If this SOE piece is a catalyst for others in the press to man up and talk about their similar situations, it would be wonderful. I have read many opinions about this issue and a small group has the POV that the niche writing isn't journalism as we know and expect it from a newspaper or news org. That these cats write for the hobby, such as it is, seems to be how it's rationalized. It has made me wonder what exactly I should expect from a story served up by folks I thought were journalists in periodicals I thought were covering my sport. In hindsight, many seem to be writing for their advertisers or legals teams. I don't mean that in a snarky way, only to add that maybe I shouldn't expect more than I got. I'll take a Kimmage or a Walsh or a Lindsey any day, but none of these men are capable of reviewing the latest carbon fiber clinchers.
Column: Are reporters to blame for Armstrong myth? - The Denver Post
"PARIS—The memory from the 2003 Tour de France remains fresh—because it was among the more astounding things I've seen as a journalist. His collarbone fractured in two places from a crash the previous day, Tyler Hamilton oh-so-gingerly eased himself down from his team bus, step by wincing step, and painfully climbed onto his bike. He rode all that day, in pain so vivid he later described it as a color—electric green. And the next day, and the next 17 stages after that—thousands of kilometers to Paris.
Now, Hamilton confesses that his body was awash with banned drugs and blood transfusions, that the "feat" of his fourth place that year behind first-place Lance Armstrong wasn't the story of pure, teeth-grinding determination it seemed when I reported it.
What a dope.
I mean me, not just him."
This was posted just on SOE.
I would carry this cat's water atmo...
My experience as editor in chief of BIcycling (August 2010-present) is completely different from the one that Steve describes here. My focus--my responsibility, actually--is to pursue and publish the truth. That's what we've done and are doing. Sometimes this leads to pissed off readers and advertisers, which no one likes. But that does not change the mission. Rodale, the company that publishes Bicycling, has never wavered in it's support of our journalistic mission. And though certain advertisers may have tried to exert influence over our content, no outside forces have impacted what we do or don't publish on my watch. Steve's got every right to express his point of view, but it doesn't line up with my experience here.
Editor in chief, Bicycling
"Bicycling" was not/is not Journalism. It's ad revenues and light entertainment. The opportunities to expose or at least editorialize against doping have existed for decades. I don't recall VeloNews in any of it's incarnations, Winning, or anyone else kicking ass and taking names on the subject. Heaping scorn and derision on this guy's handwringing makes for good fun, but a little bit of his shit is on a lot of shoeheels.
It reminds me of how George Seldes often told the story of when he was starting out in Pittsburgh as a junior reporter in the teens of the last century. There was a department store and the son of the owner figured he could screw any of the shop girls because, well, if they said no he'd have them fired. Seldes being a young man about town caught wind of it, found one who would talk about it, covered the situation and turned in his story. The editor came to him and told him to type it up again, this time on carbon paper. Very unusual. The story didn't run but the department store took out daily double page ads from then on.
Juliet Macur? She is not one of Armstrong's favorite people, as I understand it. Might be interesting to hear what she has to say? NYTimes reporter.
I think during the height of Armstrong's "powers" the greatest influence on reporting may have come from cycling fans themselves. That's not supposed to influence reporting, but newspapers are a dead business model. They can't afford to get killed further by reporting on things NO ONE wants to hear about.
And I am betting that Armstrong and Co. Inc. LLP sent letters of veiled threats etc. to anyone who reported on what was potentially going on. Just like MLB during the height of the steroid era. Anyone who expressed any doubt, even with expertise or evidence to back it up, got immediately served with a cease and desist.
But basically, news is a retail business now. No longer the 4th branch of the government. No one buys it and no one reads it if it doesn't confirm their expectations for how the world works. Might as well just send out a Mylar mirror to all their subscribers instead of that expensive newsprint.
I am speaking statistically here. They us we me. Etc.
