Bill Oursler considers the final edition of National Speed Sport News.
As I’ve grown older, my routines have become more set. On Mondays, for example, I typically get up early, grab a cup of coffee and begin to write a race report for National Speed Sport News, as I did right after Sebring. It is now a week later, and that report will be my last for NSSN. It is not that I am departing from the publication with which I have been associated since 1975, but rather that NSSN itself has departed.
The issue featuring my Sebring report was the final one in a history that stretches back to 1934. The reasons for the demise of this famous racing newspaper are at once both complicated and simple. The most important and fundamental one of course is the internet, the immediacy of which no print medium can match.
When I began reporting for NSSN, it not only covered events, but the business of motorsport as well. Back then a several day old story was still new and unknown until it arrived on a subscriber’s doorstep. Today, it’s “old hat” after just a few hours. In terms of delivery, the printed newspaper is an old fashioned train trying to compete again a high speed airplane. In short it is a race it can’t win, and because it can’t, advertisers increasingly have put their money elsewhere. The result is that the lifeblood of the print media industry has been sucked out of its veins, leaving it to die.
That is the simple part. The more complicated is the fact that that motorsport’s fan base is getting older. The younger generations have different interests, their love of the automobile dimmed to some degree by the perception that it is bad for the environment in its present form. Indeed, in the new world of the immediate, perception more often than not overcomes reality because reality often requires more than a few minutes to understand.
I will miss National Speed Sport News. I will miss working for it. Moreover, I will feel sorry for Chris Economaki and his family who which built it into the powerhouse it was in the sport. Most all of though, I will bemoan the fact that its loss represents an era in which simplicity has triumphed over the search for understanding the complex universe in which we live.
Bill Oursler, March 2011