The new racing media: Is it good, bad, or both?
This year's Mark Kaufman Workshop presented by the Turf Publicists of America Dec. 4 during the University of Arizona Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming seemed to produce a "yes" response to all three questions. And that makes sense given the role of the Internet in horse racing and growth in social media.
National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association president Tom Pedulla, a long-time journalist who was let go by USA Today earlier this year but landed an online job with America's Best Racing soon after, said he understands the role of social media and getting information out quickly. But Pedulla lamented a lack of accuracy and a lack of editing that goes along with information outlets such as Twitter.
"Traditional media must have a continued role in this society," Pedulla said. "Where is all this going? I worry about where social media is taking us. Who can we count on for accurate information? I say it still needs to be traditional media."
Responses to tweets sent during the panel discussion didn't disregard traditional media but said it must co-exist with a different form of journalism that appears here to stay: Social media that relies on observation and opinion.
The position of full-time Turf writer is all but gone from many newspapers, as is racing coverage itself. The Internet, however, has picked it up via a number of websites that offer a different approach or feature blogs from non-journalists with an interest in or knowledge of racing.
Ray Paulick, publisher of the online Paulick Report, said his approach is to cover news and disseminate information in a somewhat non-traditional fashion.
"We don't worry about corporate owners or boards of directors, so we try to have a little fun with what we do," he said. "We're in a serious business, but we really don't take ourselves too seriously."
As for using aggregation and publishing press releases, Paulick said: "What's the point of hiring someone to write what somebody has already written?"
Penelope Miller, senior manager of digital media for America's Best Racing, discussed use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, and Twitter in conjunction to spread information about horse racing. She said not only is it important to take advantage of trends, but to become the authority on the trends.
For instance, thousands of tweets that used the hashtag "BC12" on Twitter produced about two million impressions, Miller said. She also said use of images rather than the written word is effective at attracting newcomers to the sport.
"Remember your audience," Miller said. "Make sure your social media outreach appeals to everyone."
Miller also suggested racetracks, particularly on big-event days, utilize mobile boosters to ensure connectivity since many people on track use mobile devices.