the Hendrick contract with JR should to right up there in the world of taking undue credit with Al Gore inventing the internet.

In the words of Dennis Miller(giving credit where credit is due), That is just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Love you on the Morning Drive but Bagley is awful, find an alternate for Marty that is at least entertaining. And BTW, I am not a JR fan so the mediocre driver comment had nothing to do with my opinion of Bagley.

The Professor said...

ESPN and Marty Smith are a joke. The only thing worse than his pseudo-journalism is the network's broadcast staff.

I wish we could go back to The Nashville Network! That was good racing coverage. We didn't have a bunch of egotistical has-beens (or never was's in Wally Dallenbach's case) trying to stand between the viewer and the race.

I'd pay cash money to watch the race on Pay Per View with MRN or PRN playing in the background.

Anonymous said...

David,

To be honest with you I couldn't care less who posted the story first. I came home from work and read the article at Nascar.Com, All the other articles followed as I went from one site to another. Let's talk racing shall we? Hope you have a great week!

Monkeesfan said...

David, you're right to attack ESPN, because this is commonplace with them, they take credit for things they're not responsible for.

coach, don't be grateful to ESPN because all they did was latch onto something they knew was good. The notion that they were the only network devoting serious attention to NASCAR is wrong - CBS pioneered live telecasting while TBS and the now-defunct MIZLOU network expanded on it; TBS also pioneered motorsports news shows in the early 1980s with a show hosted by Dave Despain and Bob Varsha (darn it, I forgot the show's title). ESPN picked up other races but were notorious for paying the lowest rights fees even into 2000 (this is why they lost the bidding war for the 2001-6 package), had a bad reputation for inferior production values (I remember some of their Pocono broadcasts were produced by Ken Squier's company, World Sports Ent., because ESPN couldn't afford to use their own production company), and were always the last to incorporate good broadcasting ideas such as in-car cameras (CBS had them in 1979, ESPN didn't start using them until about 1985) and continuous full-field rundowns (Squier's company began using them on TNN and TBS boradcasts in 1995; CBS followed in 1997; ESPN stuck with top-ten-only pylons until about 1998). So shed no tears for ESPN; the problems they have now are typical of their whole history.

tracy, check what Rusty Wallace has said about ESPN's snooty attitude - they told him in production meetings that they wanted nothing that hinted at "redneck" imagery in their NASCAR coverage, and Rusty objected because that kind of attitude is dishonest.

Monkeesfan said...

the professor, I'll second bringing back The Nashville Network. They covered racing because they loved it.

Besides, I kind of miss Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase - there was a "thing" between them and it was always kind of fun jumping between Dan Patrick & Keith Olbermann and Lorianne and Charlie.

Charlie Turner said...

I am a co-host of a regional, mostly NASCAR radio talk show. We don't claim to be journalists. We do depend upon real journalists to source the facts and then we put our spin on things. David Poole has been a guest of our show and I've always trusted his work. I would never trust anything that I saw on ESPN's on-air shows unless I had other confirmation. There is too much emphasis on the show-business side of things.

Nice job on this David.

3wide said...

David
Suck it up and get a life. Who cares who broke what first? Now you are whining.

West said...

As always, well said Mr. Poole. I also agree with the other blogger who has been less than impressed with ESPN's coverage of NASCAR. But I'd like to add that we shouldn't forget that ESPN is the one network ready to celebrate Barry Bonds and his records. So the fact they have lied about breaking the E-Jr story should come as no surprise. Is ESPN owned by CBS and Rathergate?

Nascar and the Canadian Curmudgeon said...

Good Points Mr. Poole and I have to add my name to the list of people not overly impressed with ESPN.....Bogus claims and arrogance ESPN's stock and trade for the last few years carry no weight with me...

NASCAR fan near Eldora said...

Mr. Poole,
Your comments are right in line with which I've come to admire in your excellent journalism. I rely on you, Ed Hinton and reporters Dutton, Frey and Mulhern to get the best insights on racing. The only thing, in my opinion, that ESPN is good for is hosting Jayski's website! Keep up the fine writing!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Poole,
I do not Have an opinon on who was first,I do not know. I do know I get my news from your web site and Nascar.com. I have not been impressed with any of the TV broadcasts from any network since 2000. I myself had just as soon listen to the radio, simple facts and commentary. Bigger ,better , flashier is not always better. Even for Nascar.It goes back to the death of Dale Sr. A big part of this sport died with him. He knew the value of simple, no flash, no put on ,no hype . Simple balls to the wall racing and we loved it.After being a fan for 25 years, I just do not know how much more of this cloned ,thin ,watered down racing I can stand and that leaves me feeling empty inside just like most of the races I have watched this year.
Sincerly, Rick Melton

Steve H. said...

