It never ceases to amaze me how inventive people are when it comes to writing “news stories” about Formula 1, or rather writing “non-news stories”. One site, I see, has written around 10 stories from the Pirelli wet tyre test at Paul Ricard, an event that had absolutely no value at all to anyone other than Pirelli. There were, of course, all the usual “he said”, “she said” stuff and in-depth analysis about sprinklers and water in the Var département and how it was all magnificently recycled, but it meant nothing for F1 and as such was not news. The fact that Dan Ricciardo is happy to be back in an F1 car after the holidays is not going to stop the presses, even in Marangaroo, although I guess the parish newsletter might have a bit of space available, after reports on the jam contest at the church bazaar.
Headlines like “Vettel focused on title, not opening race” are so nebulous that come February 28, I would’t be surprised if some white person at the Academy Awards doesn’t open an envelope and announce “And the award for stating the obvious goes to…”
And don’t even start me on the headline “Massa announces Pato to Chelsea”.
I read with wonderment this morning that Michael Schumacher’s kid Mick is going to race in India. So what? The guy finished 10th in the German Formula 4 Championship last year. That means that there are at least nine people who are probably better drivers than he is. He has always had very good material because he has a shed-load of money behind him and his famous name is the only thing that puts him the news. One of the nine, by the way, did only eight of the 24 races… Surely, should we not care more about David Beckmann or Robert Shwartzman (although I am not sure he’d be allowed into the Oscars) or maybe even Marvin Dienst, who won the German Formula 4 title, scoring three times as many points as Schumi The Follow Up II? And what about Joseph Mawson? Now there’s a story: he’s a Sydneysider, with Peruvian antecedents, who races (pretty well) in Germany (eh?). My view is that we should leave poor Mick alone and let him make up his mind about being a racing driver, before talking him into something he isn’t.
Herr Dienst, by the way, translates as Mr Service and he comes from the city of Worms in Germany, just up the road from Vettel’s home town of Heppenheim. Worms is a place that every schoolboy in the world should know, because it used to play host to the German Imperial assembly, known as The Diet, and hence was famous for the Diet of Worms, which sounds truly disgusting, but made me laugh when I was 11.
That is way more interesting than Mick Schumacher’s visit to India…
The F1 crash-tests are a similar story. If a team passes a crash-test, it is not news. That is what they are supposed to do, and it is only news if they fail to do it. Similarly, do we really care about what people who didn’t quite make it F1 think about the sport? Isn’t it obvious that they will try to sound like they don’t have a chip on their shoulders when clearly they do? There is so much clutter out there, it is a wonder that anyone ever finds any real news. The “what if” stories are also just a waste of time. What if Hamilton had joined Red Bull. Who cares? He didn’t. It’s utterly irrelevant to discuss it any further.
Today, the F1 websites are a shapeless jumble of content, elbowing one another for space. The job of a journalist is supposed to be to find some structure in this chaos, not make it worse. What is news? It’s not complicated. Is it new? Is it interesting? Is it unusual? Is it significant? Are people affected by it? If it is not new, it is not news.
Ordinary things (like crash tests) are not news. “Man goes to work” does not make headlines, although if the man is 95 and riding a pogo stick, it is news because it is unusual.
You know what they say: “Dog bites man” is not news, but “Man bites dog” very definitely is, except in Korea, where it is only news if the dog is uncooked.
Similarly, things are significant, based on who does them. If, for example, the Minister of Health says that we should all eat pork pies every day, that is news. If Donald Mackenzie of CVC Capital Partners says the same thing, we will all think he’s gone bonkers, unless he just bought a pig farm and is trying to get his proverbial snout into the trough.
The rest is just filler, endless word wadding to fill the gaps between the virtual ears of F1 websites that don’t know any better. The problem is that we are now all conditioned to expect this dross, like Pavlovian dogs who see a laboratory assistant and start to salivate, assuming that food in on the way.
Only salivate when you see the meat…