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AMERICAN AUTO RACING WRITERS
AND BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION
WHITE PAPER


August 1981
(Revised 2006)

Section I

  1. It is the auto racing reporter's obligation to report fairly, objectively and completely. The auto racing reporter’s job is to accurately inform the interested race fan (paying public) of the activities surrounding a motor sports event and responsibly support the sport, the promoter and the competitors.

  2. No responsible member of the media shall ever intentionally falsely report or distort. Although mistakes can occur, it is the responsibility of the reporter to insure that they have the correct information before publication. Any member of AARWBA found to be intentionally filing misleading, false or grossly biased reports will have his or her AARWBA membership suspended or revoked.

  3. An AARWBA membership card is not Carte Blanche for accreditation at any track. It merely identifies the bearer as a motor sports professional.

  4. Requests for special considerations (freebies, extra credentials, special parking) are just that—requests. There is no obligation on the part of the promoter to grant them and rejection should not affect the media member’s treatment of the promoter.

  5. The racing reporter should request credentials well in advance of an event to be covered - at least two weeks. More time should be allowed if this is his/her first race at a track or in the case of a major event - i.e., The Indianapolis 500 or NASCAR 350 at Infineon Raceway. If the reporter’s plans change and the reporter is unable to cover a race for which the reporter has requested credentials, It should be the responsibility of the reporter to notify the event promoter/track press officer as soon as possible.

    NOTE: This courtesy will ensure that the reporter/photographer may be considered favorably the next time a credential request is presented.

  6. There is no AARWBA position concerning "freebies," gifts, etc. It is a matter between the journalist (and the employer) and the promoter.

  7. Threats of a boycott by a journalist are no more ethical than threats of denial of credentials by a promoter. Both are intolerable.

  8. Food and drinks at an event are a courtesy, not an obligation of the promoter.

  9. Competitors at a major event have an obligation to their racing team, their advertising partners and the race fan to compete. Not granting interviews or posing for pictures is in contradiction of that obligation. However, a racing driver or team principal does have a right to privacy. Media members should use discretion when approaching competitors during times when the track is open. In many cases, securing a prearranged time with a subject can eliminate an embarrassing situation. Courtesy is the watchword.

    NOTE: In many cases the publicity minded competitor may approach you when he or she feels the time is right.

  10. Do not ask for credentials that you don't need. If you don't take pictures, don't ask for photo credentials. If you don't write, don't try to get in the pressroom.

  11. Do not request credentials for friends under the guise that they are to work as media members. It is unethical and creates a hardship to legitimate members of the media and subjects your publication or media outlet — not the racetrack — to legal responsibilities in case of injury.

  12. Accept the limitations of facilities. While it might be ideal for every media member to be treated equally, it isn't always possible and some racetracks must make distinctions. Not everybody can be in the pits or pressroom on race day at Indianapolis, Long Beach or Charlotte.

  13. Press members have an obligation to maintain reasonable standards of professional and personal conduct. Promoters have sound reasons for placing some restrictions on the media. Members of the media who consistently indicate an inability or unwillingness to meet reasonable standards of personal and professional conduct in dealing with track personnel, competitors or other members of the media will have their AARWBA membership suspended or revoked.
Section II
  1. The auto racing media person asks only that they have the opportunity to their job. To do this properly the auto racing reporter needs: Access to the competitors and information; Access to a location where he or she can observe the event, and a working space.

  2. While writers, broadcasters and photographers all have the same goal — to report the race. Their methods for achieving that goal and their needs vary considerably.

    Please note: This is already stated above

  3. No responsible member of the media ever will intentionally falsely report or distort. However, mistakes can occur and misunderstandings are possible despite the best of intentions. Usually this is in direct proportion to the amount of information available.

  4. Most media people work to a time deadline. Information - accident reports, causes of elimination, official finishes and etc, should be made available as quickly as possible. Withholding or delaying information leads to speculation and speculation leads to error. In cases where information must be withheld or delayed, such as a major on or off track accident, a preliminary report will suffice until such time as a report of the particulars (persons involved, car numbers and severity of injuries) can be released. This eliminates speculation and better serves the racetrack, organizers and participants.

