Working In The Media – A Paddock Insight
So, you've worked incredibly long hours, battled insomnia, made countless phone calls and sent emails to contacts over the past few months or so. You've received the accreditation letter that you've been waiting for to gain entry into the inner sanctum of the reporting hive of the motorsport world: the paddock. Bookings for transport, parking, accommodation have been double-checked and triple-checked, before it comes down to you to finally make your way to the track itself to report on the action first-hand.
Upon getting to the location that is where you will be based over the next few days, its time to get your hands on that "golden ticket" that opens the door that few have had the privilege of walking through: the media pass. However, part of the condition of being the accredited website or print representative of the publication means that you have to cover all session reports, practice and qualifying as well as the race.
This is where all focus has to be fully maintained, as from experience, anyone in the media centre will not be watching the sessions like the millions do at home via their televisions, official websites, or dedicated YouTube channels if the event so happens to be a live stream. There are timing screens, which provides all the usual information, including sector times, fastest laps and current on-track position. There are also live video feeds, which may or may not have accompanying audio to give you any information on other events on track.
There is also a location tracker screen, which will give important information from Race Control, reference incidents and potential penalties being investigated. But with all helping each other out, it can pay to keep your ears peeled, even when the unexpected happens in a split-second.
As with any race weekend, the teams and their PR departments have very tight schedules to run to, especially with the fact that everything they do is timetabled by the minute and second. So when schedules are made public to the media for the first time, it is best to make your plans around those timings.
Sometimes it pays dividends to make sure that any comments that are made by the drivers that are in the press conferences may help to provide content without having to approach them later on that day. This then frees you up to concentrate on anyone that may be available later on.
The Media Delegates should also be on your radar as well, because these people will be willing to help when it comes to finding out about particular events that may be unannounced during the weekend's proceedings. Always introduce yourself and have a good discussion and establish a rapport for the future.
Business cards are an essential for any reporter, as it means that direct contact is assured with those you meet in the paddock in future, as you will have worked together or discussed racing in some form. It helps to build bridges and is an extremely effective way of building your contacts.
Drivers and team principals are to a large extent your primary focus in the paddock, especially as they take the heat or get the praise, depending on what happens during the weekend itself. Make sure that when you interview those you've decided upon, depending on outcomes, that the interview has a clear structure. It also pays to make sure that you have all facts present and correct that relate to the questions that you have prepared, as well as ensuring a good flow of conversation.
Finally, there is the fact that from a different perspective, you can enjoy a new boundary that you've crossed over, especially as you are there in the thick of the action. This also includes relaying the work you have posted onto several social media sites, especially with working hard at the media centre being an achievement in a very different position than writing at home.
Realising the sense of what you have accomplished at the track itself is rather rewarding, especially as the experience gained will help in future events that you may be assigned to cover. And then it is all over, as the packing up begins and the teams head either to the next venue or back to base, as you leave the circuit on the Sunday evening.
The adrenaline has left your system, and the fatigue kicks in, but for those that live vicariously through the racing world, it is a drug that is addictive, and gives a new boost every time to those that choose to report on what they truly love...