Editor's Blog: Old And New - How Media Is Changing

The comment that I have probably received most since I started this blog was "I want your job!" And frankly, I have to pinch myself to see if this is still all really happening, so it is a sentiment I can completely understand. Being allowed to work in the MotoGP paddock and up in the press room feels like a genuine privilege, and being surrounded with people who share the same passion is truly remarkable.

I often wonder at how this all came about. Just over four years ago, I posted a season preview on the Adventure Rider motorcycle forum, and now, I learned today, I am the first journalist from an online publication ever to receive a permanent pass from Dorna. In the intervening years I have worked hard both to keep learning as much as I can about racing, and communicate my passion for the sport to a wider audience. It has cost me blood, sweat, tears, and more money than I like to think about, but all these would have been to no avail if it wasn't for one factor: The Internet.

For the internet changes everything: It has allowed me to reach quite literally hundreds of thousands of readers, without having to spend a fortune in printing and distribution costs, or without having to persuade an array of magazine editors to send me to races. More than that, though, it has allowed me not just to reach readers, but to actually interact with them, to get their comments and to respond to them, to start engaging in what the social marketing people refer to as "The Conversation".

Even though I regard myself as relatively internet savvy, I still always feel like I'm struggling to keep up. The editor of Asphalt & Rubber, an outstanding motorcycle website, pointed out to me recently that we are already being overtaken by other media, by newer media, by Facebook and Twitter and Youtube and FriendFeed and MySpace and Orkut and any number of other social media channels which keep springing up like mushrooms after an autumn rainshower. After all, why go to a website for results when you can simply wait for them to come by on Twitter?

I am here as a guest of the Fiat Yamaha Team's social media arm, part of the Fiat On The Web marketing effort. And even though I'm active on Twitter (regularly) and Facebook (occasionally), I feel decades (which in internet terms is about 6 months) behind what these people are trying to do. Just following them on Twitter has been remarkable, watching how they enable the conversations going on between the team and the fans, building the Fiat brand through a sense of connection.

There is almost a sense of synchronicity that Fiat's marketing efforts should be linked to Yamaha's racing program. For the Fiat Yamaha team already boasts some of the most avid users of social media actually on the team. Jorge Lorenzo is extremely active on Twitter and Facebook, not just posting items but actually taking time to reply and respond to fans. Lorenzo understands - and more importantly, actually enjoys - that it is all about interaction, about building a sense of community. So much so that he has a sticker with his Twitter account on the screen of his bike. Alex Briggs, a mechanic for Valentino Rossi, is an avid user of Twitter, and is constantly posting insights and pictures and sharing his experience with his followers.

I spoke at length with Livio Suppo - formerly of Ducati, now of HRC - today, about marketing and sponsorship, and one of the things he said was that the game was changing, and that he had to find ways of persuading sponsors to invest in Honda's racing program. It was all about creating business-to-business opportunities, he said, about offering a space for sponsors to network.

That, it seems to me, is really the 1.0 version of social media, social media the old-fashioned way, if you like. It's all about the conversation, but the conversation takes place face-to-face, rather than online. The Fiat Yamaha web team's effort to shift that conversation online, and broaden it and make it more engaging and more inclusive is the same idea, but because it's online, the message is reaches an exponentially larger audience.

Like all change, this shift is meeting with plenty of resistance from the old guard. Dorna themselves are struggling with new media and the internet, desperately trying to stem the tide of fan-generated media that is flooding the internet.

Hardest hit of all, though, are the print and magazine journalists. While I generally try and get results online within half an hour of the race or practice session finishing, by the time the page is up and the feed loading in people's RSS readers, that audience has already heard the results on Twitter, or posted to any one of the many, many thousands of racing bulletin boards and forums around the web.