  5. Given accessibility, experienced reporters can dig out all the information they need. However, the more routine material - entry lists, lineups, driver bios, series standings, finishes, and etc. - that are provided to him or her, the more time he or she can devote to interviewing and giving depth to the story or report. In addition, not every reporter is an experienced auto-racing journalist and, therefore, needs this material to do his or her job adequately. Rarely is there such a thing as providing too much information.

Section III

  1. The pressroom should provide a view of as much of the racetrack as is practical. It should be a separate facility, not the last row of the grandstand, nor a portion of the track’s hospitality area.

  2. The pressroom should be large enough to accommodate all media working on deadline. This is a serious problem at many tracks.

  3. The pressroom should offer separate working facilities for print and broadcast media. Radio reporters filing reports are a distraction to writers attempting to work. Similarly, noise from the print media equipment can result in the poor quality of radio reports.

  4. The pressroom must be restricted to working members of the media!

  5. The pressroom should have adequate electrical outlets and telephones or telephone connections as well as high-speed wireless or wired (preferred) internet connections in close proximity to one another. Virtually all major newspapers employ laptop computers to transmit stories; access to electricity and phone lines are mandatory The rule-of-thumb should be a three-pronged electrical outlet for every working space and a phone line for every three. In cases where two types of electrical power are provided, i.e. 110v and 220v, the electrical outlets must be clearly marked to avoid safety hazards.

  6. While food and drink are a courtesy, it should be remembered that —particularly at longer events— members of the media are not as free to move around as the general public. Clean rest room facilities should be available reasonably close to the press room area, reserved for the press (or press and officials) and not available for use by the general public

  7. If refreshments are to be offered to the media following an event, they should be dispensed in an area adjoining but separate from the work area. This eliminates unnecessary noise and distraction for individuals who still are working.

Section IV

  1. Radio and television networks doing flag-to-flag coverage have their own systems and requirements and should be handled separately well in advance. Also, they should be provided with the same in-race information that is available in the press box. Surprisingly, this is often forgotten.

    1. Radio reporters doing spot feeds during a race should have access to the pits and paddock/garage areas for taping interviews with competitors and officials

    2. The post-race radio work area should have several P.A. speakers so comments from the winner's interview can be tape-recorded.
    3. The post-race radio work area should be equipped with "voice coupler" telephones. The number varies with the number of people filing reports. A rule-of-thumb ratio is one such phone for each four reporters.

    4. Television sport news crews usually include two and often three or more people. Since they work as a team, each should be given the same credentials.

    5. Vehicle accessibility as well as personal accessibility is important for TV crews. They come with heavy equipment and have a need to roam to get their shots.

    6. TV cameras should never be placed on the same photo decks as still photographers. Their needs are vastly different. A TV camera moves with the action. It is not uncommon to pan right into the arm of a still photographer, ruining the shots of both.

    7. The interview area should have a desk or table in front of the interviewee for microphones and tape recorders.

    8. The background for the TV interview area should not include windows. They create serious lighting problems and can cause camera problems.

    9. Where coverage warrants, tracks may wish to consider installing TV lights in the interview area, eliminating the need for crews to carry cumbersome portable lights.

    10. In providing pre-race material to TV stations, remember television is a visual medium. Video taped or DVD clips help the story and increase the chances it will be used.

    Section V

      This section deals with information services that should be provided.

    A. Pre-race

    1. Entry list including car number, driver, hometown, car name and/or type.
    2. Time table of events
    3. Series standings and method of awarding points
    4. Thumbnail driver biographies, as available
    5. Time-speed conversion chart for the course
    6. Following time trials, a starting grid with the same information as in the entry list plus time and speed.

    B. During the race

    1. Top 10 standings every 10 laps or 1/10 of the distance, whichever is less, including the leader's average speed.
    2. Reports on accidents - who where, damage, injury, lap occurred - as soon as reasonably accurate information is available. Update as needed. If information is delayed, explain the problem causing the delay.
    3. Lead changes
    4. Cars out of the race, including when and, If available, why
    5. Driver changes, including when and why
    6. Pit stops of leaders, including lap and reason.
    7. Such other information as may be unusual or pertinent, such as yellow, red or black flags, when and reason why.

