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Ducati to Cycle World: You’re a Bunch of Liars

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On Tuesday night we were delighted to see that American print magazine Cycle World had gotten a chance to sit down with Ducati Motor Holdings CEO Gabriele del Torchio, and talk about the future of Ducati, the upcoming power-cruiser, and of course Valentino Rossi. To our surprise, del Torchio seemingly spilled the beans about Rossi moving over to Ducati, and so we, like many other sites, jumped on the news and published it.

This article of course has surprised the folks in Bologna, who have released a statement saying that the Italian brand has not signed Rossi, and that Cycle World‘s article “misreported” the facts. This is of course Ducati saying politely that Cycle World made the quotes up, which regardless if it’s true or not, is a sizeable issue for motorcycle publications and their readers.

The issue at stake is trust: either del Torchio said these quotes, or he didn’t, which means someone is lying to us the public. If Cycle World did indeed fabricate these quotes as Ducati is suggesting, it shows a major breach in journalistic integrity. It’s hard to believe how such an important story being published by the largest American motorcycle publication did not go through some sort of fact checking procedure, either by listening to the interview tape or checking with Ducati Motor Holdings. Considering how often print publications like to tout their journalistic integrity over say…web-based publications, this is perhaps the most glaring reminder that the medium doesn’t make publication (there is a certain irony of course that the article was publish on CycleWorld.com).

From what we know, Cycle World did not contact Ducati for external confirmation. A journalistic faux pas, but still this however isn’t terribly surprising considering the landscape that’s formed in the motorcycle industry. Without picking up the phone, Cycle World Managing Editor Matthew Miles likely already knew the response he’d get from Bologna, which is the same response we’re seeing the Italian company hand out now: Ducati has not signed Valentino Rossi.

This of course doesn’t absolve CW from publishing what’s panning out to be an untruthful story, but you have to at least consider the fact even if del Torchio did make those quotes, Ducati would likely still have denied the story. This is because the trust has been lost between companies and journalists, and the default protocol to handle a damaging story is to deny it, whether it’s true or not. With a story like Rossi going to Ducati, which has been touted in so many publications as done deal (including A&R), a denial from Ducati serves only to weaken the trust we have in communications with the company, since so many people believe the truth is contrary to what they are saying, and thus see that denial as being un-faithful.

In this specific case with Cycle World, the truth would be readily apparent if portion of the tape where del Torchio talks about Rossi was released, but it seems no such quote exists. The last we heard about the issue was that CW would be retracting the story, although it still remains, along with a blog post advertising the breaking news, on the Cycle World website. Trust is something that takes a long time to forge, but only moments to break.

Ducati Motor Holdings Press Release Regarding the Cycle World Article:

Bologna, Italy ( 4 August 2010) – Regarding the recent allegations attributed to Gabriele Del Torchio – Ducati CEO and President- Ducati states that no agreement has been reached with motorcycle riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden in regards to the 2011 MotoGP season, although our interest in these riders remains.  The recent report which has appeared on the US web site www.CycleWorld.com has been misreported and is attributed to the many rumors circulating as of late.

If and when an agreements are reached, official press releases will be issued.

Jensen Beeler

Despite his best efforts, Jensen is called one of the most influential bloggers in the motorcycle industry, and sometimes consults for motorcycle companies, whether they've solicited his expertise or not.

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