Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Strange choices, questionable decisions // Autosport side with one Lotus over another, but why?

Published by Mr. C

The meteoric fall in credibility of Autosport is as sad as it has been rapid. The publication, once held in such high esteem, has recently seen it's integrity brought into serious question and on more than one occasion.

The real Lotus are back?

Last month, employees from a Formula 1 team openly questioned the magazine editor, Andrew Van de Burgt, after he ran a contentious headline on his front cover, one that suggested allegiance to a single team - Lotus Renault GP. Concerns amongst fans were quickly raised regarding Autosport's ability to remain impartial in times of economic troubles, especially as the entire print industry struggles to remain afloat against a rapidly rising tide of instantaneous online news.

The situation wasn't helped by the decision to follow up the controversial front cover with a similarly angled 20-page advertorial supplement. This one-sided piece of questionable journalism did little to alleviate fears. News swiftly followed that Lotus Renault GP would also take a significant stake in Autosport's flagship annual trade show this month and use the event to debut their 2011 livery. This was to offer a timely boon for the show, which until then was looking to be something of an insignificant event.

All of which could suggest Autosport Magazine and it's various associates might have a lot to gain from supporting Lotus Renault GP.

B-grade editorial

Today, the quality of output arguably worsened, after the digital arm of Autosport published a news piece relating to F1's incumbent tyre supplier. In itself the article wasn't a terrible piece of journalism, but the accompanying video was provided directly by the tyre supplier and was published in full, in raw unedited form.

There are two significant consequences of such a move.

Firstly, the video supplied was primarily b-roll footage, intended to be intercut with additional editorial content, such as a voice over track or additional production. This would help make sense of the included shots. Uploading what was almost entirely silent b-roll footage, suggests the site cares very little for the quality of its output or for anyone who might try and watch it.

Secondly, providing video in such an unedited way sends a signal out to other suppliers, that Autosport are the kind of company who are more than happy to run whatever public relations guff you throw at them. No attempt was made to trim or otherwise adjust the content provided by Pirelli. Maybe the content was checked and deigned suitable, but the fact remains the video ran for its entire length in the exact order that the tyre company had chosen.

So who is calling the shots at Autosport in 2011?

As an avid fan and long time reader, I am genuinely surprised about the drop in quality of late. Once an organisation I held in such high esteem, it feels as though the wheels of credibility are rapidly coming unstuck from every corner.

Any individual with an internet connection and five minutes to spare can do exactly what Autosport did with their coverage of Pirelli today.

NB: Whilst Autosport Magazine and appear to operate autonomously there is a significant amount of crossover such that they can and should be viewed as one and the same when considering any editorial bias or otherwise.