    NOTE: Where there is a press box/press room PA available, in-race information may be provided over it. But there should be hard copy follow-up.

    C. Post-race

    1. Complete finishing order with driver name, hometown. car name, make and model, starting position, laps completed, class designation in multi-class events, time and speed for as many cars as possible, margin of victory, summary of lead changes, summary of yellow and/or red flags, prize winnings and attendance.

    2. Series point standings update

    3. Quote sheets from the winner and where pits or the garage area are hard to reach from press areas, from other drivers and personalities such as mechanics who may have played a significant role in the race.

    4. A stapled packet of information provided during the race, preferably in summarized form (Reason: The information provided during the race can be used to direct questions to drivers during interviews, but the blizzard of paper can become scattered, disorganized or lost by the time the race is over. The packet provides it all in one package )

    NOTE: All post-race information should be available in printed form no more than 90 minutes after the completion of the event.

    Section Vl

    • This section deals with the post-race interview area
    1. The area should be open only to working members of the print and broadcast media— no still photographers, no crew members—(occasional exceptions for the crew chief or car owner when he or she is newsworthy)—no hangers-on. Off-to-the-side conversations are a distraction and frequently make it hard for the person being interviewed to be heard. Those not involved in the interview should be asked to leave. This is a serious problem, even at some of the best-run facilities.

    2. The post-race interviews should be multi-media only when the space available is large enough that writers and broadcasters (including TV camera and sound crews) do not get in each other's way. If facilities do not permit this, schedule separate interviews - preferably in separate areas. In most cases, the print media should be accommodated first since most are working to a deadline. However, this may not always be the case. Tracks should check with key members of the media expected to cover the event as to relative needs and announce the track press policy in advance.

    3. The winner should be brought to the interview area directly from the victory lane ceremonies. Other drivers (2nd and 3rd places), also should be brought if circumstances warrant and as a matter of course at the biggest events - Indianapolis, Daytona, U.S. Grand Prix.

    Section VII

    • This section deals with the special problems of still photographers.

    1. Photographers - particularly freelancers - are involved in more credential hassles than the rest of the media combined. This is a joint responsibility, however, photographers should request credentials far enough in advance thereby eliminating any problem in ascertaining their legitimacy and issuing appropriate credentials. Freelancers should obtain a letter of assignment well in advance of the event.

    2. Upon the issuance of media credentials, photographers should be presented with clear instructions; including a map indicating areas reserved for their use and those which are restricted to them.

    3. A primary concern stated by photographers is a lack of suitable shooting positions at many tracks. Photographer’s towers (or in some cases, photographer observation holes cut in the track’s protective fence), should be installed as close as possible to the racing surface at various strategic locations. It is impossible to establish a guideline that encompasses all racing venues. AARWBA suggests that racetrack operators and promoters, in cooperation with photographers who regularly cover their events, ascertain the optimum locations for photographer positions. This offers better opportunities to highlight both the racetrack and the color and excitement of the racing.

    4. Photographers also are involved in more hassles with track security people than the rest of the media combined. If Point 2 of this section is followed and security people are made clearly aware of the credentials issued to photographers and where they are permitted to go, the track's responsibility for these problems can be eliminated.

    5. Photography areas should be restricted to photographers. They should not have to compete for space and clear shooting areas with wandering crew members, members of other media, race officials or general hanger's-on.

    6. Photo stands in the victory lane area should be secured throughout the race in order to restrict those people without proper credentials from entering. Too often security people are absent from the victory lane until very late in the race. Invariably this is an extremely congested area where space is at a premium for working professionals without the addition of outsiders.

    7. With the advent of digital photography, most photographers now have requirements similar to their print brethren. That is access to adequate electrical outlets and telephones or telephone connections in close proximity to one another. A great number of photographers use laptop computers to edit and transmit their photographs to their respective publications. The rule-of-thumb should be a three-pronged electrical outlet for every working space and a phone line for every three. In cases where two types of electrical power are provided, i.e. 110v and 220v, the electrical outlets shall be clearly marked.