Surf and Turf: Racing caught up in new post-truth world online

Racing caught up in new post-truth world online
By Robin Gibson 1:25PM 23 NOV 2016

Racing on the web with RPSunday columnist Robin Gibson

NOW Pokemon Go has fizzled out, the big thing is fake news. People are just making it up. And Facebook publishes it, if you can call Facebook a publisher. It's like calling a lamppost a publisher when someone sticks a missing cat flyer on it.

Look at it: Denzel Washington backing Trump; Supermoon collision fears in Southend; Piers Morgan culling moles with an airgun – who knows what else?

Racing has been infected. Cheltenham had to gainsay a ludicrous story about the track closing down until next year. That was compiled using breakingnews365.net, which is a site enabling you to "prank your friends with fake news . . . what are you waiting for?". Online media is in the realm of the whoopee cushion.

Mind you, anyone who lived in north London in the early '80s, when the council banned black dustbins and removed heterosexual romance books from Wood Green library – except they didn't, because all that was just totally made up by the old-style media – knows the internet is not the culprit any more than ink was then.

The web does help more widely spread the crud, however, and mistrust is growing, because we're in the era of ‘post-truth' (lying, really, you'd have to say).

Some less young readers would probably mistrust the internet even if we were in the era of the truth, the whole truth and so on. But truth is increasingly slippery.

For example, if you are part of racing's demographic (and you clearly are) and think you, and it, might be a bit too ‘old', don't check out the Vitality Age test (vitalityage.com) for the truth. Someone recommended this and, while it's quite interesting, it's a bit disappointing.

I mean, I know full well what age I am, but the test says I'm actually 61. Where's the truth there? Frankly it's hard to say.

Research shows there are plenty of Post readers to the north of 61 who know how to work our website – but you feel the adult sector struggles just occasionally in the digital age.

Take Newbury's site (Hennessy coming up, topical, see?). Now at newburyracecourse.co.uk, it has improved since the days of The Racecourse Newbury. It's almost like a complete about-turn. Also, the housing sales are gone. Still, they haven't given up entirely on marketingspeak – they're redeveloping the ‘heartspace' area around the parade ring.

And now they're plugging the Lodge (thelodgenewbury.co.uk). This is a 36-bedroom hotel with a bar, a choice of duck or microfibre pillows, and a hairdryer located in a basket above the hanging rail. I don't know about you but that sort of advance info is what sways my hotel booking choices. Seems to be full for the Hennessy.

Apart from providing the sort of slick experience expected of a top-class track for mature men and women, Newbury is going large on social. Not the usual discreet Facebook and Twitter links but a massive graphic block saying ‘VIEW OUR SOCIAL MEDIA WALL'.

Sadly, though, this leads only to a dreaded ‘404 page not found'. The link's got the wrong url. It should say social-media-wall, not social-media-hub.

Anyways, you can get there via newburyracecourse.co.uk/racing/social-media-wall/, and it's pretty good.

Also chasing youth is Great British Racing (greatbritishracing.com), whose site is exemplary, and not, as suggested here in a semi-humorous way a few weeks ago, the sort of thing nobody looks at any more. Just joking there.

Employing this week's #PriceOfFootball trend, GBR has produced a very short info-vid explaining how much cheaper it is to take your family racing than to the match. Apparently a typical nuclear family could attend Haydock last weekend for £27 while the footie will cost an average of £80. Also good at GBR is the commentators' guide to tricky horse names.

£27 sounds good, but six of us got into the 2013 Breeders' Cup for nothing by accident when our taxi took an unofficial route. That's the land of the free for you. With the election of Trump to the top job, it looks as if inhibition might be consigned to history (along with other stuff).

The new president seems informal, or even unrestrained.
Riding this vogue of non-reticence, but not in a bad way like Donald, is Stephen Power, @racingblogger on Twitter. If you're unfamiliar with Power, don't start with the tweet from Coral's James Knight who said: "Honey G is the Donald Trump, Brexit and @racingblogger of X Factor. Wins."

That is funny but unfair to ‘Blogger' as Power styles himself. He is inoffensive (although not to Jamie Spencer), fairly entertaining and does not indulge in cultural misappropriation. Still, he is, superficially, the kind of character who compels you to ask around if he is, actually, a bit of a prat. I did, but no-one seems to have anything bad to say about him.

It's unclear how old Power is but he appears to labour as a personal trainer and looks a bit musclebound, so the Vitality Age test will bring him in at around 17. Either that or 83. He has put #ITV on his Twitter bio, so it's safe to say he fancies a job in telly.

Unlike most folk, who might think about sending a CV or even a showreel, the elaborately coiffured blogger just does it, broadcasting daily morning lines, videoing himself talking to the people you can talk to if you just walk into the parade ring and talk to them, and tweeting prolifically. He has a carefree approach to tipping, a cavalier one to spelling and an enthusiastic one to emojis.

He's not scared of minor controversy either. In the past week he seems to have pushed the infamous but anonymous
@aftertimeansell into early Twitter retirement and got himself blocked by Spencer, whom he advised to "Grow a pair of bollocks and a sense of humour whilst you're at it". Oh well. An equally spirited Miss Blogger helps out.

It's amusing and pretty relentless and, while it may not always be rational, there's a sense of conviction. Less old people might like it. Note that he doesn't have a blog, as such. He's really a vlogger.

Power puts the hours in and believes "the bridge between reality and dream is work". Not so sure about that. I prefer to just go to sleep.

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