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Journalists

Mar 17, 2009
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Just saw the 2008 Ethics, Doping, and the Future of Cycling that Lemond spoke at.
http://fora.tv/2008/02/17/Ethics_Doping_and_the_Future_of_Cycling#fullprogram

One of the things that struck me was his comments about journalists. I expected him have admiration for David Walsh & Paul Kimmage, but I was a little surprised by his comments about cycling journalists in general.

With the WSJ, NY Times etc now covering the latest Federal investigation is it almost impossible for the UCI to keep the lid on doping in general? Could we see in the aftermath of these cases a shift in the journalist-cyclist/team dynamic so that the corruption is less likely to be covered up?

They are capable of it occasionally. The Procycling interview with Ricco seemed to be moving in that direction although one cannot wonder how else one could write up an interview with him!
 
Feb 14, 2010
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I'm not sure what to expect from the future. Part of the problem is that cycling publications rely on cooperation of teams and riders for their content, and also on sponsors to advertise their products for revenue. There's also a vested interest in keeping the pro sport popular because more active fans means more magazine sales or web traffic.

When the Wall Street Journal first published the Landis accusations, I figured it would be a perfect time to watch journalists pick sides, and to show just how committed they are to a side.

I won't call him a journalist, but I had the misfortune of listening to Eurosport UK race coverage the next day when Carlton Kirby (affiliated with the Planet Armstrong show?) rubbished the whole thing in no uncertain terms.

There was an article on Velonation at the time - I forget the details, but the gist was that cheating in the past should stay in the past. I wrote a comment with the opposing view, which I copied and pasted in my "Plea For Integrity" thread. I went on to other things, then found an e-mail from the journo saying he had deleted my comment, and chastising me for not having the whatever to post under my real name instead of "theswordsman".

I replied, telling him that unlike his generic name (hundreds with the same name just on twitter), my name is unique, if you know it, you can find my apartment, and that I've gotten threats before. I told him to delete my account, lectured him against harassing readers who support the site (he also used to follow me on twitter for links without knowing it was me), and told him to ****** off.

Do I think either of those two examples will change in the future? Sadly, no.

The good news is that for the most part, twitter no longer counts as an interview. There are a few journalists that I trust, and they cover stories like the Landis statement. But people like Bill Strickland who were still pushing the Lance hype to sell his book, no I don't think he'll change no matter what is revealed. I don't trust anyone at Versus or Bicycling Magazine. I've gotten some replies from journos on twitter that caused me to write them off.

I think for the next year, the big stories will continue to come from mainstream news or sports media with no ties or dependence on the cycling industry.
 
May 26, 2010
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if you read a dedicated mag, paper, website to a particular sport you really should take it with a pinch of salt as the sportspeople are so tied to sponsorship that what is written about them from a journalistic point of view will always be tapered to not upsetting the advertising as it such a necessity to the survival of said publication. That is always why the most honest sports articles tend to come in non dedicated publications.

I gave up reading dedicated publications a while ago for that reason. More PR spin than journalism.

Walsh, Ballestre and Kimmage, if it wasn't for the support of their editors would be putting their careers on the line to write the way they do and i believe they would continue to write the way they do with or without the support of the editors
 
Mar 20, 2009
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The behaviour you speak of is obviously ridiculous and can't be condoned. However, I know a few financial journalists - I'm a banker (boooo) and give quotes from time to time. Whatever made them want to do it to start with, now it's just a job and apart from a very lucky few who can write what they want, in the main it's about filing copy whilst the magazine gets on with the serious business of selling advertising space. My bank is an advertiser, that means that the tedious routine of checking quotes etc. is paid more than lip service - if we ever feel we've been quoted out of context or misrepresented, or even just criticised, then we can wave the big stick of pulling the advertising revenue. The journalists can only get to me via our press officer, who is not a lady you'd ever want to upset.

It is with this in mind that I read what journalists have to say about LAS. His picture, and interviews with him, sell magazines. Trek and Nike are big spending advertisers. As long as those remain true, he'll get an easy ride.

It's also worth, when reading a product review, checking whether the manufacturer has a full page advertisement in the magazine. Why would the sub let a bad review go to print?
 
Mar 17, 2009
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Benotti69 said:
if you read a dedicated mag, paper, website to a particular sport you really should take it with a pinch of salt as the sportspeople are so tied to sponsorship that what is written about them from a journalistic point of view will always be tapered to not upsetting the advertising as it such a necessity to the survival of said publication. That is always why the most honest sports articles tend to come in non dedicated publications.

I gave up reading dedicated publications a while ago for that reason. More PR spin than journalism.

Walsh, Ballestre and Kimmage, if it wasn't for the support of their editors would be putting their careers on the line to write the way they do and i believe they would continue to write the way they do with or without the support of the editors
Oh I have my sack of salt ready, believe you me!!

I am just wondering if the involvement of non partisan publications will have a lasting positive effect on cycling.
 
Mar 17, 2009
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keen_but_slow said:
It's also worth, when reading a product review, checking whether the manufacturer has a full page advertisement in the magazine. Why would the sub let a bad review go to print?
Having been in the bike retail business for over 15 years I have been telling customers that for a long time!
 