Yep and as I understand it, the rates Trek pays are based on the total number of subscribers. So imagine a reporter writing an article about Lance Armstrong in 2000 that began to connect the dots - what would that do for the number of subscribers? And then the rates? And as the money went out the letter slot, what about the inevitable legal bills?But Trek ads likely account for a bigger chunk of revenue than subscriber dues
I think it is hard to damn a system for not providing a product that no one wanted (not saying you are doing that - just the above made me think about which way the money goes.) And when Armstrong was winning, no one wanted articles about why that was a false flag affair. They wanted stories about jealous French guys and powermeters and the new Über-light Madone for this year's TdF.
Yeah, can I just read you something from Top Gear magazine?
Are reporters to blame for Armstrong myth? By JOHN LEICESTER AP Sports Columnist
Reading this it appears the Leichester is addressing their failure to take Lance down. But what drove them to beatify Lance in the first place? Yes, the Lance story was compelling but was it the only aspect in the sport worthy of our attention? There was a kind of journalistic laziness in the creation of the Lance myth. No need for a reporter to do any work, the Lance story told itself repeatedly. Hell, Lance told his own story for them over and over again. I still vividly recall Al Trautwig hectoring guests on the TDF broadcast for not wearing the Livestrong bracelet and feeling very creeped out by it. Once enshrined, Lance became just that much more difficult to assail.
...just to win a salami in ridiculous races.
How Lance Armstrong Is Like Lehman Bros.
By Daniel Coyle
I particularly like the way he refutes the notion that everybody doped so that leveled the playing field.
Here are two principles that I think would come into play for anyone who had to make the decision. One, while you want to get the story, you can't print what you "suspect", or what's "obvious", or what you "know". You have to source it and report it, and judging by what happened to people who did speak out, that wouldn't be too easy. Two, for any editor of a bicycle magazine, even if you think you've got something that you can run, the consequences might be not just losing your job, but putting your publisher out of business. The legal fees for even a successful libel defense could have crushed Rodale. They aren't the New York Times, budgetwise. So I think Madden wrote a revealing article, and I appreciate that he sets out the pragmatic reasons for his decisions and inactions without spending a lot of time prostrating himself and rending his garments, or saying he couldn't have done anything else.
By the same token, I thought Peter Flax's comment was a little disingenous. Flax says Rodale corporate never pressured him, but Madden isn't saying he wanted to take down Armstrong and corporate spiked the piece; he's laying out the reasons he as editor didn't want to write the piece in the first place. Which reasons, I suspect, would concern Peter Flax equally if he had been writing five or ten years earlier when the Armstrong juggernaut was going full speed ahead. Armstrong wasn't above criticism anymore by the time Flax became editor, and Armstrong was already under fire from lots of other outlets that had already started working the story.
I certainly don't love bicycle "journalism." I was an editor at Bicycle Guide for a couple of years in the early 1990's. It was a great gig that made a huge difference in my life, but you can't be in that environment for long without recognizing some conflicts, and from my perspective Madden's piece rings true.
Last edited by lumpy; 10-19-2012 at 05:09 PM. Reason: Clarity, or lack thereof.
I will tell you one thing for sure, I will probably buy every cycling magazine I can find for the next 3 or 4 months because I think the reading is going to be hilarious.
Probably not very accurate, but very entertaining.
This article's good, and the comments are gold:
Endemic : Red Kite Prayer
"Joe Lindsey says:
October 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm
Wow, uh, thanks? Between you and Madden, I’ll cite the old proverb: “With friends like these…”
You damn Bicycling with faint praise by saying we can’t be expected to do substantive journalism because we’re “just” a bike magazine while ignoring what the magazine HAS done.
You write, in part, “Any number of magazines reported on the broad strokes of ‘L.A. Confidential’…”
Bicycling was one of those magazines; one of the first, actually. I was the writer.