Breaking news can no longer be held over for a few days for print deadlines, it is available online immediately. Here again, Twitter has changed the game: Once upon a time, quotes from press conferences were online on news websites within a few hours of them being uttered. About six months ago, those quotes started being twittered live from press conferences by forward-looking journalists such as Toby Moody and Gavin Emmett. Right now, riders are starting to post those quotes on Twitter before they even get to the press conference, sometimes just seconds after getting off the bike.

As internet connectivity becomes increasingly omnipresent, the role of the journalist is changing. No longer is he or she the intermediary between fans and their heroes: As Jorge Lorenzo and the Fiat Yamaha Team's social media presence demonstrated, that role is no longer necessary. Twitter and Facebook have now reached a critical mass, a fact the first round of MotoGP at Qatar has made crystal clear. Watching the stream of tweets exchanged between fans, riders, team members, and journalists, it was obvious that something new was happening, people were finding new ways of connecting, sharing the experience of MotoGP with one another, from the minutiae of technical details shared by the paddock insiders to the raw, unbridled passion of the fans.

Whenever a (media) revolution takes place - and that is alarmingly regularly in the 21st century - those afraid of change will be left by the wayside. After one rider expressed himself rather pithily at a rider debrief - basically a public press conference organized by the team's press office and open to any media who care to turn up - a print journalist turned to me and demanded that I not use that juicy quote on the internet, as it was in response to "his" question. As it happened, I had not intended to use that quote - it was merely an expression of frustration - as I didn't really have a context to place it in on MotoMatters.com. Naturally, that demand made me start thinking up ways to use it, but in the end, I decided against it. Why change the way I work out of spite? It would have made more work than it was worth.

The journalist's response, while rather petulant, was entirely understandable, trying to protect the patch he has built up over the years. But the game has already moved on, and like Dorna spending untold hours of time issuing takedown notices for Youtube videos of MotoGP races, while the races themselves are streamed live on peer-to-peer networks and exchanged through torrent sites, this is a battle that has already been lost.

Far better, like the Fiat Yamaha Team, to embrace change, and find and exploit the opportunities which new media, new social media, and new channels offer. Far better to join the conversation, rather than stand shouting to yourself in a corner.

Essential MotoGP new media resources:

Fiat Yamaha Team
Website: http://www.fiatyamahateam.it
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fiatyamahateam
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/fiatyamahateam - Official hashtag: #fiatyamahateam
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/fiatyamahateam
Twibbon: http://twibbon.com/join/Fiat-Yamaha-Team-2
Fiat On The Web's MotoGP list: http://twitter.com/fiatontheweb/motogp
Fiat On The Web's Fiat Yamaha Team list: http://twitter.com/fiatontheweb/followthefiatyamahateam

Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/motomatters/
Twitter rider list: http://twitter.com/motomatters/riders
Twitter racing list: http://twitter.com/motomatters/motogp
Our Facebook page still has the old name in it, and so a new one will be created soon.

Blog: http://www.fiatontheweb.fiat.it
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fiat
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/fiatontheweb
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/fiat
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/fiatontheweb
FriendFeed: http://www.friendfeed.com/fiat

Live race results tweets from the MotoRaceReports crew:


There are a million more. Please join the conversation, and add your own lists and social and new media links below. Together, we know more than we do on our own.

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It's still nice to sit down with a magazine and read the report, and look at the photos.
Internet is great, and I spend too much time on it as it is, but, a magazine or book that one can pick up, take with you, read on a plane is still the best.

I agree that there is something nice about having a printed magazine to sit down and read, but when i buy a bike magazine i usualy skim through the racing sections because as mr emmett points out most of us have already got that information from the net.
media is changing and i feel for some that have spent a career building up networks only to have them slowly becoming irrelevant.
but its a good time to be a racing fan.
bring on the revolution!

