JC / Railbird

Racing Archive

Racing in the DPLA

View of a beautiful black horse, identified as Double Trouble, and a man that may possibly be a trainer or handler; the man holds the horse's rein with his left hand, and is holding a large, fluffy cat next to his chest with his right hand
Double Trouble at Santa Anita (Los Angeles Public Library)

Depending on how you search, there are anywhere from 3,000 to more than 5,000 items in the Digital Public Library of America related to horse racing, such as the photo above, which depicts:

a beautiful black horse, identified as Double Trouble, and a man that may possibly be a trainer or handler. The man holds the horse’s rein with his left hand, and is holding a large, fluffy cat next to his chest with his right hand.

Because the web can always use more cats, more horses, and more racing, I remixed a bot at the community app building platform Glitch that tweets racing items from the DPLA. Follow along @racingpix.

2018 Derby Prep Schedule

Last Saturday’s Sham Stakes at Santa Anita, won by McKinzie, was the first Kentucky Derby points race of 2018, and that means the big Derby prep schedule and results spreadsheet is back for another season.

No Change: 2017 Multimedia Eclipse Results Stand

After sending the matter back to the judges, the “questions that were raised” about the 2017 audio/multimedia Eclipse-winning work, Barbara Livingston’s “Chasing Man o’ War’s Ghost,” published on Daily Racing Form, were deemed not to warrant a disqualification. The Eclipse Awards steering committee released a statement on Sunday that this year’s award results would stand.

The full statement regarding the decision is on the NTWAB site:

The Eclipse Awards Steering Committee on Wednesday, January 3 became aware of a question regarding the winning entry submitted by Daily Racing Form (DRF) in the Audio Multi-Media and Internet Category.

Steering Committee members representing the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) and National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) — DRF representatives on the Steering Committee recused themselves — determined that the question merited contacting the judges in the Audio Multi-Media and Internet category who had awarded points to the entry to determine if this new information would cause them to change their votes. The judges replied that the new information would not have impacted the way they voted or changed the order in which they voted. Thus, there will be no change involving the winning entry in this Audio Multi-Media and Internet Category.

As it does every year, the Steering Committee will undertake a rigorous review of the Eclipse Awards Media Rules to determine if any changes should be made with regard to the 2018 Media Eclipse Awards.

A few observations:

1) By their own description of the review process, the Eclipse Awards steering committee largely dodged the eligibility question regarding the winning entry. The 2017 Livingston multimedia work contained almost the entirety of a 2010 Man o’ War blog post written by Livingston, also published on DRF, and there was no notice on the 2017 piece of the 2010 text’s inclusion. The decision about how to handle the situation was handed over the judges (the judges who had initially given the Livingston entry points, that is, not the full panel).

2) And yet, the statement does acknowledge: “The entry, taken as a whole, was published for the first time between those dates. Portions of the entry were not, as pointed out in the questions that were raised.” In recognizing that portions of the work were not published in 2017, the year covered by the award, and stating that the inclusion of an original video is what qualified the entry for the audio/multimedia category, the steering committee has staked out an untenable position: Previously published work that includes a new video is eligible for the award. The entry does not have to be wholly original.

This is bad precedent, and I don’t see how the rules for this category don’t get altered to prevent future entries taking advantage of such a loophole.

3) In the meantime, how was the judging process then fair to the other people and organizations who entered work in the audio/multimedia category? If I were one of the entrants (and I’m not/wasn’t), I would feel demoralized and alienated by this decision to allow unattributed previously published material in the winning entry. It’s a slap in the face to others who followed the spirit — and the apparent meaning — of the award rules.

4) Incidentally, the situation points up the ongoing folly that is combining audio and multimedia into one Eclipse award category. The award rests on multimedia containing an audio element. Video is allowed to fulfill the audio requirement, which means that video then becomes synonymous with multimedia. This is such a barren view of digital possibilities. If the multimedia award is going to be for a video, then better to group audio and video into one category and create a new, standalone multimedia category that allows for any combination of media. Think of the potential! Data viz + audio. Video + social storytelling + text. It could spur some fresh work.

