Monday, 5 March 2012

Rally - Telling tales

Cockermouth Main Street at the Finish
The trouble with writing a report on a rally for the weekly ‘Motorsport News’ is not so much about what to put in, it’s what to leave out. At 9.20 pm last night, the 2900 word report on Saturday’s Malcolm Wilson Rally was finished and dispatched.

But even with 2900 words, there wasn’t enough room to cover everyone and their adventures, and that’s what riles and upsets fans and followers. There were 124 cars and crews out on Saturday’s event and every one of them had a story to tell at the finish – especially those who didn’t reach the finish.

On that basis any sports reporter and journalist will have to make decisions based on what needs to be included in the story and what can be left out. Prior to each event, the Editor provides contributors with word counts, and these have to be adhered to.  There is no point in writing any more words, no matter how interesting the story might be, because only so much space has been allocated.

The Service Park at Penrith
Writing more copy than ordered also allows the Sub-Editors to wield their red pens. What they lack in finesse they make up in savagery and if a journalist has spent much time crafting a tale and telling a story, then the last thing that is wanted is some frustrated bloodlusting beast manufactured from the bits left over from Frankenstein’s monster hacking at your carefully crafted copy and butchering it to fit the space. Even when the word count is exact, there will still be traces of unnecessary tinkering - just for the hell of it.

Writing too few is not an option either. Once space has been allocated, it has to be filled.

No matter what, such reporters will always get it in the neck from some well meaning fan at the next event because a hero was missed, a story overlooked or a fact mis-reported, but that’s life.

On the other hand, if more folk bought ‘Motorsport News’ every week and more businesses advertised in it (instead of on t’internet) then they would have more pages and more space for longer reports and bigger features.

That means more stories about more crews could be written.

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