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Brian France at APSE convention

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Speedway, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. Speedway

    Speedway Member

    Brian France spoke Thursday at the APSE. His speech hits on two hot topics - blogging and access to video/photos for the web. Transcript below.

    Good afternoon, everyone.

    First, thank you for this invitation to be with you today.

    I was very honored to get the invite from outgoing APSE president Mike Fannin, our good friend at the Kansas City Star.

    And by the way … congratulations to Mike on his promotion to editor of the Star.

    Thanks also to another APSE member who has been a big help to us at this event.

    Jack Berninger, the former sports editor at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, arranged to have my father, Bill France Jr., speak at the 1998 APSE convention.

    They even had a media event at Richmond International Raceway that year, where APSE members were able to get some pace-car rides around the track.

    Despite my father's reputation for being a little contentious at times, he actually liked the media, especially the writers --although he sometimes did a good job hiding it.

    He absolutely loved sparring with the writers.

    He also loved to make surprise visits to the media center, when he would come in and hold court.

    10 years . . .

    A lot has changed during that time. Both for NASCAR's business -- and your business.

    Something I really want to emphasize at the outset is the fact that NASCAR owes much of its success to the media, starting with the print media.

    Back when NASCAR was founded by my grandfather Big Bill France in 1948, radio was the main electronic media and TV was in its infancy.

    Print coverage was more or less the only coverage for our sport.

    The days of dictation and hot type are part of NASCAR's foundation.

    Simply: You all were there for us.

    My grandfather understood the importance of media coverage as being crucial to the growth of our sport.

    My father took that understanding to a new level, helping to position NASCAR for the future.

    These days, we're trying to get a handle on that future, particularly as it relates to coverage of NASCAR by print outlets around the country.

    We have to get a handle on it . . . because just like in 1948, our success is linked to how well print media pays attention to what we're doing.

    That fundamental component of our business model has not changed.

    We don't think it ever will -- no matter how the newspaper business evolves.

    In fact, the print media had a very direct influence on how our sport got started.

    True story:

    Back in 1947, my grandfather was pitching a piece about NASCAR's first season to Wilt Garrison, then the sports editor at the Charlotte Observer.

    Bill Sr. was laying it on pretty thick, the story goes, about how the formation of NASCAR would mean there would finally be a true national championship in stock car racing.

    Wilt, meanwhile, wasn't that impressed, because there were going to be relatively few events overall.

    Wilt had a point.

    Our first Strictly Stock Series season, in 1949, consisted of only eight races.

    Wilt suggested NASCAR should have a more-extensive series of races, if we wanted to have a legitimate national champion.

    Well, by 1951 we were running 41 races in the Strictly Stock Series -- the forerunner of today's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

    Bill Sr. clearly knew a good idea when he heard it.

    The way my father saw it, the print media had a hand in legitimizing our sport, as a result of Garrison's suggestion.

    We needed your help all those years ago.

    We need your help today.

    Media coverage has never been better for NASCAR. A good example of that: Several of this year's top five award winners in the APSE national writing contest are NASCAR beat writers. . . .

    Tony Fabrizio of the Tampa Tribune . . .

    Jenna Fryer, who earned a first-place award in the Associated Press phase of the competition . . .

    And former Chicago Tribune writer Ed Hinton.

    Just as those writers are no doubt honored by these awards, so is NASCAR. This sort of recognition is another indication of our sport's popularity and mainstream acceptance.

    There are some really good writers out there covering NASCAR. I urge the sports editors in this room today to continue considering NASCAR stories as contest entries.

    As I mentioned, coverage of NASCAR is better than ever.

    But, as you might imagine, we would love to have more. That's because we feel like NASCAR is still under-covered, considering how popular the sport has become.

    We feel like NASCAR has earned an increase in coverage.

    Our average attendance is 120,000 for NASCAR Sprint Cup races.

    Our TV ratings continue to trail only the NFL.

    Our fan base is growing not only nationally but internationally.

    We have drivers who are now legitimate superstars, recognizable to both race fans and sports fans in general -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and now, Kyle Busch, for starters.

    We feel like our popularity distinguishes us from many other sports.

    But we also want to distinguish ourselves in another way, by striving to make NASCAR easier to cover.

    We think all sports should be easy to cover.

    We also think we're different from other sports because of the amount of assistance we want to provide the media. I can guarantee that we have a more media-friendly approach than you might find with other sports.

    As I said, we recognize how much we need you.

    The media, after all, is the direct connection to the fans. And believe me, we definitely understand how important our fans are to what we do.

    Ten years ago, my father summed it up this way, to this audience:

    “Our customers are your customers.”

    And you know what . . . 10 years later, that still holds true.

    NASCAR fans consume more than five hours of NASCAR-related media information each week.

    That's right …. FIVE HOURS.

    Increasingly, that time is being spent on the Internet, which speaks to part of the changing landscape of the newspaper business.

    At NASCAR, we're working hard to understand this changing landscape . . . and in the process we're trying to change with it.

    One of the keys to doing that is making sure you have the access and the information you need -- whether you are staffing our races or not.

    In recognition of the changing landscape, we are producing audio and video files that can be posted on your respective Web sites.

    This is another area where we feel like we're distinguishing ourselves from other sports.

    We know you're hearing a lot these days from other sports properties, about what you can't use, regarding streaming video.

    And you know what we've decided?

    We're going to go in another direction.

    All major sports have broadcast partners that have purchased certain rights. And of course, we're no different.