5) Finally, I’ll add that I’m disappointed DRF and Livingston did not acknowledge the questions, or the appearance of an ethical issue, or explain the editorial policy that may have allowed what appears to have happened. It does not look high-minded to have remained quiet. It looks arrogant.

Putting Up the Inquiry Sign

12:50 PM: This post has been edited to include a response from DRF regarding the 2010 Man o’ War piece.

It has been four days since it was announced the Daily Racing Form won a 2017 Eclipse Multimedia Award for a piece primarily created by photographer Barbara Livingston, and four days since I pointed out the apparent reuse of a 2010 blog post about Man o’ War by Livingston in the 2017 multimedia piece. In that time, the DRF has made no comment about the award situation. The Eclipse Awards steering committee is discussing the matter.

A sidebar to the question of the recycled text is the related question of what happened to the 2010 post. It was originally published on October 21, 2010, and the live page was captured by the Internet Archive on December 29, 2015. There is some uncertainty about its accessibility from that time to January 3 of this year — the original URL returned an “Unauthorized” message when I attempted to view it on January 3. The Internet Archive captured an “Access Denied” version of the page on October 2, 2017. I retrieved a version of the post on January 3 from what appeared to be a DRF subdomain page, at this URL, for the purpose of comparing the 2010 and 2017 texts. On January 4, and possibly the evening of January 3, the 2010 post was appearing once again at its original URL.

Other people reported a similar experience, and Chris Rossi summed up the URL’s history in two tweets:

(If you cannot see Rossi’s tweets above this text, you can view a screenshot of his tweets or click to view the tweets on Twitter.)

Odd, but there are numerous reasons a URL might seem to be go missing on the web — Google and Internet Archive take irregular snapshots — and the possible range of time the page may have been inaccessible could not be pinned down using either service.

On Saturday, I received two screenshots taken in March 2017. I have examined the EXIF data of the original files and believe both to be unaltered and to have been created on the dates and times I was given. The images below have been cropped and saved by me to remove potentially identifying information.

The first image shows the 2010 page as cached by Google on March 21, 2017. To be cached, the page would have been live, and accessible, on that date:

A screenshot of the March 21, 2017 Google cache version of the 2010 Man o' War post page on DRF

The second image is a cropped screenshot of a Livingston DRF blog page. The original screenshot was taken on the morning of March 25, 2017. The October 21, 2010 Man o’ War piece is not listed between the bookending posts on October 13, 2010, and October 26, 2010 — both of which, subjected to the same search methods as applied to the October 21, 2010 post, do not give indications of being inaccessible during the same period as the 2010 Man o’ War post appears to have been:

A screenshot of an index page on Barbara Livingston's DRF blog that shows the October 21, 2010 Man o' War post missing from the page on March 25, 2017

The third image is a cropped screenshot of the same Livingston DRF blog page. This screenshot was created by me on the morning of January 7, 2018. You can see that the October 21, 2010 post appears on the page:

A screenshot of an index page on Barbara Livingston's DRF blog that shows the October 21, 2010 Man o' War post present on the page on January 7, 2018

The 2017 multimedia piece was published on DRF on March 24, 2017.

I want to caution — there are many technical and production-related reasons why the 2010 Man o’ War post may have been inaccessible for a time. DRF underwent a major redesign in 2013. All of the DRF blogs were unavailable on the site for a lengthy period. DRF has made several changes to its paywall, including dropping it before the Breeders’ Cup, which could have affected the accessibility of pages, as well as made updates to other backend systems.

Whatever may have happened, it’s an unfortunate coincidence in light of the 2017 multimedia piece winning an Eclipse award.

Edited to include DRF’s response: Asked for comment about what may have happened to the 2010 post, DRF’s Mandy Minger replied:

DRF’s editorial team looked into it and can’t determine how it became unpublished. We believe it possibly happened inadvertently during some backend changes to the site. We didn’t intend to unpublish the original blog and republished it after it was brought to our attention. DRF does not typically remove old editorial content from its site.

The reply is appreciated — without addressing the question, the post’s apparent unpublishing/republishing was feeding a shady perception.

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