the road ahead
Wherever the road ahead leads for auto writers, traffic
will be faster, more congested and definitely noisier. And
it will be “mobile first” according to Google CEO
Eric Schmidt. In his keynote address to the Mobile World Congress,
as reported by Midmarket Eweek’s Nathan Eddy,
Schmidt said, “smartphones are the high-volume endpoint of
three trends (connectivity, computing power and cloud
computing) and that, within three years the sales of smartphones will exceed those of PCs.” (Ed’s note: Google is
actively promoting or developing products and services
abetting all three trends and competing vigorously with
Microsoft in all three).
AOL is set to introduce a device that will enable
connection to multiple communications devices. The FCC
is pushing for greater reach and faster speeds for the
nation’s Internet services and cloud computing means your
cache of data is always where you are (and growing).
Those and related trends raise significant questions about
how technology is affecting communications content. David
Koretz, writes in an Online Publishing column,
Please Stop Talking, “We have become a nation that is a
mile wide and an inch deep.” He says it is not hard to
imagine that in 10 years, “Consumers will sit behind a fat
broadband pipe getting email, instant messages, social
networking updates, and text messages while simultaneously
consuming Web sites or video. Good luck getting their
Michael Learmonth, writing in Advertising Age,
asks, “Did the Internet kill quality? Or just redefine it?”
He answers “yes and yes, particularly if you define
‘quality' by the standards of professionals in content
industries that produce the long-form TV, film, journalism
and literature once considered the highest forms of
information and entertainment -- the kind that brands once
paid handsomely to associate themselves with through
Careful AWCom reader Stephan Wilkinson
raised that question on a smaller scale,
scorning misspells, grammatical errors and word usage in
response to bloggers' comments posted at
www.autowriters.com/blog. In a follow up email he
attributed the decline of quality to "non-writers who use the
Internet. Many of them really don't know how to spell
or punctuate; sure, they do in a basic way, but not
Tom Kelley’s Tom-Tom in last month’s AWCom Newsletter
offered some guidelines for auto writers who want to be
heard in the future: Accountability (identify yourself and
your sources), Transparency (who is funding your work) and
Verifiability (where you are read, seen or heard, how often
and by how many).
Learmonth concludes his piece with this nutshell quote
Break.com CEO Keith Richman, "Creating content
for the web is an art and a science. There has been a lot of
talk now about the science. Those guys studying the science
of it will be forced eventually to focus on the art of it."
What do you think? Comments:
If there’s someone out there undecided about becoming an auto writer, Dave
Sedgwick’s recounting of his career should tip the scales.
Many journalists get involved in automotive reporting because they love cars.
I got involved because it was such a great story. It was in the late 1980s, and
I was a business reporter for the Detroit News.
An opening came up for an automotive reporter, and I jumped at the
opportunity. In Detroit, any business journalist with ambition wanted to cover
the Big Story.
One of my first assignments was to cover the 1989 Detroit auto show. Until
then, the show had been relatively low-key. But the organizers finally decided
to go big-time, and encouraged foreign automakers to participate.
Toyota and Nissan responded with back-to-back world
introductions of their new luxury brands, Lexus and Infiniti.
It was a hell of a show, and I was hooked. During the newspaper strike of
1995, I moved from the Detroit News to Automotive News, where I held
various jobs as reporter and editor.
At Automotive News, I had an opportunity to see the car business as a global
industry. I covered auto shows in Frankfurt, Geneva, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing and
Shanghai. And I had an opportunity to tour plants and meet executives in places
like Brazil, Argentina and Thailand.
The ride-and-drives were fun, too. Years ago, I had a chance to drive through
Death Valley in a Ford Contour SVT (of all things) with
Parnelli Jones riding shotgun. He knew that area like the back of his hand.
All good things must come to an end, and I got laid off from Automotive News
in June of 2009. Like other publications, Automotive News got financially
hammered by the recession, and it had to downsize.
Currently I am editor of AutoBeat Europe, a daily newsletter for auto
executives. I also freelance articles for AOL’s automotive website. So
I’m making enough to pay my bills, and I still have fun.
