At the risk of being similar to some of the content from this week’s Badger GP diary from Barcelona, I thought it might be worth sharing a view of what goes on in the media centre. The picture above is from Hockenheim, 2010 and as you can see, it is quite similar to Barcelona. Loads of screens mounted high up – but there is no commentary as there are no speakers. Once the race is finished, it will be re-shown, looping well into the night.
What’s interesting is that at a lot of circuits, you can’t see the track at all, while at others you get a fantastic view of the start. In Bahrain, for example, the media centre is located in the middle of the paddock, whereas at Melbourne, you can stand looking down on the startline, with the best view of the race. During 2010, my preferred approach was to watch the start of the race from the media centre, and then dash back down to the garage. Usually I was lucky, and the headsets would still pick up a signal while I was in the media centre, able to listem to what was going on on the grid, and report out to Twitterland.
The interviews that are held after the race are usually in the pit complex, and are not part of the media centre itself, so after the race, media troop in for the press briefing, and then go back to thrash out the stories of the day on their laptops. After about an hour, the first press releases start coming through from the teams, and from Pirelli and although it seems wasteful. most journalists prefer to have a printed copy of the press release. The most effective way to do this is for each team to walk round the media centre, giving each journalist a copy, or if they are not there, placing the paper on their laptop. This means that for each team, approximately 1000 sheets of paper are printed, usually on fairly heavy pre-printed stock, so the cost of air-freighting paper for three or four races begins to mount up.
Press releases are also sent electronically, but it is undoubtedly easier to scan a paper release for usable quotes. If more than a few words are needed, it’s quite possible that the journalist will then read the mail and copy/paste, but more often than not, the releases just end up unread in a bin. But coverage is important, so teams won’t risk missing out on an opportunity to get their name in the media.
Photographers are usually located in a different building, with no track view – as they are usually out trackside anyway. It also tends to be quite dark, as it’s important that they can see the details on their laptop screens. You also see quite a few different types of screens, almost like a darkroom bag, so that extra light doesn’t get in while digital images are being improved in photoshop – not in the airbrush sense, more in balancing exposure or burning in any under-exposed areas of a photograph.