Amy K. Marbach, BadGroove.com - owner/operator/editor-in-chief & photographer, BeyondTheFlag.com- staff columist
Who I am/background: I have been blogging for over 15 years. I started out on livejournal moons ago as a way to have my own little corner on the internet to keep an online journal and share things with friends who were no longer local to me. A couple of different blogging platforms later that little online journal where I talked about watching races occasionally (along with a lot of other stuff) morphed into its current incarnation as a little motorsports blog that has been lucky enough to be recognized by NASCAR as part of the citizen journalist media corp. Being recognized as part of the NASCAR Citizen Journalist Media Corp has given me the opportunity to write for other motorsports blogs as well- I wrote for a season for the blog RacingInAmerica.com and I now write a weekly column and occasional features over at Beyond The Flag (beyondtheflag.com) in addition to my own blog BadGroove.com.
Media Center = Work Room: The media center really is just a big work room. Most people bring their own laptops and have little mini offices set up in their assigned areas. People will be working on stories, tweeting, running back and forth between interviews and on track action. It’s like an office in every sense of the word. There is usually an area where press releases get placed in case you missed them or looking for a specific press release. These are out for the taking and usually also have press releases that may not have been distributed in the media center deadline room- these can be from specific teams, sponsors, track partners, NASCAR partners. I always like to peruse these several times a day as I walk pass themyou never know what you mind find.
A Black Sheep in the Media Center: I admit that I initially found the media center a daunting place to be. My blog is based on my opinion as a fan of a very specific driver of the sport and as a fan I have a very specific driver that I root for and my writings at BadGroove are slanted that way (I try to reign in the bias a bit for my writings over at Beyond the Flag mainly because I am writing for another editor’s site). Because of that I often feel I walk a strange line in the media center between media and fan. That feeling hasn’t left me completely but I admit that the longer that I do this the more comfortable I get and it has afforded me some awesome opportunities: I have interviewed Tony Stewart several times, Jeff Gordon once, and I got an awesome experience afforded to me by Ferrari North America where I attended Ferrari Racing Days locally and interviewed Ferrari NA CEO. I am not naturally an outgoing person- so I spent a lot of time giving myself “you got this” pep talks!
The most important thing to consider is that most people in the media center are traditional journalists who come from a journalism background. It is important that if you are at a track in a media position that you both look and act the part:
Dress appropriately (casual dress is usually fine however you will want to leave your driver, sponsor, manufacturer gear at home). Be sure you wear comfortable clothing and take sunscreen & hearing protection. HYDRATE!
While in the media center keep your cell phone on vibrate especially during the pressers- as you will not want to be the person whose phone rings during a press conference.
There is no clapping/cheering during or after pressers, or while watching qualifying or races from the media center.
While in the garage with a media credential you have to make sure that you are in the mindset that you are there to work- not fawn over your favorite driver.
For me personally- the hardest part of this is not flying my driver colors- it’s something that comes very natural to me as I have been a fan for most of my life (it’s all over my car, heck I even have a tattoo which since it is of a current driver it remains covered when I am at the track as media). For some people the hardest part of this is not approaching drivers for autographs and photos. You are not there as a fantherefore it is greatly frowned upon if you act like one.
If You Need Something Ask: If you are unsure where something is there is usually someone at a desk area of the media center (at least at the tracks I have been to) who works for the track that is there to assist you in whatever you need: whether it be finding your way to the driver’s meeting at a track you are unfamiliar with, letting you know the times of the photographer meetings or even finding out the wifi password in the media center. These people are there to help- use them!
Photographers: It’s important that if you are at the track in an official photographer capacity that you attend the photographer’s meeting for the track. They usually have several meetings throughout the weekend. At the meeting they will issue you a photo vest or flag (depending on the facility) as well as give you important safety instructions relevant to photographers at the track. Also it is important to remember that the same rules apply photographers in regards to approaching drivers and asking for autographs or photographs with the driver.
General Thoughts For Writers: It’s important to find and develop your niche when it comes to writing of any type but especially for your motorsports writing. Your voice is unique- it’s who you are. You may have different voices depending on what you are writing or whom you are writing for. As I mentioned beforeBadGroove.com covers a very specific niche as it is written from the point of view (pov) of a Tony Stewart fan. It’s a very narrow focus and that blog is written in one specific voice but since it is my blog I can take any liberties I want and cover a wide variety of angles and include articles and pictures from friends who guest blog or take photos for race experiences. For instance, I also do book reviews there for books regarding motorsports whether they be fiction, photography, biography, or anything else. I am constantly bombarded by pitches and press releases and because this is my blog I can pick and choose what I am interested in. This is not the case for everyone. In contrast my articles at BeyondTheFlag.com, where I work with an editor of an established site, I also have a very specific yet very different voice than my writings over at badgroove.com (this is appropriate because a stipulation of writing for BTF is that my writings be separate and original - nothing cross posted from what I write over at BG).
Here are some general things to look for in your writing:
Reread everything you write for grammar and language. It really does help if you can read things out loud. Try not to use inflammatory language or cursing.
Do NOT try to wing an interview. It will be a disaster no matter how well you think you know the driver. Do your research, memorize your questions and have notes just in case.
Make sure that if you do post online articles that you have permission to use the photos that accompany your articles. It’s not fun to get a cease and desist email - trust me I know (and the one I got was a misunderstanding as it was provided by a PR company who provided pictures and specifics for an article I published).
For stats- this site is amazing: http://www.racing-reference.info/ (bookmark it even if you think you won’t need it- you will thank me later because it will save you an amazing amount of work looking things up)
Know the difference between having an opinion and being harassing or abusive. It’s fine to have an opinion- it’s fine to have a not very popular opinion. It’s not fine to be abusive towards others who don’t see things the way you do.
Do your best to communicate with your readership. They like that- and it will make them repeat readers if you communicate with them and acknowledge them as much as you can.
Have a thick skin and do your best not to take things personally. <<-- This was big for me. You are not going to please everyone and some people are going to not be so nice in expressing their displeasure. Most of the time you are going to want to just let this roll off of your feathers as if you were a duck.
If you have any questions you can feel free to ask me: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can message me on Facebook (Facebook.com/14SHRGirl) I am usually on line a lot and am willing to answer any questions you might have.
AMY K. MARBACH
making dreams reality through motorsports