What does the future hold? I don’t believe that journalism is dead, but
there’s no question it will never be the same. In Detroit, the two daily
newspapers -- the Detroit News and the Free Press -- have shrunk
drastically. They’re not going to return to their former glory days, when they
each had a circulation of 650,000-plus.
Business publications like Automotive News aren’t immune to change, either.
So what does it take for a journalist to prosper? I got a master’s degree in
journalism at the University of Missouri in 1977. It was useful training
back then, and I think journalism school remains useful today.
In 1977 I got my first job at the Adrian Telegram, a small newspaper
where I did some reporting, editing, page layout, photography and editorials.
This was a huge help to me in two ways: I learned how to meet daily deadlines,
and I learned how to be versatile.
Those two fundamental skills are still in demand. It’s the delivery system --
i.e. the Web, Twitter, blogs, etc. -- that has been revolutionized. These
days, a successful journalist has to be both prolific and versatile -- a
combination photographer, videographer, writer, reporter, whatever.
It also helps to have the mindset of an entrepreneur. Even if you are a
full-time staffer in a media corporation, you should look for opportunities to
expand your expertise.
Which is what I’m doing now. I’ve purchased a video camera, and I’m going to
get some lessons. Stay tuned.
Autowriters.Com invites readers to submit their own Clog
(Online Column). Your reward: a byline and an audience
of your peers. All submissions are acknowledged,
queued and used at the editor’s discretion.
Stopping a Prius
Absent the arrival of an expected Tom-Tom, AWCom offers
this expert’s report on his stopping a Prius at high speed.
Tests results by
Craig Van Batenburg, CEO of the Automotive Career
Development Center in Worcester, MA may answer drivers’
questions about what happens when the brakes are slammed on
or the power turned off in a 2004 Prius traveling 80 mph.
“Once I hit 80mph with my foot to the floor I kept my
right foot down and then hit the brakes as hard as I could
with my left foot. This action does two things. It shuts off MGI and MG2 (effectively setting it into neutral) and allows
the ICE some limited RPMs. Then it must use only mechanical
brakes as a safety back up in the PCM. It stopped the car
very quickly. I did this 3 times in a row. After the 3rd
time the brakes were smoking hot but still worked.
Also, just before this abusive treatment I went 80 mph and
while still accelerating I pushed the power button until the
dash went blank. It takes about 3 seconds. This does 2
things. It shifts the car into neutral and shuts off all
electrical power to everything except a few 12-volt items
that the 12 volt battery can handle. The 12 volt battery
back up (black box of capacitors near the 12 volt battery)
supplies power to the brake-by-wire so you can make a safe
Tom-Tom rants, raves, rambles and ruminations are
volunteered and express the opinions of the writer.
“There may be less going on here than meets the eye.”
Media Digest’s quote of the week from The Economist may apply
to social media as well as to the net generation’s “digital natives” the paper
For example: While thousands of “friends” may be accumulated on Facebook,
an on-going study at Oxford University puts the brain’s capacity for
maintaining relationships at 150 persons. Reported by Chris Gourlay in
Twitter has unleashed 10 billion “tweets” in three years and at its
current rate of more than 50 million per day will double that total by the end
of the year, according to gigatweet, reported in Media Digest. Yet, the
great bulk of those “tweets” come from about five percent of Twitter members.
Or, AOL is creating an incestuous content factory that uses search
engines to scour the web searching out hot topics and then farming out
assignments to citizen journalists and professional editors to create more of
And AOL is not alone.
Daniel Blackman, writing for Media Post’s, Online Publishing
Insider, says, “At this very moment, hundreds of thousands, if not millions,
of articles are being created on a scale never before seen in the media world.
Algorithms generate specific topics, then keyword-stuffed articles are quickly
written. It's the shotgun marriage of Henry Ford and Johannes
Gutenberg, consecrated by the Internet. Much of this content isn't being
generated in order to inform, inspire, or to entertain. Its raison d'ętre is
simply to be found by the search bots and then served up to deliver ad clicks.