David,

I read your articles in print and online, and i also listen to you when you're on the Packman's radio show. You have always been informative, fair and accurate in everything i have ever read or heard you report, and i want to thank you for your hard work and dedication to the sport that a lot of us have loved for decades. Espn and their antics just go to prove that being the biggest doesn't always mean being the best.

And while i'm posting a message i'd like to ask if anyone has heard what Kelloggs plans are now that Kyle Busch is leaving and Dale is signed on? I've seen a lot of speculation reported about Budweiser abd their plans but next to nothing about Kelloggs.

Red Vogt said...

Mr. Poole,

You remain a credit to your craft. I was recently recounting to a friend (also a race fan) who lives elsewhere some of the little things I like about living in Charlotte. Being able to read your work in the local paper was near the top of the list.

Bill said...

I, like many others, do not trust ESPN any longer about anything. As was said, there main focus these days is promoting themselves. Their NASCAR coverage is a joke to the point that I can't watch an entire race anymore because watching closeups of roof flaps, rollbars and driver's helmet visors does not constitute race coverage for me, but instead an attempt to sell their PS3 games.
Keep up the good work, David. At least when I read your articles I know they are straight forward and honest.

BruSimm said...

After having the priviledge of chatting with David Poole, I've come away feeling he is a very real personality with a very sincere perspective on his trade.

If he says it, I will lean towards believing it.

ESPN - has been very frustrating for me to watch their Busch Series broadcasts. In the beginning of the season, the show’s opening sequence of the Busch telecast were clips of Cup series scenes. What was that about?

I have a real issue with something Brad Daugherty did during the last Talladega event. A wreck broke out and the carnage slid past the press booth and ESPN coverage showed Daugherty shaking his fist in triumphant glee while the wreck was happening. How inconsiderate of the safety of the drivers.

He also seems to echo base information.. not very insightful or insidery.

Very Personal Nit: Carl Edwards wins a race. ESPN breaks away before his backflip, and another time, the camera angle is from very far away. GIVE us a better angle for crying out loud.

I have been spoiled by Fox and others. Please put out some funds, and get some announcers who know what they're doing.

Thanks for reading, Bruce

Anonymous said...

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Anonymous said...

wow.

i'm astounded at how many people DIDN'T READ what you wrote, mr. poole...

it's not about who was first, it's about HONESTY AND INTEGRITY for pete's sake!

i agree with your assessment of espn and their desire to, well, bully and dominate everyone who's not associated with them... and i never look on their website for 'the latest' because 9 times out of 10 they're the last to get 'the latest'...

i like and respect marty smith as well and was not pleased when he jumped on the espn train(wreck)... but, such is life...

thanks for your honesty and straightforwardness... i don't always agree with your perspectives and opinions, but i always look forward to your columns...

Anonymous said...

I gotta weigh in because I talk to David every week on my rowdy.com podcast. First, David Poole is one of the most respected, if not the most respected, print reporters in the business, because he's fair and accurate--which is not to say he has never made a mistake (if he hadn't he porbably wouldn't be trying hard enough). I am quite confident that accuracy, as opposed to "getting the scoop" is most important to him--which is why he's one of the most popular guests on our show, and why his column is one of the first places you need to go.

We talk to a lot of race fans every day and we wonder aloud what might happen. When Jr. first said he was leaving DEI, a lot of the chatter was Hendrick. We said Hendrick would make the most sense from a competitive perspective--but that was just an educated guess that luckily turned out to be right--that's not reporting. If you don't care about being accurate, just predict a home run every at-bat, then when someone hits one, you can say you "called it." As many have already pointed out, the whole "who got it first" thing gets pretty silly pretty fast.

But remember, ESPN was the one making the "we got the scoop" claim, not Poolie, not Jenna Fryer, not Marty Smith. They were, indeed, just doing their job. But it's not hard for me to understand David's desire to set the record straight. Imagine meeting some arrogant dude you used to know in high-school. Imagine he goes around telling everyone how he was a big track star at the school, set the school record, etc. If you regularly beat the cat, even if you haven't thought about it in 20 years because it's so incredibly petty, wouldn't you still kinda want to call "BS" on him?

Anonymous said...

I hope the people at ESPN know how to click the refresh button when checking websites they frequently look at. Sometimes it helps in getting the new content instead of the content in your cache. (grin)

Greg Melvin said...

ESPN spends more time making fun of the "redneck nascar crowd" than reporting on it.

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