    But our aim is to help print media use emerging technologies to cover our sport.

    Granted, we have certain boundaries we have to operate within. But we're working to extend those boundaries.

    I can promise you we're addressing this issue daily, and we're making strides in the right direction as far as digital media goes.

    We now have a variety of video available for usage.

    That video is housed on NASCARMedia.com, which we feel is the very best media Web sites in all of sports.

    Another main component of that site is our photo archive. The photos there are high quality, provided by Getty Images.

    The archive is extensive and everything on the Web site is free.

    Likewise, we're not interested in limiting the editorial use of photos and videos.

    We are working to help you cover us more thoroughly.

    We hope you feel like you're benefiting from all the things we are trying to do.

    And we hope, most importantly, that your readers feel like they're the big winners.

    We also know that the definition of a media member is changing. We want to understand what that change means.

    Along those lines, we're becoming what you could call “blog-friendly.”

    Recently at Pocono Raceway, we had a great time working with a freelance journalist writing a blog for the New York Times Web site.

    We also have ongoing dialogue with a number of other bloggers who have their own Web sites.

    These are challenging economic times for all businesses.

    I know I don't have to remind you of that.

    At NASCAR, we understand our sport can be expensive to cover, with race weekends lasting four days, requiring rental cars and hotel rooms.

    Budgets are tough to deal with.

    But we urge you to think twice when it comes to making decisions that affect NASCAR beat coverage.

    Don't get me wrong; we love the coverage the Associated Press provides.

    But we also feel like your readers deserve a local voice, a dedicated beat writer who can truly bring NASCAR home and make it relevant to them.

    Please . . . Keep your NASCAR writers.

    I want to leave you with the assurance that we can help you serve the millions of fans who love NASCAR.

    We are confident that interest is going to stay strong.

    We feel like we have the best storylines in all of sports.

    We feel like we have the best access in all of sports.

    We have a lot to offer today, and we're going to have even more to offer in the future.

    As we try to grow our business, we hope to assist you in growing yours.

    We are absolutely committed to providing that assistance.

    Back in '98, my Dad, as usual, was right.

    Our customers are indeed your customers.

    Thank you.
  2. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    France claiming NASCAR has "the best access in all of sports" might be the biggest line of bullshit I'll read on this board all month. And that's really saying something.
  3. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    NASCAR used to have incredible access. I'm guessing Earnhardt's death was the beginning of the end of that...
  4. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    That was pretty much where he lost me too.

    Even better is reading this and hearing Brian's voice, begging to keep the media members. I can't remember what race I did earlier this year, but it was a ghost town. I can't believe Pocono was packed with media.
  5. Rockbottom

    Rockbottom Active Member

    I gotta disagree. Having covered SEVERAL of the NASCAR events at "big 2.66-mile statewide track", the access to NASCAR drivers, crews, etc., is WAY WAY WAY beyond what I see in other sports.

    Want to talk to a driver? Saunter up to that team's hauler or garage area (which, by the way, is akin to standing next to Bill Belichick while he calls plays at practice), hit up a PR person (EVERY driver has one), and you'll get in.

    Driver wrecks out of race halfway through? Catch him en route from infield hospital (they always have to go there) to his hauler, and ask away. Imagine getting access to Kobe Bryant during the second half of a Lakers game.

    Say your assignment is on how the pits work during a race? No problem ... your Hot Pass (which they issue to just about any credentialed media worker that asks) allows to to get *so close* to the pits DURING THE RACE that you can practically catch lugnuts while they are coming off the cars. Anyone been within a quarter-mile of a MLB dugout during a game recently?

    Sure, NASCAR could improve its access. But, to me at least, it is pretty damn good already. I wish the University of Podunk was 10 percent as good as NASCAR is.

  6. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

  7. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    NASCAR's access has eroded more in the last 5-6 years than any other sport I've covered ... and I've covered them all.

    I had better luck getting what I needed when I covered Formula One than I did NASCAR during the last year I covered both ('06). The first year I covered both ('01) that was unthinkable.

    And it's not just access. If you're on deadline, prepare to wait FOREVER for the race winner, unless you just want the shit off TV. By comparison, F1 takes about 10 minutes from the podium ceremony. The IRL takes about 25-30 minutes. NASCAR? Thirty minutes is miraculous, at least it was last time I covered it. Compound that with NASCAR's increasingly late start times and it's a problem.

    As for the PR people? Some are helpful and an increasing amount of others are deliberately not helpful and are there largely to run interference for their drivers so they don't have to face YOU with all of that wonderful garage access.
  8. JBHawkEye

    JBHawkEye Active Member

    There was a brief Q&A, two or three questions. Nothing really earth-shaking was asked.
  9. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Active Member

    Brian France shoveling? Big surprise.

    Until something is done about him and Mike Helton, things won't improve for NASCAR, either from a fan or media point of view.
  10. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    what's the crowd like at the convention? and what's the ambiance like?
  11. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    After the speech, France said for some reason he had the desire to go back to NASCAR and lay off 25 percent of his staff...

    Maybe it was something in the water at APSE...
  12. HoopsMcCann

    HoopsMcCann Active Member

    can any nascar types tell me about this part?

    my particular blog, i'll shoot video -- but i'm under some very different rules when it comes to mlb and nfl. for the nfl, i can only use 90 seconds a day of anything shot at the stadium (not including games which are completely off limits) -- practice, interviews, lunch spread.... and it has to be gone 24 hours after it is posted

    mlb it's 120 seconds.
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