In June of 2004 I wrote a long piece for my Boulder Report blog on Bicycling.com about Lance Armstrong, David Walsh and the book, centered on the June press conference to announce the Discovery Channel sponsorship for the following season, and which had as a sideshow many questions about the upcoming book. It’s archived here:
A Tale Of Two Men
In the piece, I detailed the book’s most serious allegations; I mentioned Armstrong’s rough PR tactics, which included freezing out past associates and even suing a sponsor (Pearl Izumi, 1999) over a congratulatory ad for his Tour win that year because they didn’t have a separate image rights contract; I noted and linked to a 2003 story by Outside’s Eric Hagerman that spoke candidly of journalists trading objectivity for access (these were, I should point out, mostly reporters for European newspapers, not cycling magazines); I said that Armstrong made a nasty slur against Emma O’Reilly in that Discovery press conference by saying she had been let go from the team because there were “issues within the team, within the other riders that were inappropriate;” finally, I mentioned that some dude named Travis Tygart, then director of legal affairs for this obscure USADA outfit, had outlined in a memo a plan to amend anti-doping rules to allow an anti-doping sanction based on non-analytical evidence (ie. in the absence of a positive lab test). I concluded by writing that Armstrong’s performance at the press conference showed that his publicly sunny persona hid a dark and vindictive streak, and that his actions “turn former friends and associates against (him), with the ugly kind of ruthless focus on winning that is heedless of the human toll it exacts.”
Does any of that sound familiar given recent events?
Bicycling published that piece on the eve of Armstrong’s drive for a record sixth Tour title, at a time when more than 80 percent of the American public firmly believed he was clean (contemporary ESPN and MSNBC polls). And on the Boulder Report, which I’ve written since 2002, they’ve published dozens more stories about doping and Armstrong, Tyler, Floyd, Puerto, and lots more. The editor-in-chief during that 2004 piece cited above? Steve Madden. If he caught shit for that piece or others, and he probably did, I never knew. An editor’s job is partly to insulate his writers from that kind of pressure, and he did.
Elsewhere, in 2005, for Outside, I wrote a 7,000-word feature on Armstrong’s legal battles with Walsh and Pierre Ballester, Walsh’s publishers, Mike Anderson and SCA Promotions. I wrote two features for Men’s Journal on Floyd Landis and a profile of Frankie Andreu. What is a journalist other than someone who practices journalism – in whatever venue?
Your point about “endemic” magazines avoiding investigative journalism because of its potential risks conveniently elides that another publication in the category – VeloNews – for years employed RKP’s own contributor, Charles Pelkey, no shrinking wallflower he on questions regarding Armstrong and dope. Pelkey is one of the few American journalists to write honestly about Walsh and his work at a time when the most mainstream American media ignored the questions around Armstrong altogether.
So are we hard-hitting Woodwards and Bernsteins at Bicycling? No, not all the time or even close; this is, as you accurately point out, a magazine that’s about its readers’ experiences – which means a lot of service writing. Bicycling doesn’t “surf trends,” as you put it, so much as it does explain them. We cover all aspects of the sport that might relate to our readers: gear, fitness and training, nutrition, maintenance, travel, and racing; past that, almost any human interest story that involves bicycles is part of Bicycling’s editorial coverage. It’s an incredibly broad mandate, meant to encompass experiences from new riders to old vets.
Bicycling’s coverage of cycling also includes great journalism (as in Bill Gifford’s story on Michele Ferrari, still the only profile of Dr. Evil to run in any American publication, or David Darlington’s National Magazine Award-winning piece “Broken,” on bike-car crashes) and commentary. Just because much of that commentary goes online rather than in print doesn’t mean it’s not part of the Bicycling brand.
Real investigative journalism isn’t and shouldn’t be “the domain” of any particular kind of media outlet, large or small; print or video; physical or digital. NYVelocity has a fantastic series of interviews with people like Paul Kimmage and Mike Ashenden. And yes, Bicycling, Outside, and other mainstream outlets have done good journalism on cycling and doping, including Armstrong.
It’s fair to question whether journalists as a group should have done more to report the truth of Armstrong’s story earlier. But it’s simply not true to suggest that some very good journalists at cycling publications looked the other way, or that we should somehow leave “real journalism” to the big boys."
Sadly, the answer seems to be that journalists no longer exist.
At the UCI press conference this morning, McQuaid announced that they were accepting the USADA report in its entirety.
Not one single journalist present thought to ask "why then did the UCI fight so hard to keep the USADA from investigating or writing its report"