Horse Racing

Facebook is a secondary, not primary, news source

Gregg Doyel of has made a crusade against Twitter, and I cannot say I blame him. What is Twitter other than 140 characters of bumbling idiocy masquerading as “tweets?”

Okay, I have a Twitter account, or had, not sure anymore. I beat the fad by six months because a friend asked me to set up an account. I never used it. I’m not a hypocrite.

But for all Twitter is, it serves its purposes. It promotes news sources and the like, and blah, blah, blah.

Yet, what is Facebook? A news service? Please! Never! Who would think of breaking a news story on Facebook?

Well, other Stephane Chevalier.

You have never heard of Chevalier; don’t kid yourself. He’s not that noteworthy of an individual.

Chevalier is the assistant horse trainer to Saudi-based Jerry Barton, who, according to, is the private trainer for Prince Sultan Al Kabeer and King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

What better way for an obscure assistant trainer to get some notoriety than to break a news story on Facebook?

Pat Cummings, who runs, wrote “Big City Man, winner of the 2009 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) died this week following a workout at Hollywood Park in California, reported his former assistant trainer Stephane Chevalier, via Facebook.”

That made me vomit.

Not just because a great champion horse has passed on, but because the assistant trainer, nay, former assistant trainer did not offer enough respect for the horse to at least bring it to a conventional news source.

Facebook? To announce the death? Of a champion?

Call me old-fashioned, but that just is not right. It’s not even close to right.

Just think of the precedent this could set.

Imagine if Hank Steinbrenner, sick of Joe Girardi, decided to axe the New York Yankees’ manager on Facebook?

Who needs the expense of a press conference when you can post a note on a site that’s main colors are blue and white anyway, the same as the Yankees.

Or, imagine, without laughing, if Congress casted all its votes on Facebook. Create a closed group and each member could cast his vote from his living room. Then the speaker could go over to Twitter and post the “Aye” and “Nay” count.

Actually, that’s not a bad idea; it would save our country thousands in electricity bills.

And while we’re at it, maybe we can vote in all our elections on Facebook and skip having to tune into CNN to see the results.

Facebook, after all, is now apparently for news release.

Am I making too big of a deal about this? Yeah, sure, I can see that.

But still, is this really what we want?

Facebook is supposed to be a social tool to help people meet and interact with their friends. It has grown into being a tool to meet people with similar interests, including professional interaction.

What it was never meant to be and, until now at least, has never been utilized as, was a source to announce pertinent information to the world.

The death of a champion race horse, at least so it seemed, had been a solemn enough event to reserve announcement to the established media.

But like Big City Man, that respect has died today.

We are now moving into unchartered territory, to steal the cliché, where news is at our fingertips, to steal another cliché. All we need is a Twitter account and a Facebook account, and we know everything.

Just in the past two weeks, for instance, I learned of Michael Jackson’s passing on Facebook and Billy Mays’s passing on a chatroom while watching Frasier on (call me a nerd; I don’t care).

Even going back a couple months, Facebook was where I learned of the death of champion pacer Maltese Artist in May and former Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro in 2007.

But with each of those deaths, there was one major difference: some normal source announced it first.

Michael Jackson’s doctor did not go online and post a Tweet about the singer’s passing; besides being illegal, that would have just been sick.

Billy Mays’s wife did not go on Facebook and update her status to reflect where her prayers were.

Imagine, just for a moment, how that would have been?

Facebook is not meant to be an organ to release news, especially to announce a death.

Just in horse racing, there are a dozen places where you can take that story and give it the respect it deserves.

Sure, maybe Chevalier did not want this to get a lot of news, but I doubt it. Why would the former assistant trainer of a champion horse post something on Facebook if he did not want it to get out to the public?

Obviously, if that were the intent, it failed.

The intent must have been to publicize it further, and Chevalier has achieved his goal.

Pat Cummings wrote about it and now I have too.

But it’s still wrong.

The horse deserved more than just a Facebook memorial; the horse deserved a lot more.

So Rest In Peace, Big City Man. I’m sorry we could not see you sprint to a win at Del Mar next month just like you did on World Cup night at Nad Al Sheba in March.

You will be missed.

That wasn’t so hard, was it?

From now on, please, let’s keep Facebook as a secondary news tool, one to spread condolences and news stories, not to start them. Especially if it’s something this sad.

For the horse’s sake, the athlete’s sake, I think a more dignified memorial is in order.

Then again, it could be worse. The death could have been announced on Twitter.

By bsd987

I have written for since 2004 and was named a featured writer in 2006. I have been Co-Editor of the site since January 1, 2009. I also write for where I am a founding member of the Tennis Roundtable and one of the chief contributors to both the Tennis and Horse Racing sections.

I am "Stat Boy" for's weekly podcast, Poor Man's PTI.

I am currently a Junior at Rice University majoring in History and Medieval Studies. My senior thesis will focus on the desegregation of football in Texas and its affect of racial relations.

Please direct all inquiries to [email protected].

Burton DeWitt
Co-Editor of

One reply on “Facebook is a secondary, not primary, news source”

Twitter is for people who have the ego or insecurity to think anyone actually gives a shit what they are doing RIGHT NOW.

If you’re a A list celeb, maybe you should twitter.

Thankfully, twitter is now being slowly taken over by ads (get the latest ebay deal on twitter!) and will hopefully die a quick and painful death.

Twitterers are, by and large, idiots.

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