Monday 11 June 2012

Blethers - Motorsport News

I’ve had a few calls wondering where I’ve been, but I took a few days off after the Jim Clark Rally. And no, I didn’t any attend water pageants, or horse and carriage parades, and I didn’t bother to go out and see anyone running around the countryside with a naked flame on a stick, followed by hingers-oan and tour buses. Carbon neutral? I don’t think so.

I didn’t update the Blog after the Jim Clark Reivers Rally because I was completely knackered. During the weekend I filled 79 pages of an 80 page notebook with notes and quotes, observations and deductions. Late on Saturday night I sat all alone in a hotel dining room, defying the staff to switch off the lights, typing up the first half of the ‘Motorsport News’ report and then immediately results were  final on Sunday headed for home to finish off the report.

During the weekend there was the International, National and Reivers rallies on which to report plus the Historics, Land Rovers, Clios and Fiestas and all the other classes, but the biggest problem was on Sunday when the Internationals were servicing in Kelso while at the same time, the Reivers were servicing in Duns – 20 miles away.

On Saturday I had to choose between interviewing the Internationals clocking into Parc Ferme in Kelso or the Nationals crossing the finishing line in Duns. I chose the Nationals which meant an early start Sunday to catch up with the Internationals early doors to see how their Saturday afternoon run went.

When finished the ‘Motorsport News’ report was 4,000 words long. Time was when a British International report (without all the extras) would be double that, but apparently, the attention span of the current generation is limited to 140 characters – or thereabouts.

On that basis, Motorsport News is losing out to the Internet, but if we lose it, we will not get another weekly motorsports newspaper. Nothing will replace it. Once gone, all we will have is the Internet. Every print newspaper is struggling to survive these days, so MN is not alone. The big problem is generating enough advertising to cover the costs of print, distribution and journalism, and the Internet is soaking up a lot of that advertising revenue.

I know that MN has its critics, but what do they expect? If they stop buying it, circulation drops, advertisers go elsewhere, page numbers are reduced and journalists are paid off. It’s a vicious circle. Many of its critics complain about the cover price. Yes, it’s £2.95, but what price is a gallon of petrol (doubled in the past 7 years), pint of beer (up 50% in 6 years), or a packet of crisps - nearly a quid for half a potato these days?

And don’t go thinking that I’m only trying to preserve my job. If I was dependent on MN fees I would have been in the Poor House long ago. Quite often I spend more on expenses attending rallies than I get in fees, so why do I do it? Stupid question and there’s no intelligent, reasonable answer.

I do it simply because I love the sport of rallying and would hate to see the sport derived of its only motor sporting weekly newspaper.

It’s the same for all the other MN contributors around the country. They don’t do it for the money, they do it for the sport. Whether you like their reports or not, agree or disagree with their opinions, it is still the one constant in a fast changing sporting world.

For sure, the Internet is an excellent source of information, but the big concern I have is, who writes the stuff and how accurate is it? There are many good sites out there, but there is heckuva lot of rubbish. The trouble is deciding which is which.

So I’m a fan of MN. Always have been, always will be. Use it or lose it.

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