GMM: still the bane of F1…apparently

I was chatting today with another blogger, one of my favorites, about F1 news and sources. We were discussing F1 news and sources and as we have had the same conversation internally at F1B many times, it struck me that one source in particular has been at the receiving end of the whip of criticism for some time. That source would be GMM or Global Motorsport Media.

GMM

There was a series of tweets from an F1 blogger today that named several other F1 blogs and news sites that use GMM and how to avoid them using a news aggregator of sorts. Fair enough. This person’s aversion to GMM is perfectly fine of course and, at some level, understandable. Far be it from us to throw stones at a person’s choice of F1 news sources and to be honest, I like the blogger a lot…seems like a nice guy. The tweets made me think about sources and in particular, GMM.

I will refrain from naming names of sites that use/used GMM as their source because it really isn’t germane to my story.

My question is: What exactly is the backlash and sometimes terse reaction toward GMM? That depends on who you ask. There is a recurring impression/fact that GMM is not always 100% accurate with its news and that the sources are nonexistent or suspect at best. The promise of delivering 10 or more original F1 stories a day is a punishing challenge to be sure—especially in the off season. Could creative liberties be taken to create 10 stories a day? Sure. Does it happen? Many say it does and I think we can attest that stories have turned out to be incorrect.

Does F1B use GMM as a news source? No. Have we quoted them or discussed a story they posted? Absolutely. Why? Because we are a site of F1 opinion. We comment on news and not-so-concrete news. We talk about outlandish rumors, stories innuendos and allegations. Have we commented on suspect stories out of Brazil or Germany? Sure we have. Why? For all the reasons mentioned above. When we do, we do try to give them context and add perspective — even if it is something as simple as discussing why the “rumor” might be out there or what could be behind it.

We are not an F1 news site churning out F1 news…there are plenty of places for that. We are not a blog pretending to be an F1 news site. We like to consider ourselves the blog of F1 opinion—albeit a blog containing 4 people with journalism degrees or working in journalism currently. That is a bit of a unique situation to be sure. We feel each F1 news source has its own unique position in the world of F1 news. Some are more speculative than others. Some have a penchant for being very precise and professional. Some make stuff up. Some are beyond reproach and as solid as any news site I’ve seen.

I think my friend said it best when he described GMM thusly (I am paraphrasing here): GMM may not always be 100% correct 100% of the time but they do carry stories that others don’t and it’s worth keeping a measured eye on. I couldn’t agree more. Just the same for Bild and other “questionable” outlets. They, like GMM, have been correct on stories that no one else has mentioned and many other times they have been dead wrong while floundering in pure fiction. You kind of know what you’re getting here folks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending or offering excuses for GMM. They can defend themselves and their work. I don’t like Speed TV’s show Pass Time…guess what? I don’t watch it.

We keep and eye on all the F1 news we can and it is purely to drive opinion and discussion on F1B. Other bloggers have asserted themselves as journalistic auditors capable of ferreting out suspect news agencies when they see them. Fair enough. Don’t like GMM? Don’t use them but the continual body-slamming seems a bit excessive.

It is one thing for the Times to question the Telegraph or AP over a story or source. They are giants and peers in the business but when bloggers engage in relentless attacks on news sites—what does this say? Knowing one’s place is important and F1B is the blog of F1 opinion. Not a news agency. Taking yourself too seriously can be a problem and that’s why F1B has never lost sight of where we came from, who we are and what we do. We prefer to be what we came to be; The blog of F1 opinion.

I have heard that GMM has ruined lives and made outlandish claims that have done irreparable damage. Well, that could very well be and there is a legal system for defending yourself against slander or defamation of character (see Max Mosley about it).

Is it a case of a few a news agencies actually generating the real news and a host of others, including blogs, rehashing the news for their readers? Sure it is. It’s the perspective, insight and product you create that adds value. If you are creating a value or quality content, the source is just a starting point to the product that is generated from it. Many blogs started with the intent of seeming like legitimate news sites. That lasted about a minute and then they quickly turned to other things or shut down. GMM is still here. They still create news stories. The Sun and News of the World do too and they also have their detractors. Why do they all exist if they represent the worst in journalism? Because people buy their product. Simple as that. Don’t like it, stop buying it.

Is that burying our head in the sand to the evil that is GMM? No. As a blog, however, I don’t feel it is our job to debase news sites for their process just as I was outraged when a major news site called F1B a “redundant news source” many years ago (obviously referring to blogs as that was the mainstream media’s name for us back then). Obviously they never visited the site or they would have known that we were not pretending to be a news agency.

There is the concern that it would seem nonsensical to comment on something that wasn’t true. That makes a lot of sense to be honest if you consider yourself a news site. F1B is the blog of F1 opinion and the nuance of a rumor or made up story lends itself to an interesting discussion as to why? What was the motive? Who thought it would be interesting to create a story fabricated from guess work or innuendo? What do we think about it? Even though it may be false, does it present us with any other idea that could make sense? Schumacher to Mercedes anyone?

There is most recently an odd notion that the Schumacher-to-Mercedes story is a license to lambaste Eddie Jordan for saying it. Why? That’s what Eddie thinks. Is he right? Does he have concrete evidence? Probably not but then that’s his opinion and is it not his right to share that opinion which becomes a story because of who he is? Are you new to F1? This is a sport born from rumor, hint, innuendo and allegation. If this offends you—don’t get in to politics or you’ll be suicidal. The world is not carpeted—you’re going to have to wear slippers.

I find it odd that this attack seems to have no end and it comes from many different places. Am I the only one who finds blogs defaming other blogs for their choice of news sources a tad heavy handed? That’s like arguing that your government-provided cheese is better than their government-provided cheese. Never mind that bloggers are reliant on the news agencies to deliver a large portion of their content. If you feel GMM is not a good source for your content; then by all means don’t use them but maybe we could rise above the rhetoric because the reality is—we all are feeding and, to some extent, feeding off of a system that produces content from multiple news sources. Yes, even Autosport regurgitates AP and Reuters news stories—oh, and even twitter sometimes. ;)

So here is to all the “suspect” F1 news agency’s…woot! You just keep doing what it is you do and I’ll keep not reading the stories and using them as legitimate news stories. I’m glad we can have that understanding between us and as always, we wish you the best and good luck with all that.

For us bloggers criticizing the hand that feeds and the ability to exercise our discerning judgment to vet sources for our readers? In the immortal and slightly changed words of Frank Z: Shut Up ‘N type your story.

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