I agree with the above comment, to a point. I do love the feel of a magazine, but in a sport that takes major steps forward every race weekend, a magazine's 1-2 month lag-time is unrealistic. A real fan wants it faster than that. I see magazines as a great way to get out longer, more in-depth stories that a person on the 'net is unlikely to wade through. However, even the best motorcycle magazine only takes a couple uninterupted hours to read cover-to-cover, and a few hours a month just doesn't cut it. Also, reading anything of considerable length is on the decline in the younger generations.
The downside of the Internet is the regurgitation. A savvy fan should quickly recognize which sites regularly have original material (motomatters.com, roadracerx.com, and OnTheThrottle.tv come immediately to mind, as well as Dennis Noyes' work on SpeedTV.com), visit them often, and give feedback whenever so inclined.

With out the Mags the toilet would not be any fun and boaring!! men will always buy mags to have in the lunch rooms and toilets.
I belive the sucess you are having is to the fact that you have a great American audience and a few from Australia/ New Zealand who desperatly need a great site like this to keep up with the news.
I used to go to another site motogp.com to look at the news but you have the links any way. and i used to have to race in side and look up all the results on there site as well. but they changed the format of there results and it sucks. yours is much better.

Print is dead. But news is growing and growing.

Case in point.

Currently I'm lying on my bed reading this website, and others like it, on my iPhone ( my wife beside me reading a book) in Sydney Australia. This is something I do every night. So I would call myself a die hard motogp fan. How many motorcycle magazines have I purhased in the last 12 months? Only 1, when I was at bored an airport last week.

What kind of fan is going to spend money to get outdated news, in print?

Wait till you see how popular the ipad becomes!

There is still a place for magazines, I firmly believe that. The latest copy of the MCN Sport magazine is doing the rounds here in the paddock, and that is proving very popular. There's so much in there to read.

The point is, though, none of it is news, it is all background, and that is precisely what magazines and books are good for. For sitting down for a bit of relaxation and with enough peace and quiet to give some thought to what you are reading. That is still easier with paper than with electronic gadgets, and until we have a true electronic equivalent of paper - foldable and lightweight, and big enough to provide a lot to look at -  magazines and books still have some life left in them. Once magazines realize what their strengths are, and work to that, rather than trying to be news sources, they will have a long and successful future.

Firstly, I want to also congratuate you on getting the first online press pass. Well deserved and certainly about time!

And I agree with you that articles and non news items are all non digital magazines can do. But it's just a matter of time before it all shifts over.

My point is that the financials of printing magazines just do not add up. The cost of paper is rising as is the cost of fuel to physically deliver these magazines. I'm telling you if MCN could get $1 or $0.50 for a digital copy (app) of their magazine they would be a hell of a lot more profitable then from selling a $7.50 copy at the newstand. And don't get me started on the subsidized subscription culture of the american magazine sector. It's not a question of 'if' it's just a matter of how long some publications will hold on for and how much money their owners are willing to lose in order to keep printing paper.

Hey, Krop. Check out the book "Create Your Own Economy: A Path to Prosperity in a Disorder World" by Tyler Cowen

The book has several shortcomings and the author shoehorns his buzzwords and his ideas into the zeitgeist of the recession economy, but at it's core, the book contains several very interesting observations about how human beings process information as a consumer good.

Most interesting, imo, are the observations about how people process standard media and rich media. It also has several ideas for turning standard media into rich media.

For all of its short-comings, I'd say it's still a must-read for your industry. Skim it on a long plane ride and mine out the good info.

Here's a preview.


Thanks for that! I'll definitely check that out - that's more or less what I have done, inventing my own economy - so it will be interesting to see what the guy has to say. It will have to wait till I get home, though, as there is always so much to do at race weekends.

When i was a kid (I'm 40) i had a fantasy of a little black box i could carry around and ask it any question and get the answer. Now we have smart-phones, net-books, wi-fi and google.

We can transfer information instantly to anyone. We can communicate with groups of like minded people from around the world at a click. We are truly are at the dawn of a new age. One as important as the creation the written word. Things are going to change quickly. So much can be said...

To keep it to the topic of journalism and marketing; I think it will be interesting to see how we filter for the needle in the haystack and manage our time.

