The media and blogging

You have to excuse me for such a misstep but it was only last week that I discovered Cervélo’s co-founder Gerard Vroomen maintains a blog. I’m loving that he writes what he feels. I read his post about cars in the race caravan and couldn’t agree more; why would a VIP want to sit in a car just in the off chance a rider might drift back to a team car and request a bottle? Wine and dine the VIPs in a course side cabaña. He also takes a swipe at Versus, a network that has shown plenty of Cervélo love in the past. Tip of the hat…

Another of his posts was regarding journalism, or the lack of, in cycling. He later apologized in a follow-up post and the fantastic blog INRNG wrote his own take – which was spot on.

This takes me to my point – what is objective sports journalism? I’ve been on both sides of the table: working for a magazine and now doing my own thing, and I can sympathize with both. A magazine/web site writer, whose career depends on access, can easily get flicked if they offend a rider. For example: you won’t get the Lance Armstrong interview, that is guaranteed to sell a crap load of issues/ hits on the web site, if you’re not on Team Armstrong. At the same time you’re no longer reporting “news” but just pushing out general information or that rider’s own agenda.

Major news media outlets have employed bloggers who specialize in sports and politics issues. is the site that got the Rep. Weiner scoop. Of course this is just one type of blogger and you can find any flavor you like in the interwebs.

When you’re a hobby blogger you don’t have to worry about upsetting an advertiser because you didn’t treat their rider/product with enough love. To a certain point they can write with impunity (sure they shouldn’t/can’t go hog-wild with half-baked thoughts or they’ll probably end up with a “cease and desist letter”) and as a reader you need to be aware what their reliability or biases are. Of course there are sponsored bloggers whose main purpose is to do product placement in their writing, but that’s a whole different category.

Personally I’ve felt the effects of not toeing the company line when Comcast/NBC/Versus terminated my contract because of my infamous Lance Armstrong twitter exchange. Bottom line I was told a producer at Versus complained because they didn’t want their access to Armstrong compromised. Even when wounded, Armstrong is still the Golden Calf that no one wants to offend. Major media outlets don’t want to compromise their ability to get that pre-stage interview when the rider gives such golden quotes as, “My legs feel good.”


  1. Matt Walsh says:

    Neil, access is a fascinating subject. As a true blogging outsider I felt I could pretty much say whatever funny thing I wanted about a rider, big or small, famous or not. I had a distance that gave me a different and I hope valuable perspective. (Cycling writing needs more humor) You have to remember that most articles are written by former riders and high level racers. It’s their little world and they can’t disturb it too much or they’re kicked out. Access denied, game over. But now that I’ve had the opportunity to write for cycling magazines and spent more time with riders at races, I’m losing that distance.I make friends but at the same time lose my distance, my objectivity and the freedom to write whatever I think is true or entertaining. It’s always a fine balance. It’s worth noting that almost all critical stories or ones that poke fun at riders are usually not signed by name. Why? Access. From Blazing Saddles to Inner RIng, writers leave off their names so they can keep their access — “hey, it wasn’t me, that was another writer who works at the same place who wrote that mean stuff.” Even Cyclesport magazine needs to talk to Bradley Wiggins. Experienced, intelligent riders and Director Sportifs understand the relationship with the press but many don’t.

  2. Kimmi says:

    You ARE an insider, yet have a forum to say what you please but please take responsibility for what you write and chatter about. Maybe, just maybe, you and Comcast/NBC/Versus weren’t a good mix from the get go – after all, isn’t this what your post is really about?

    IMO, editors/writers/bloggers/twitsters should keep their personal biases under wraps. Stop with the TMZ style gossip mongering and petty tit for tat that is rampant on the net. Let the reader form their own opinion instead of forcing yours. I’m finding that’s almost impossible for most blogger/twitsters to do and it doesn’t serve “our” sport well as it only divides the fan base. ymmv

    • Neil says:

      Not sure what you meant about I wasn’t a good mix at Comcast/Versus/NBC? I worked there for over a year and built a solid readership. To quote from an email I got from Versus after my contract was cancelled, “I apologize the way things have drastically changed here, as far as I am concerned you have been the best thing for cycling on since it has gone digital. I am saddened that it has to be this way…” My contract was cancelled due to the Armstrong exchange – no other reason.

      I am an insider privy to a lot of information that I sit on because I can’t get someone to go on record – which is very frustrating. I don’t see how I’m at all like TMZ. If I printed every email I got from sources that didn’t want to go on record, than I would agree with you. I only give my opinion on news that been reported.I’m not supposed to “serve” the sport – but give my thoughts on it – good or bad. And I’ve done both.

      I also disagree with your thoughts on keeping opinions to ourselves. That’s why people read mine and other people’s blogs in every sport – to see opinion. And like I mentioned, as a reader you need to be aware of that person’s biases.

      Thanks for reading and letting me know your thoughts.

  3. JoshOwenMorris says:

    The problem with jokes in cycling is that they get translated into half a dozen languages, and the humour is lost, leaving only things that can be taken the wrong way. It’s pretty annoying. A friend of mine did a course in UK media law, he essentially advised me to avoid speculation, or make allegations unless you can back them up. Which leaves less room for humour, which is annoying, as humourless people are the most fun to make jokes about.

    I still maintain that John Gadret is actually Skeletor.

    • Neil says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but UK law is a lot stricter regarding slander and such than here in the US. For a country that was the birthplace of Monty Python, they sure can seem like sticks in the mud.

      • JoshOwenMorris says:

        That wouldn’t surprise me to be honest. Hell, have you heard of superinjunctions? That stuff is ridiculous.

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