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Minter: Credible Information Gap Is Getting Bigger

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 23 2011

Chris Economaki always did his homework before putting out an edition of the National Speed Sport News. It was announced this week that TSSN will cease publication. (Photos courtesy of NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

I read on the Internet yesterday that National Speed Sport News was ceasing publication. I guess I’m just like most everybody else these days. I get my racing news online for free, but I also wonder when the point will come where those who gather the racing news just can’t afford to put it out there without being reasonably compensated.

Racing websites and news on the Net have cost a lot of us our newspaper salaries. It’s led to the end of publications like NASCAR Scene and National Speed Sport News.

Some might say that it’s just a sign of the times, progress.  But it could be that it’s no coincidence that declining interest in racing in general and struggles at many short tracks across the country have occurred during a time of dwindling racing coverage by print publications.

Of all people, it was a young Brad Keselowski last year who did the best job of summing up what it meant for NASCAR Scene to bite the dust. I’m certain he’d say the same about NSSN.

Here’s some of what Brad said about a year ago: “As a kid growing up in the sport, the Scene was like a fixture for me. My parents would bring that home every week from when they were at the race track. So even if I didn’t go to the race, I’d get the Scene.

“I grew up in kind of this middle zone, so to speak, where the Internet was just starting to come in…

“Growing up I relied on a lot of different sources like the Scene and so forth. That makes you wonder how the next generation is going to get their news from credible people, credible journalists and so forth. That scares me more than anything else.

“Naturally businesses are going to come and go. That’s the American way. That’s capitalism. But

A lot of race fans – and drivers – have viewed Chris Economaki and his publication at the racing bible.

what scares me is the top trusted media, the people that you believe in when you can read a story and know that they’re telling you the truth and know that there’s no bias, that this is the real deal, and to see some of those organizations go away is really scary for me.”

Back in the days when I covered short track racing, National Speed Sport News was the authority on that part of the sport, and all the others too for that matter.

In his column that was the paper’s biggest drawing card, publisher Chris Economaki called it like he saw it. And he was up to speed on all aspects of the sport. If I stumbled across something really interesting on the Southern short track scene, Chris would note it in his column, giving me and my paper full credit. He must have subscribed to and read dozens of papers to be able to do that.

It’s a tough day for anyone who loves motorsports to see National Speed Sport News go away, even if a part of it will remain in some online form.

The official statement from Chris’ daughter, Corinne, shows that it’s much more than a business decision.

“This is one of the saddest days of my life,” she said. “The sluggish economy has made it too difficult to continue publication, and no matter how I try to make the numbers work – and believe me, I have tried –it is just not feasible to keep the business going.

“For 76 years, since August 1934 when my father, Chris, sold copies of the first issue at Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway in northern New Jersey, to today – as I oversee the very last copy printed – this paper has been an integral part of my family.”

Mine too.

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 23 2011
4 Comments

4 Comments »

  • J Lynn Pflug says:

    My Economaki Story was a while ago but one night during Speed Weeks we were at the Daytona muncipal stadium for the midget races. The public address anouncer (who wrote a column for NSSN & whose name I can’t recall) was covering for Chris announced,”The Late Chris Economaki-” after the gasp and about 15 seconds he continued by saying that, “Chris had been calling the Sprint car races at the Tampa fairgrounds that afternoon and hadn’t gotten back to Daytona yet!” He was traveling by car, it was before the day of personal jets and InterState 4.

  • Norman Gaines Jr. says:

    You have hit upon the central weakness of What Will Be after NSSN disappears: the Internet is full of crap, to put it mildly. NSSN wasn’t. When NSSN said it, it was the truth because it was. Not just Chris: anybody who wrote for him. If you were a successful driver – and a young, arrogant punk – you got called in NSSN. Period. If you were a driver with a big name who was just stroking to get a paycheck, yeah, NSSN called you, too.

    Too many people rely on “the internet” for “news” today, and unfortunately they’re gullible enough to believe what they find. Even when it’s mostly unverified BS. That never happened with NSSN, or Competition Press either.

    Real news, from no matter what quarter, requires RESEARCH, and that means actually asking “people” real “questions”: not accumulating a lot of dross off the Internet and assembling it into a “story”, which is too often what passes for “Internet journalism”. After all, if it were the equal to REAL journalism it wouldn’t have its own title, would it?

    Goodbye NSSN; farewell learned, studied, inqusitive motoring journalism. Hello “John Stewart” standards and slapdash unknowing reporting.

  • Terrell Davis says:

    It is a sad time for print media. The internet, as Rick mentioned, has cost many great writers and reporters their jobs and, in some cases, their careers. For those of us who grew up with ink in our veins, it is particularly hard to see the major racing publications fade away….just like it was hard to see our favorite racing writers get pushed aside at the major daily newspapers because of declining ad revenues caused by, that’s right, the internet.
    And, yes, I also look to the internet for some of my national racing news. Having been in the news business for close to 35 years I can attest to the net’s quickness in reporting news, but I can’t always attest to it’s accuracy. I miss the in depth stories from trusted journalist…people that have proven media credentials.
    Fortunately at least some of the great writers are now writing for internet sites but I doubt that they can make a living at it.
    And time marches on…….

  • It is a sad day to see NSSN cease publication. I once had every issue from the first one as the back page of The Bergen Herald through the 1990’s. Publishing on a weekly schedule for as long as they did is a heroic accomplishment not soon to be seen again in the world of wheels. Chris Economaki’s weekly column was required reading for three generations of race fans and those employed within open cockpit racing. Chris Economaki had his hand on the pulse of virtually all that went on within circle track auto racing and served as this country’s most famed, and first national television announcer. We can’t cry for him however, he became wealthy through his ABC exploits and has enjoyed a memorable career unmatched in the annals of pro auto racing.