I personally can't stand twitter and consider it self serving noise, for the most part. Entertainers use twitter to gain followers which they consider money in the bank. A rider with 10 million followers has more marketing value then a rider with none. You can be sure Lorenzo knows this.

Facebook in general seems to be geared toward, well, a certain type of person ;) Facebook itself has more momentum then foundation. On the corporate side it's full of unimaginative bandwagon opportunist. sell sell sell.

When it comes to my personal time it's all about content. In the case of motomatters.com the honesty and passion shines through. Although there is advertising and profit making (I hope!)the content is not a rehash or watery mush designed to hold up an advertisement. Like a certain site that produces motorcycle 'articles' daily.

I don't even read motogp.com because their content feels sanitized, void of any heart or opinion and produced by numbers and formula by job orders.

Here i get insight, passion, honesty and intelligence. The people who post here, the community and conversation, it's all far above average. It's certainly not youtube.

I'd still click this site (and superbikeplanet.com) 10 times a day if you had a 2 month delay on your postings.

There's more to life then fast food.

Keep feeding us the good stuff David and may your passion continue to lead you to success!

I, like you, was sceptical of Twitter. And you're right, it can be filled with a lot of self-serving nonsense. But with the advent of lists, it becomes possible to filter out the noise and actually find something engaging. I have used my own rider list to find out what the conditions are and what happened to riders at races I'm not attending, so it's been a very rich resource.

As for celebrities, for the most part you're right, I think. Almost everyone in the paddock follows Lance Armstrong, but he never engages with his followers. However, there are some genuine exceptions, and Jorge Lorenzo is one of those. Of course he realizes the marketing value of Twitter, but he really does have conversations, taking the time to respond to questions posed by fans. As the sheer quantity of his followers grow, that is going to be increasingly difficult to maintain, but from what I've seen, he genuinely wants to be part of the crowd, rather than above it.

Mags will never be bested on the toilet or lunch-room.
It makes me laugh people talking of 'seeing' races of the old and bold.
The way I remember it races were hardly televised and you'd have to wait till the following thursday to get the race results from MCN in the UK or CycleWorld in the US.
So unless you were there you probably didnt 'see' the race.
But all said and done for race fans the internet is a gift from the racing gods!

First cyber-journo to get on the Dorna A-list eh David?? That says something in it's self. Well done mate, after the race has died down I'm going to start a 'questions to Krop' thread over in the forum so we can ask what is it like to be back stage.

And may I reiterate Les's last sentance.

Congats on the success David! You deserve it all, a great writer that creates more interest about the sport I love. Keep the excellent interviews coming :)

"...Just over four years ago, I posted a season preview on the Adventure Rider motorcycle forum, and now, I learned today, I am the first journalist from an online publication ever to receive a permanent pass from Dorna...".

If ever a motorcycle racing journalist deserved a bit of success for their efforts, it's you David. I know I'm repeating what others have said, but the MotoMatters website has a distinct character - the content is intelligent, insightful, and is well-written (all too rare these days, sadly!). I really like the fact that the content extends to the technical side of the sport, to interviews with important but relatively unseen players in motorcycle racing, and that political matters are handled with maturity. Lastly, as others have mentioned, your love for this sport shines through...

May you and your site go from strength to strength...

Andrew Matusiewicz
Canberra, Australia

As a fellow motorbike racing fan, I get information from many sources: Live TV, websites, and both online and printed magazines. I don't Twitter. I do have a Facebook identity, however do not spend much time on it and certainly don't go there for news of any sort, other than what folks email me.

The thing I enjoy about reading is getting somebody else's perspective on a race. To relive the race through someone else's eyes is also a kind of high. The one area I don't understand is printed magazines. I have tried to get a subscription of a written magazine (auto, not bike) as a PDF and had no response whatsoever from the pertaining company. I was willing to pay the annual sub to have it delivered to my inbox weekly as a PDF. I would have thought that it would have been money in the bag for them, as the printing, handling and mailing would not be an issue. I have suggested doing this to a couple of companies, thinking that most of the pages are paginated on computers for starters.

