Jessica Chapel / Railbird

The Invisible Industry

Several weeks ago, in a post called “The Invisible Sport,” Jennifer Wirth of the Saturday Post inspired a campaign to increase mainstream media coverage of horse racing. A worthy goal, but as the reaction to Joe Drape’s New York Times story on the the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation shows, it’s the whole industry that’s largely invisible, not just the sport.

Outside of Kentucky and New York, there aren’t many non-trade publications covering the larger stories of racing business and politics, and outside of the New York Times, almost none doing investigative work.

Vic Zast runs down the reasons for the lack of horse racing coverage in his HRI column today. All are familiar (fewer reporters, reduced resources, turf writers “captured” by sources), but that doesn’t make the problem any less an issue.

Wirth argues that racing won’t last if people aren’t exposed to the game and its stars through news stories; it also won’t last without press oversight, exposing serious issues and compelling change. Whatever the debatable flaws in Drape’s work, his reporting is necessary, and racing needs more of it.

3:15 PM Addendum: Writing on the Atlantic, Andrew Cohen reacts to the TRF story. “No matter who is at fault, no matter what happens to the TRF from here, please, someone, take care of those poor damned horses.” It seems like there should be a mechanism, some simple way to gather small sums for retirement funds — something like the Jockey Club check-off program, made mandatory. An an opt-in program, it isn’t attracting much support.


1 Comment

Thanks for the discussing this issue, Jessica. I appreciate it.

As for Joe Drape, I believe his reporting on racing is necessary and we do need more of it. He is one of my favorite writers. :)

Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer Wirth on March 21, 2011 @ 1:43 pm