The Frontstretch: This Weekend's Mailbag Question Brought to Us by a Real Professional... by Bryan Davis Keith -- Thursday June 30, 2011

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Today’s Frontstretch mailbag question comes from ESPN’s own David Newton. Writing in regard to media availability in Daytona Beach, Florida, David asks “Is it OK to a cheer a sportswriter?” after Scene Daily’s Bob Pockrass asked some tough follow-up questions to Kurt Busch’s prepared statement that he had legally split from his wife and was seen celebrating in victory lane at Sonoma one week ago with another woman.

Well David, your question is clearly written in jest. Humor is probably the best way to pose such a thing, seeing as how it’s funny that you would characterize a website and their staff of over 25 people based on the actions of two individual staffers. But, we little hobby journalists over at Frontstretch take our job very seriously, and leaving questions unanswered is really not something we do well. So back to your query…is it OK to cheer a sportswriter? (Before going further, I’d just like to point out that the mere fact you’re considering such an emotional display in a public forum such as Twitter suggests a gross lack of professionalism the likes of which I’ve been called out for on numerous occasions. In the future, I’d recommend keeping such jokes to yourself…wouldn’t want anyone comparing you to a citizen journalist site now would you?)

The answer, David, is no. It’s not OK. Never once has Frontstretch ever condoned rampant cheering by media representatives in a professional work setting. The mere fact that your applause wasn’t spontaneous should make it pretty freaking clear it’s not OK. Besides, do I really have to point out that a well-respected (and deservedly so) journalist asking a follow-up question about a driver’s personal life is not the same thing as a daisy-fresh rookie driver winning the Daytona 500 for a historic operation in what could only be described as a moment of catharsis the sport had been waiting on for a decade?

With all of the media attention directed towards Cup drivers over the course of a race weekend, tough questioning should be the norm, not the exception…and certainly not a cause for applause.

The notion that someone who makes a living covering this sport would even joke about applauding one of their own for, well, doing their job, is vain, and that’s putting it politely. Kurt Busch got asked a difficult question. Why is that news? There’s no reason that should ever be news. There’s no reason that every single driver that has media availability week in and week out should not have tough, pointed and relevant questions fired their way. Will that lead to uncomfortable moments for media members that are at the track more often than not? Will that make the job harder to do? Yes, it will. That’s the job. Didn’t even have to go to journalism school to figure that one out.

Besides, in the grand scheme of things, Kurt Busch’s married life. Really? That’s the big story? Red Bull Racing is trying to find investors to stay alive and on track next year. Crown Royal is leaving the 2003 series champion without a sponsor after this year. Juan Pablo Montoya has made enemies with damn near half the field over the course of the last month. On the Nationwide Series side, three drivers within 10 points of each other are battling for the series championship. The controversial tandem-drafting package is back. And the question that’s getting attention called to it is the identity of a new girlfriend? That’s most certainly not a situation to applaud.

Sure, given the season that Kurt Busch has had this year, the highs of Speedweeks to the lows of the spring to the new high of winning in wine country and riding a wave of momentum that has seen Penske Racing the class of the Sprint Cup field the past few weeks, questions regarding his off-track situation are relevant. Being legally separated is obviously a big deal and something that will affect any driver’s mentality, whether they deny it or not. Picking up on a new girlfriend and asking about it is observant and a pertinent line of questioning. A clear example of a journalist doing their homework and their job.

So, to answer your question, Mr. Newton, do you applaud the truck driver that manages to keep his rig in his lane on the highway? Do you applaud the person behind the counter that makes your morning coffee? Do you applaud the toll booth operator that gives correct change? If you can answer yes to any of those, by all means stand up and give Mr. Pockrass a hand. If someone complains about the noise in the deadline room, just point at the nearest Frontstretch staffer. We’re used to that kind of heat by now.

Though why a professional journalist would need help with such a question boggles my mind, always feel free to drop us a line, or Tweet, should anything else completely obvious stump you. Just promise that if you need to ask for help about how to put your pants on in the morning, you’ll spare us pictures.

Contact Bryan Davis Keith

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Racing to the Point: NASCAR Has Its Own Heartbreak Kid
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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Off Week-Richmond Edition
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06/30/2011 11:58 PM

There is certainly a complete lack of respect in the entire NASCAR industry right now.

07/01/2011 08:45 AM

Wow. Someone sure is touchy on this subject. It was clearly a joke and had nothing to do with you. Rants like this, directed at a fellow media member, are what will keep this website from gaining the respect you clearly feel you are owed.

07/01/2011 09:33 AM

Media boys “Have at it”!

07/01/2011 12:25 PM

Newton’s snarky shot is typical of a “journalist” that is afraid to veer off the official NASCAR company line. It also could be this site’s spot on criticism of ESPN’s broadcasts is hitting home.

07/01/2011 01:06 PM

B.F.K A good article !!! Drivers give alot of time to all media but some questions are way over the top. In the instance of Kurt he should be free to give out what info he wants and not be asked for more.

07/01/2011 01:31 PM

Well written piece as always Bryan. Have at it mate. Have at it.