There are hundreds of websites dedicated to Formula One and thousands of blogs too. Millions of fans and everyone is an expert, right? So what gives me the right to call myself an expert? Well, first of all, I never pretended to be something I am not. I have never said that I am an expert or that I know more about the sport, than the very hard-working journalists, who are working around the clock to deliver the news as fast, and as objective as possible. Look at Joe Saward´s blog, take a gander over at James Allen. Several TV pundits have a Twitter profile or Facebook page, so the news are out there, literally while they happen.
This article is about a couple of things. Firstly it is a personal account on some recent events, and secondly, it is a kind of explanation to the people who believe that I have done something wrong. Don´t be fooled, though. I have never and will never apologize to anyone, if I try to tell the truth. I might use different words than the big players, I may use a different language, jargon. I might leave out certain bits, not deliberately, but perhaps because I simply could not get the information I needed, or the article was published before I got the quote I needed.
Also, and this is important for me to emphasize. I am not on the ground where it happens. I am not attending the races, nor am I talking to team bosses all the time or have the driver´s phone numbers on speed dial. But that doesn´t mean I have nothing to say, or doesn´t know my stuff. I am not trying to be something I am not, in fact I keep repeating it from time to time, so that you, the reader, know exactly what you get. I could easily point my fingers at several websites, very large ones in fact, which never visits the races or do anything else, but to sit at a desk and make phone calls. I do that too.
Last week a website revealed that Group Lotus´owner Proton, gave a large loan to the Lotus F1 team. They showed confidential documents and Gerard Lopez said that “the obligations of Lotus have been terminated.” This is pretty much accurate, word by word, written on the website in question. And this is where they stopped being journalists/reporters, and started being bullies. Again.
The website in question has a long-standing feud with a trained and professional journalist, Joe Saward, who has been working inside F1 for more than 20 years. He has attended hundreds of races, in fact I think he has visited every single race since he started. Of course, you have to ask him about it. You can like Joe Saward or not, that´s entirely up to you, and I am sure that he feels the same way about you. He is doing what he does, because he is one of just a couple of handfuls of journalists, who can actually do what he does, full-time. And he is very good at what he does. So are Adam Hay-Nicholls, and Lee McKenzie. Gregory Haines from GPUPdate.Net and many more. Wonderful people and good reporters.
However, I have suddenly appeared on the website´s radar, because of the documents I talked about before. See, the website, which is Pitpass, made a lot of noise of the fact, that they had confidential documents and that they where the first to reveal everything. As they have a very irritating tendency to do. In fact, if you read the articles on Pitpass, you see that they make a huge effort in letting you know, that they have a business editor called Christian Sylt. You know him from The Guardian, Autosport magazine, the Evening Standard, Daily Telegraph and The Independent on Sunday. And don´t get me wrong, Sylt is really a proper journalist, I have nothing but respect for him. It´s not directed against him, but I am trying to paint a picture here. The way Pitpass continuously reminds us, how they have revealed this or that, and how they have a business analyst called Christian Sylt and how everyone is queuing up outside their offices to reveal all the dirty secrets from the world of F1 is just getting old.
I haven´t got a problem with this. Not at all. I am but a humble little blogger, with a mere 20 years experience in doing this, like it or not. However, when this big and shiny website points their fingers at people like me, calling my blog scurrilous simply because it turned out that they were not the only the only one with these documents, I feel a need to respond to them. Here are the facts:
They posted their article on April 9. They had received these documents from a source, made the article and revealed details about the Proton loan and much more. However, I am not the only one receiving documents. I also sat on these juicy documents. My source sent them to me, I saved them onto my external harddrive and in the meantime read the article on Pitpass. To make sure I had the same documents, I then visited the Pitpass article and right-clicked on the links to the documents, saved them too. Unfortunately, when I made my article on April 12, while uploading the links to the documents, I accidentally uploaded theirs, meaning it had their file names on it.This of course, is a mistake. But the documents are the same, no matter if I got them from my source or if I clicked on them on Pitpass´ site. The said that I appropriated them, which in a way is true. Someone sent them to me, yes. If I didn´t receive them, but wanted to make an article about them, I could easily just right-click on them on the Pitpass website. It doesn´t make a difference.
I know that Chris Balfe is reading this, because he contacted me on the 12th, asking me how I got the documents. And as always I never reveal a source. Never. But it leads me back to the beginning.
I am not trying to defend other blogs or websites in this article, I am not trying to get sympathy, because this big, bad website is after me, nor am I trying to point fingers at anyone, simply because I feel stepped on. I don´t. But when a website such as Pitpass, which is big and very, very good – SOMETIMES – degrades themselves this way and is calling me out, simply because they thought that they are the only ones with the truth, I do what I can to hang them out to dry.
Their comment is, in full: “We followed up our revelation about the loan by publishing the actual loan documents which were subsequently appropriated by a more scurrilous website claiming that they are “confidential” and “leaked”. I am happy to have been mentioned on their website, I am proud that they felt the need to spend time away from all the breaking news stories happening around them, to write about my little ‘website’, which is a blog. Pitpass is using the words “revealed” and “confidential” all the bloody time, and as I said before, it´s getting old. But when a scurrilous little blog starts to use the same description the authors of the original article used, then all hell breaks loose.
I could not care less what Pitpass is thinking right now, or if they are spending time mentioning me in an article. I honestly don´t. But Pitpass is grossly underestimating the power of blogs, one great example is The New York Times´ Brian Stelter. He ran TVNewser, blogging about TV news industry and usually had the story before anyone else. As a result, The New York Times hired him in 2007.
I receive hundreds of emails a week, from fans, readers, tv people, F1 people. I speak to sources, I speak to the teams directly and do what I can. I am not a trained or educated journalist, I simply write a blog. Don´t like it, fine. Hate me, no problem. But calling me out like that is not cool. Especially if you´re Pitpass.