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Journalism – print first, think later

Posted on 2 May 2009 | 9:05am

Following on from yesterday’s rebuttal of the TB/AC anti-gay smear re the new poet laureate, I have another good example of ‘print now, think later’ for you.

I mentioned I was at the Sport Industry Awards on Thursday night. I mentioned too that I intended to do some high-quality name-dropping as a result.

If I tell you that I was seated between Ron Dennis and Tanni Grey-Thompson, that when Tanni went up to present an award, that left me seated between Ron Dennis and Michael Johnson, just over from Victoria Pendleton, that when I went up to present an award to Dave Brailsford, backstage I bumped into Jonathan Edwards, Sally Gunnell and Denise Lewis, not to mention Will Greenwood and Richard Hill, oh, and Nicolas Anelka, and that once the thing wound up I was discussing triathlon training with Jensen Button, who was really chuffed that Alain Prost and Mika Hakkinen were there, that’s quite a few good sporting names to drop. And if you have to look any of them up, you’re a sports ignoramus.

Brailsford, the supremo of British Cycling, was there to pick up the ‘Leadership in Sport’ award. On presenting it, I said to the audience that wheras there had been robust discussion among the judges over some of the awards, there had been none over this. Judges. Discussion. A clue that these awards were not thrown together overnight.

There were more clues. Ron Dennis, former head of McLaren, was there to get the final gong of the evening, a Lifetime Achievement Award. That was why Prost and Hakkinen, two of his former world champion drivers, were present. Now no matter how prestigious the awards might be, and with 1,300 people present a lot of Sport Industry people were there, I don’t imagine Prost, Hakkinen, or Dennis for that matter, would drop everything for another free dinner in Battersea Park. Nor do I imagine it is easy to get them all in the same place on the same night without a reason.

All a long-winded way of saying that even after all the judging and all the disucssion, there are then an awful lot of logistics before things can be made to happen.

So, to the offending ‘write now, think later’ item, in yesterday’s Guardian. I quote … ‘Dennis was handed a Sports Industry Lifetime Achievement Award in what is bound to have been (don’t you love that phrase?) a deliberately timed move. The news was announced little more than 24 hours after the McLaren team Dennis used to lead were handed a suspended three-race ban by the FIA, the governing body of which [Max] Mosley is President, over the “Liargate” affair and two years after a $100 million fine for “Spygate”‘ Why is it always a bloody gate? That Richard Nixon has a lot to answer for.

In other words, the award was cobbbled together at the last minute not to honour Ron Dennis but to get one over on Max Mosley.

But before committing to print, wouldn’t a few questions have come into your mind. I wonder, you might have thought, if there was a judging panel. I wonder who they were. I wonder when and where they met. The answer is February 5 at Bloomberg’s in London. The panel consisted mainly of heads of sporting bodies and organisations, leaders in business, ‘great and good in sport’ types, plus me. And the whole thing was overseen by the auditors, Deloitte.

Any of that would have been secured by one visit to one website, or one phone call to one press office. Oh well. Nobody’s hurt I guess.

As for Ron Dennis, deserved winner, a big loss to Formula One, and long-term to Lewis Hamilton I would think, probably more sinned against than sinning in the Gate-Gate, and almost certain to succeed in his new project producing a new range of sports cars.

Thanks by the way to Sarah Wardle for responding to myh blog about her yesterday, and thanks too to all who gave me dog’s abuse on Facebook and Twitter for saying I like cycling to Akon and Nelly Furtado. It gets worse …. my favourite running music these days is the Bee Gees Live at Massachusetts.

  • Carole Melly

    You really are taking the mick now. Akon … Nelly Furtado (I can just about allow that one) … The BEE GEES … what is it with you and crap music? Please please let me send you a selection of good music to run and cycle by

  • Mike Wheeler

    I saw that story, and had the same thoughts – would they really have just rustled up an extra award on the back of one event like that? I am a big F1 fan and Ron Dennis is a legend in our world. I think Lewis will struggle a bit without him there.

  • Gavin O\’Kelly

    I don’t meet many well known people who are in the papers a lot, but the two or three I do know say that whenever there is anything in the papers about them, there is almost always something factually wrong. Was is always like that do you think or is it just that the internet means they have less time to check anything? And if people can’t trust the media, and by and large don’t trust politicians, where do you go to find out what’s true?

  • Rebecca King

    Stylish name dropping, that made me smile. I have to confess that I would have to look a few of them up. Hey what’s wrong with the Bee Gees

  • Alan Hills

    Telegraph today says Hamilton was due to attend the dinner you were at, but pulled out at last minute in snub to Dennis. True? Or more print first think later?

  • Em

    So, we can’t even tease you about your musical tastes now? Sheesh… getting sensitive…

    Very disappointed in The Guardian. Very.

  • Charlie

    Compelling article by Nick Cohen hinting at the full hideousness of Brown and his ghastly cabal
    http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/1132/full
    Hat Tip: Mike Smithson