SBD/May 15, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Minding My Business With AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer

Fryer strives to give her 64,000 Twitter followers inside access at races
AP national auto racing writer JENNA FRYER has seen plenty of left turns in her lifetime. The Charlotte resident and New Jersey native has worked for the AP since '97, covering everything from SEC football to the NBA before taking the racing beat full-time in ’06. The West Virginia Univ. grad recently chatted about Twitter’s impact on racing coverage, the unique challenges facing NASCAR and IndyCar and which magazine she calls her "Bible." 

Socially acceptable...
Twitter is a perk, but there’s also a lot of pressure. There are times when you’re a slave to Twitter. You really, really are. You find that you’ve got like 20 laps to go and you haven’t written a thing because all you’ve been doing is tweeting all day. It’s a great way to watch a race and to cover a race because I may be zeroed in on one or two different things, but another reporter may be zeroed in on another driver and they might be tweeting out things that you didn’t even know. I try to make people feel like if they’re following me they’re getting some sort of inside access that you wouldn’t have unless you were at the track. If I tweet something newsy I hope my followers believe they can take it to the bank.

The racing industry needs more of...
NASCAR needs good racing, that’s the most critical thing. They’ve got everything else -- the personalities, the rivalries, the drama, the track story lines and the audience. What you need is good racing to hold your audience. And I think they’ve really struggled with that for long stretches last year. You’d have these 400- and 500- mile races that were brutally unwatchable. I believe that’s why so much was put into the Gen-6 car, because it’s at a crossroads for the industry and the product has got to be great. On the flip side, IndyCar has excellent racing -- I would say they have the best racing of the three American series. I would say their on-track product is the best, but the problem is they don’t have the cachet and the appeal for whatever reason. The access the media and fans are granted is tremendous, but they don’t have the right kind of drama. They have all this self-destruction and shooting themselves in the foot from their off-track politics of team owners and the way the series is managed.

My daily media diet consists of...
I have an iPhone, so everything I’ve missed is stored right there. I look at that first (in the morning) and if something there needs my immediate attention via text or e-mail, I’ll do that. If nothing needs my immediate attention, I’ll check Twitter. That’s while I‘m still in bed. Once I get out of bed I’ll start going around to websites, looking at more traditional media. I spend some time each day on the N.Y. Post or Daily News websites. I’m just fascinated with that kind of news. I really like Gawker and Huffington Post because you can kind of figure out what’s going on in terms of all the trends and the buzz in short, digestible bites. I read Vanity Fair, that’s like my Bible. I always have one in my bag for airplane reading and doctor’s offices.

Technology that changed my working life...
The smart phone, it’s not one app. I’m totally addicted, not just attached, but it’s like God forbid you ever have to wait in a line or in a waiting room. If I don’t have my iPad or my phone, I might shoot myself. All the things I could be reading and catching up on if I had that device. Even at stoplights, you’ll look at a stoplight and I’ll do a quick scroll through Twitter. Just to see what I’ve missed in that last four minutes.

Out on the town...
We have Bobcats season tickets so we go to a lot of games and we try to do different things uptown. I have an eight-year-old daughter (SYDNEE), and she’s an only child, so she gets exposed to a lot more adult things. I find that we’re doing more of the lobby bar before a (Bobcats) game at the Ritz-Carlton, because I’ve taught her that the opposing team stays there and if you get there early enough you can see them leave. So she’s got a whole routine and considers herself a Ritz-Carlton lobby regular.

Form of relaxation...
I’m on the road a lot, but strangely I like to expose her to a lot. When I’m home for an extended time I generally take some sort of trip and try to include her in things. I covered the Olympics for AP last year and she came over for the final four or five days. And then we left London and went to Spain, so I try to expose her to a lot of things. I’m really active in her school -- I’m the PTA president this year.

Latest music download...
That’s not fair because I have an eight year-old. We are a very big TAYLOR SWIFT household. But my last download was the new JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE album. I love him. I’m so cheesy like that.

Can’t-miss TV shows...
"BREAKING BAD" and "MAD MEN." I’ve found more that I don’t like to watch them when they’re in their current run. I like to wait until they’re over and download them on the iPad and watch them obsessively. I watch them in like a 36- to 48-hour period. 
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