By admin | January 25, 2011
By Richard Allen
Let me begin this column by pointing out that I am not attending the Sprint Media Tour but have based this piece on columns I have read by Jeff Gluck and Monte Dutton as well as numerous twitter accounts from a variety of racing media.
On Monday the Sprint Media tour made its first in a series of stops at the shop of Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. Former crew chief turned Fox Sports analyst Larry McReynolds was on hand to serve as a host or master of ceremonies for the media’s visit to that facility.
Reportedly, at the end of the event McReynolds decided to go “off the script” for a moment. Obviously what he had to say struck a nerve as is evidenced by the columns written by the two men mentioned above as well as a myriad of social networking comments by the likes of Jim Utter, Tom Jensen and Steve Waid.
McReynolds, according to those who were there, scolded the media for too often stressing the negative and avoiding the positive. According to Gluck’s column Larry Mac said to the media assembled that, “If it’s television ratings, we know the ratings are down. How about also promoting that we’re second only to the NFL? If there’s 25,000 empty seats at Michigan, how about making sure you document there’s still over 100,000 people in those grandstands?”
Gluck reported that a number of media groaned at the time and then made fun of the television personality’s comments for the rest of the day. According to Dutton, he later pressed McReynolds about his remarks and found the analyst willing to criticize those who would point out lowered television ratings and empty grandstand seats even when those reports are accurate.
Ultimately, McReynolds did a disservice to those he was supposed to be there to represent. The media had come to hear about EGR’s plan for the 2011 season but they left only talking about Larry McReynolds, who for whatever reason, decided to make himself the story by going “off-script”.
In the end EGR may not get the same coverage as other teams who are part of the media tour because of McReynolds’ comments.
But more than doing a disservice to EGR, McReynolds failed to do any good for the organization he most intended to help, NASCAR. What McReynolds has done is to further confirm how out of touch with reality some of the highest ranking NASCAR insiders truly are and how little regard they hold for the fans’ ability to see for themselves exactly what is going on with the sport.
No one, media or otherwise, likes to be lectured on the best way to do their jobs. This is especially true of the media, which is supposed to be in place to report what they see and hear rather than to serve as cheerleaders for NASCAR or any particular team or driver. The media being told they are not doing their jobs correctly if they do not ‘look on the bright side’ is not the way to get them on your side.
Just think how many columns, twitter posts and so on there will now be throughout the season regarding Larry Mac’s focus on the positive message.
McReynolds might as well have said, “Don’t worry about the truth, tell them what NASCAR wants them to hear.” It would have gone over every bit as well as a preachy sermon on working together to, “turn this thing around.”
If McReynolds had planned to say something that would incense those he was speaking to he could not have done a better job. If he planned to benefit Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and NASCAR, he could not have done worse.
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