The thing about a m/bike mag is that it covers all areas of motorcycling and if one has a general interest, a good bike mag will do the trick. I gather a lot of information online about the subject. It is nice to have someone else's input into any subject, not just motorcycling, to get the broader view and reading respected journos on the subject, whether online or from a weekly/monthly magazine adds to the pleasure I take on the subject.

Having been given this website by a friend last year, I look in and appreciate the effort of all the people who assemble this website.

Right now, it's 4:20 a.m. and I'm up waiting to watch the first MotoGP race of 2010, starting at 5 a.m. here in NZ. I look forward to reading/hearing what other folks thought of the upcoming dice.

All Power to You all

I have to say the internet is my sole tool nowadays and I'm over 50.

Years ago I'd have to wait for Cycle News here in the states to know what happened.

Then there was a phone # you called and you paid to hear results, then the internet.

The world is (ever) chancing, so content has to change with it. As long as it goes along with the medium's frequency and accessibility, there will be a market for it. Indeed, internet is now the ultimate news medium. But great magazines like Performance Bikes, MCN or Motorcycle Racer are still great for backgrounds, bike reviews, interviews etc.
And I am sure people who don't buy magazines now hardly ever did it in the first place - and the real addicts read every site and buy the most 'zines. It's like social media: unlike popular belief, people who are really active on these tend to have a lot of friends in real life.
As for content, the same applies to twitter. It all depends on whom has what to say.

I'm a big fan of your work and think you are really moving ahead of the crowd! Keep it up, slowly print will die, digital wil take over fully and we will be rich and powerfull ;-)

"I am the first journalist from an online publication ever to receive a permanent pass from Dorna" Congratulations! My question is: I know Dorna makes digital media pay for a pass and lets in printed media for free. That unfair treatment shows how old-school they are in the digital world. How's this in your case?

The YamahaFiat Twitter account now has 768 followers, the Facebook fanpage about the same. I think they are making a nice effort but I think it's way too early to say this has a real influence. What do you think?

Many great comments my most posters. I especially can agree and identify with the points made by Les.

I will add that there will always be a place for printed mags - just not in racing circles. Racing fans need up to the minute information.

Every time I get on the net (several times a day) I always check motomatters, superbikeplanet and MotoGP for the latest nuggets of racing nurishment.

Congrats on a well deserved Dorna press pass - we all are the benificiaries of it!

not much of a poster but couldn't agree more with was Les said.

"When it comes to my personal time it's all about content. In the case of motomatters.com the honesty and passion shines through. Although there is advertising and profit making (I hope!)the content is not a rehash or watery mush designed to hold up an advertisement. Like a certain site that produces motorcycle 'articles' daily.

I don't even read motogp.com because their content feels sanitized, void of any heart or opinion and produced by numbers and formula by job orders.

Here i get insight, passion, honesty and intelligence. The people who post here, the community and conversation, it's all far above average. It's certainly not youtube."

Regarding the internet, I think this a good read. Hope not but wouldnt doubt it if it happens.Reading this reminds me of those IBM commercials here in the states. http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/sociopol_internet29.htm

BTW just a question David. Have they asked for your autograph or pic yet? Call me crazy or whatever but i would. hope i bump in to you at Laguna.

Hi David, just to inform you that my wife Antonella and me had permanent passes from Dorna several years ago for our internet magazine... :-)

Ciao Marco,

I have to admit, I was very surprised when one of the Dorna people told me I was the first. I immediately thought of Motocorse.com and GPOne.com and a couple of other Italian and Spanish websites. I know that some of those other sites use material from journalists already in the paddock either on a freelance basis or working for other publications, but I wasn't sure about Motocorse.com

Anyway, if I'm not the first, then that's even better. It means that there is a real shift taking place, and that in the future, maybe more online publications will be given entry into the paddock. This can only be a good thing.

Thanks for letting me know. And keep up the great work!