Feb 14, 2010
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ultimobici said:
Oh I have my sack of salt ready, believe you me!!

I am just wondering if the involvement of non partisan publications will have a lasting positive effect on cycling.

I doubt that it will in terms of where dedicated cycling fans get their information. I'd think that the competition for readership might force some to try to raise their game in terms of broad stories like the Landis stuff. But considering that guys who cover the whole race season should have all kinds of access and contacts, I don't see them out asking the hard questions or calling shenanigans.

If there is a lasting effect, it would probably come from outside publications publishing stories from the investigations that might clean up the sport. If there's less bad stuff going on, there's less to hide.

There are also some journalists who know things about riders, but the publications have no interest in making themselves liable. I've known guys who said they have some good stories, but won't share them until a guy tests positive or whatever.

To really make things better, as is the case with riders and the UCI, some journos need to go away.
 
May 26, 2010
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cycling has never been healthier in terms of an activity. In relation to the sport, well, as long as people ride bikes there will always be people who want to race them..

just back from some time in tuscany, italy where american couples were paying $15,000 to ride around for 8 days (backroads.com)...and while there i saw about 5 other companies providing the same type of cycling holidays, the bikes have the company name on them instead of the frame manufacturers.
 
Jun 19, 2009
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theswordsman said:
I doubt that it will in terms of where dedicated cycling fans get their information. I'd think that the competition for readership might force some to try to raise their game in terms of broad stories like the Landis stuff. But considering that guys who cover the whole race season should have all kinds of access and contacts, I don't see them out asking the hard questions or calling shenanigans.

If there is a lasting effect, it would probably come from outside publications publishing stories from the investigations that might clean up the sport. If there's less bad stuff going on, there's less to hide.
There are also some journalists who know things about riders, but the publications have no interest in making themselves liable. I've known guys who said they have some good stories, but won't share them until a guy tests positive or whatever.

To really make things better, as is the case with riders and the UCI, some journos need to go away.

I think any sport that's experienced a house cleaning has outside media to thank. The interrelation of journalists/atheletes for access has always been a delicate balance and truth would get compromised to maintain it. Hopefully the egregious facilitators will get flushed out with their counterparts in the UCI, USAC, etc.
 
I've quit reading magazines, nearly altogether. When I fly, I take a Men's Health to kill the time. Or a Nordic Sports or Top Gear.
Bike mag journalists are so incredibly ignorant on the actual finer tech of a bicycle (barely rocketscience). Hard to even talk to them without them automatically exclaming the most unthought-through superficial prejudices. No mind of their own, and no willingness to learn from someone actually in the know of the issue at hand.
Some renowned EU sports journalists may be going down along with Lance, always showing up in the picture with their yelow wristbands. They got them from LA himself, so don't even effectively support any charity with it but the Lance Show :)
 
Jun 19, 2009
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Cloxxki said:
I've quit reading magazines, nearly altogether. When I fly, I take a Men's Health to kill the time. Or a Nordic Sports or Top Gear.
Bike mag journalists are so incredibly ignorant on the actual finer tech of a bicycle (barely rocketscience). Hard to even talk to them without them automatically exclaming the most unthought-through superficial prejudices. No mind of their own, and no willingness to learn from someone actually in the know of the issue at hand.
Some renowned EU sports journalists may be going down along with Lance, always showing up in the picture with their yelow wristbands. They got them from LA himself, so don't even effectively support any charity with it but the Lance Show :)


I've notice the absence of these on the wrists of some supporters, one a cancer survivor that did local work for Livestrong. I don't ask because it's got to be sensitive for him. My Dad's oncologist removed his two weeks ago.
 
Aug 9, 2010
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Oldman said:
[/B]

I've notice the absence of these on the wrists of some supporters, one a cancer survivor that did local work for Livestrong. I don't ask because it's got to be sensitive for him. My Dad's oncologist removed his two weeks ago.
A bandectomy?

Some very sweeping assertions/assumptions about journos being ignorant of bike tech and massaging reviews. Any evidence for this or is it just 'stuff that everyone knows', like the govt concealing evidence of alien landings?
 
Jul 29, 2010
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I have a good friend who is a mainstream print journalist, and has recently moved into cycling journalism as well. He was always a bit of a fanboy in the past, proudly trumpeting the "supremacy" of USCycling, vis-a-vis the man in Yellow.

Now that he is covering cycling, he is beginning to get access to the big-name US stars. This is any fanboy's wet dream, and I fully expect him to transition from fanboy, to chamois-sniffer w/a tape recorder and press pass.

As for "critical reporting", he told me recently his role as a journalist is to be "automatically skeptical" of any doping allegations -- unless they can be proven, he is not interested, b/c he can only report what is true (cue dry-heaving sounds :rolleyes:). As far as the Great Yellow One, the furthest my journo friend will go is to say that Yellow "may have doped at some point in his career." :(

Anyways, he's my friend so I say nothing. But I'd say this is not uncommon. Fanboy as journalist, access to stars, rubbing elbows, man-crush boners, etc. No reason to expect any critical journalism anytime soon. Sort of like if I got to shadow Kim Kardashian and interview her in her dressing room. Trust me -- it'd be Pulitzer worthy. :)