More talk on Miller/Gordon/Champ CarUPDATE We have had even more feedback emails on this article - you can read them here.
08/16/07 We have had many reader comments on our latest feature article. This reader took the time to respond with this detailed letter:
Dear AutoRacing1.com, First of all, a little mea culpa. I have never been a reporter and my writing has been pretty much limited to journals and letters such as this. I also am a very strong opponent of the IRL and Tony George in particular. So for better or worse, this is a letter of opinion.
Excellent article. I have always enjoyed, and still do, Robin Miller and Gordon Kirby's writings and their motorsports experiences and knowledge are impressive. Having said that, I have always wondered how a writer or reporter can maintain complete objectivity when he is being paid by the entity that he is reporting on. I think these cases are classic arguments that you can't. I think people on both sides of this situation chose to blur the line between writing and reporting.
How is that determined? I think each person has to make that call for themselves. In politics for example, my way of determining writing verses reporting is simple. If an article leaves me both in agreement and disagreement, then it is reporting. If I agree with it entirely, then it is writing. If I disagree with it, then it is obviously propaganda of the worse sort :)
As a writer paid by an organization you are either an employee or contract labor for hire. If you except any sort on remuneration from the subject of your articles, I think you cease being a side and owe your support to the person/entity that is paying you. On the other hand, if you hire a reporter to write for your cause, don't be surprised if that situation turns around and bites the hand that feeds it.
As I see it, a reporter cannot accept any sort of remuneration or perk and still call yourself impartial. Especially in a long and dragged out, but still highly charged issue such as Champ Car vs. IRL where there is so much animosity towards Tony George and his clouded "vision" that I'm of the opinion that if in your heart you are totally impartial, then you're not an open wheel race fan. I don't see how you could be. I once read somewhere that if you like baseball and live in Chicago you are either a Cubs fan or a White Sox fan. But you can't be both. And if you ever meet anyone who says they are fans of both, put your hand on your wallet and quickly back away. Perhaps it's the same way here. Objectivity is a rare commodity indeed in this situation where the sport that we all love is being slowly destroyed by egos and personal ambition.
Did RM and GK suddenly have some sort of, for lack of a better term, a revitalized sense of journalistic integrity? I don't know and I don't pretend to. I think that in the long run a reporter is just that...a reporter. And as a reporter they are eventually inclined to look at the good as well as the bad. So when your hired reporter/writer writes articles against your best interest, or contrary to what your stated position is, is it fair to retaliate? Obviously there is a difference of opinion here.
The bottom line for me is that there is enough blame to go around. I think both RM and GK crossed the line. I also think that Champ Car is wrong in making it more difficult for RM to get his press credentials for each race. Is that retaliation? Or is it an implied warning that if he doesn't totally "come around" to the Champ Car way of thinking, he might lose his credential altogether? Would they pull his credential completely? And if they do, what makes them different from Tony George making RM pretty much persona non grata at the Speedway?
Here's a bit of speculation. Robin Miller is a motorsports writer whose dislike for NASCAR and the IRL are well documented. If it happens that he is no longer welcome in the Champ Car camp, what will he do? A guy has to work. If Champ Car were to exclude RM, does the IRL offer to make nice and let bygones be bygones? I would. Where else is he going to go? But if he were to accept such an offer does he cease to be either a reporter or a writer and simply become a political pawn? A shill, as it were.
And what of Champ Car. If this were to come to pass, as I alluded to before, what would make them any different from the IRL and their most obvious spinmeisters?
In conclusion, I think that they, and by they I mean both sides, had better get their collective acts together and resolve this amicably or this will definitely become a lose/lose situation. Tony Traugott, Santa Monica, California
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