Ping! The latest Cyclingnews Podcast drops into my podcatcher. The show-notes tell me that I’m in for a rare treat…an exclusive interview with Alberto Contador talking about the Giro win. Oh joy. And an interview with Chris Froome talking about winning the Tour. I can hardly wait.
You see, it’s all about “content churn”, the endless 24-hour news cycle that bombards us with content, if not actual news. The Publisher told them they had to produce a podcast — everyone else has got one, so we need one. Of course there are no extra resources available, so the churnalists have to throw something together, on top of producing content for the site and the print edition. We churnalists can’t worry about the quality, no time for that, it’s all about the quantity. Churn churn churn. More hits, more clicks, more downloads, more advertising revenue. Anyway, it’s digital innit…here today, gone tomorrow.
And rider interviews are perfect for this. Sit them down in front of a microphone, offer them the opportunity to big-up their team, thank their sponsors and offer up the usual platitudes, and everybody is happy. The churnalists aren’t going to rock the boat by asking anything tricky, because look what happened during the Armstrong era…the dreaded black book (a black-list of journalists Armstrong would not talk to). No access is bad news for churnalists, so keep it bland, let them waffle, and there’s 10 minutes filled, right there.
So back to episode 11 of the Cyclingnews Podcast, where Daniel Benson, Ed Pickering and Patrick Fletcher kick off with a chat about starting the Giro in Japan (silly, but fun for all the journalists out there on expenses), cycling brothers, how we all love an unrepentant doper (Rebellin) simply because he refuses to go away, and TUEs. All of which is quite interesting stuff. Then there’s a plug for Pro Cycling mag, along with the astonishing (and thoroughly shameful) admission that this latest issue is only the second time they’ve put a solo female cyclist on the cover. Really? WTF have they been doing there? Welcome to the 21st Century, boys.
After 20 minutes of moderately interesting chat we have the Chris Froome interview. So fast-forward from 20’45” to 28’35” because there is nothing new here. It can be summed up thusly: I won the tour, some people booed me, other people didn’t, some people thought I was doping, other people didn’t, I don’t dope, one day I’ll release my biological data (once the Sky boffins have confirmed that it won’t damage me in any way).
This is followed by some interesting chat about Alberto’s legacy and an exclusive interview with Alberto Contador at their recent training camp, where he appears to have been tasked with doing the washing up at the end of lunch. This is podcasting gold! Seriously. Clatter, clank, mumble, clink, Giro, splosh, mumble, clunk, attack heeem, clatter, clink, Mortirolo weeen, tinkle, clank, Astana, splish, clonk, clank, jingle, splish, mumble.
Next week they will (probably) be interviewing Vincenzo Nibali while he puts up some shelves round at his Gran’s house, and chatting to Dave Brailsford while he does some Hoovering. This is the way forward for interviews, I’m sure of it. I only wish Jon Snow had interviewed Seb Coe while Coe was down the bank transferring his money to the Caymen Islands.