Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Swimming on the Internet

Swimming being a low profile sport, especially in the United States, doesn’t allow for much scrutiny when it comes to reporting news. Only a handful of swimming related media outlets exist on the internet. None are a part of some giant media conglomerate with extensive international circulation however. The largest is now probably Wasserman Media Group since their scope encompasses more than just the sport of swimming. That doesn’t mean the group holds high standards for its news reporting though. TimedFinals.com, a swim blog that is part of the Wasserman clutches, has been berated multiple times for directly copying content from the next most prominent swimming news source, Swimming World Magazine. While some information might come in the form of pre-written content (ie press releases), that does not mean it is acceptable to directly post it without referencing the source it came from.

I noticed that TimedFinals.com has a Site Meter link at the bottom of the page. I followed the link hoping to check out their traffic report, however that was not available to see. I did notice the list of top Site Meter websites though. It just so happened that number 10 on the list is a site for which I write, Autoblog.com. Autoblog.com is owned by one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, AOL/Time Warner. One can imagine that such a large corporation has something to lose if one of its employees is negligent with their reporting. Oftentimes news is reported in the form of a press release. For such things a brief summary with some commentary is constructed, then the full press release is pasted in the post italicized and the source is noted. All images are either captured personally by the authors or they are supplied by companies for editorial use. TimedFinals.com does not reference any sources for the information it reports. I agree that it is a shady tactic. Editorial posts do not need sources, however if you begin reporting information on major corporations or organizations without giving a source and your story effects the stock market for the day, prepare to take the windfall.

Swimming is definitely not like the automotive industry in that there are gigantic corporations whose worth can be affected by journalists. Perhaps it could get that way though, Speedo is a company with something to lose. I really hope to see swimming media become more significant. First people really need to clean things up and get it together with modern times. There is so much technical information involved in swimming and I don’t see anyone exploring it. The print media coming out of Sports Publication International (Swimming World Magazine) typically has some more in-depth articles, however their circulation is abominable. There is no way for it to reach the general masses or even general fitness enthusiasts.

This post was brought on by a couple recent posts on other swimming related blogs such as Tony Austin’s SCAQ Swimmer Blog and the Texas Swimming Blog. They are both gathering more and more attention with their content. I think it is a very good thing for the sport. I like the opinions that get expressed. I may not agree with everything all the time, but it creates debate which is a wonderful thing. I hope they keep it up as it keeps swimming more grounded.

Amazing, I wrote this post today and now it seems that Timed Finals has taken to noting their sources as this was recently posted: http://www.timedfinals.com/11122007/flash-swim-meets-can-make-money/. I suppose it is a start...

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