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The changing shape of American journalism? Look in the mirror, because it's you....

   By Mike Mulhern

   Citizen journalists.
   Or rather "citizen journalists," as NASCAR officials are calling them.
   The NASCAR plan is somewhat curious – ostensibly to open the various media centers to a special group of handpicked website writers.
   It is curious, first, because NASCAR media centers have long been open to handpicked website writers.
   As many lap dogs as NASCAR sometimes appears to have, what's a few more?
   It is also curious, because NASCAR says it is doing this to adapt to the changing face of American media.
   Well, yes: American media, at least the traditional newspaper media, has fallen by the wayside over the past two years, with publishers across the country firing writers at an astonishing pace and completely eliminating most NASCAR coverage, except for what the AP provides.
    So all the NASCAR media centers are in danger of becoming 'ghost boxes.' And part of this plan seems to at least populate the various media centers with live bodies, to keep them from becoming echo chambers.
   Of course part of the fallacy in this plan is easy to see – if the country's big newspapers are cutting out NASCAR coverage because of the expense of getting to these tracks and paying those $200 a night hotel bills, how in the world are small website writers supposed to be able to pay the bills?
   The bottom line, however, is this: the NASCAR world is already filled with 'citizen journalists' – you, the readers.
   The marvel of the web is not the ability of anyone, like mikemulhern.net, to fill a website with copy, but rather the marvel is that every reader, every single reader, gets a chance to add to each story. Every reader has the opportunity to comment on each story and agree or disagree and offer points and counterpoints and raise side issues….and generally say just about anything on the topic at hand.
   It matters not, really, what we put on the website; what really matters is what you, the reader, adds to our copy.
   That is the true nature of 'citizen journalism.'


I used to be an editor and I

I used to be an editor and I can vouch for those huge bills. NASCAR is just too damn expensive to cover with a live body anymore. You know all too well the thousands of dollars spent every weekend add up. Blog people simply can't afford it.


And to think that two years

And to think that two years ago Watkins Glen Int'l, the track most despised by NASCAR media, built the massive "White Elephant" media center as an answer to all the negative comments about the ca. 1970 facilities from major media like the late David Poole.

Yes, the old building was useless from a people-friendly and technology-friendly standpoint, but their new structure came on line at exactly the wrong point in the economy cycles of NASCAR, the media business, and the nation's economy as a whole.

I think the "citizen journaist" proposal is much-needed. The web opens the world to far more viewpoints than does any single media outlet.

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