The content is only a means to an end.” Yet, as Desi Tzoneva reports in
Media Post, research this January by the Pew Project for Excellence in
Journalism found that traditional media still generates the bulk of information
that reaches the public:
- New media platforms and services like Twitter mainly repeat information
- While the news landscape has rapidly expanded, most of what the public
learns is still overwhelmingly driven by traditional media;
- Much of the ‘news’ people receive contains no original reporting; and
- Most new information comes from traditional media, and these stories
tend to set the narrative agenda for most other media outlets.
Appropriate to the Easter season, Motor Trend Classic has been
Source Interlink has re-launched the previously bimonthly
magazine as a quarterly to the delight of many fans who thought it was
the death knell for the up market title when it was shuttered three
years ago . . . . Also re-launched, Wooden Horse News reports, is
Canada’s Driver Magazine. It has gone from a regional to a
bimonthly national magazine covering the gamut of consumer automotive concerns.
SpeedReaders.info has changed owners. Launched just four months
Kevin Clemens and Helen V. Hutchings, to present carefully
considered reviews of transportation books, videos and DVDs, the site
has published more than 100 reviews. The new owner and site
administrator is Sabu Advani. He has been editor of the Rolls
Royce owner’s club magazine,
The Flying Lady, since 1998. Clemens will pursue his academic
career while Hutchings has been offered new opportunities, although both
will contribute reviews periodically.
Prolific freelance writer Rex Roy
has added TV scriptwriter and show host to his resume. He has done 10
DIY Garage shows sponsored by
Auto Zone, for AOL Autos.com They are in the can and
rolling onto to the web site as we write. . . . Writing for
HuffPost Social News, Bill Lucey offers some concrete
suggestions (too many to list here) in his piece, How Do Laid Off
Journalists Reinvent Themselves? . . . AutoWeek has joined
campaign to discourage driving while distracted. Specifically, the
magazine urges you and your readers to sign a pledge to not drive while
distracted. For more information about the campaign and how you can
Annec@coyne-net.com or go to
Speaking of AutoWeek, the publication is launching a two-day Virtual
Green Car Show that promises a look “at everything you need to learn
about green, virtually.” It starts live on Sept. 22-23. To
participate you must pre-register at
www.autoweekvirtualgreencarshow.com . . . If you want a current
update on Ethanol, The Auto Channel recently completed a
30-minute Road Trip episode focused on the subject with
Ed Begley, Jr. and David Blume, author of “Alcohol Can
Be A Gas.” The show can be seen at:
PR types who discriminate between bloggers and mainstream media are
gibed in Tech Crunch Europe (http://eu.techcrunch.com)
Mike Butcher’s Embargoes 11-The Sequel. . . . Autoclassique.tv
is a new pay per view service for car and motorsport enthusiasts. The
online archive of European races and drivers is a cooperative effort
between a number of producers and film archives. The films are ranged in
various categories and include some free to view. (http://www.autoclassique.tv).
Jay Lamm assures us that, “Market research shows that most
LeMons racers understand that our races are pointless, and they have
no choice but to simply enjoy themselves.” This, despite his
announcement of a 2010 Regional Title program that he predicts
will add, “complexity and an artificial sense of importance,” thereby
increasing the series “market share in whining, hisssyfits and legal
On a more serious note: Bill Maloney advises that he is
sight-threatening medical problems; Duncan Haimerl is rehabbing
from recent successful cancer surgery and Marlon Hanson is
recuperating from quintuple by-pass surgery last week. Their respective
Kent Specialty Care Center, 46 Maple Street, Kent CT 0675 and
New books for fresh drives down old roads include two coffee-table
stunners from David Bull Publishing: “Phil Hill: A Driving Life,”
and “The Ferrari Phenomenon.” The first collects 26 of the
late World Champion’s best stories from his years as a contributor to
Road And Track Magazine. It is amply illustrated and offers
Hill’s personal recollections of some of his contemporary motor racing
greats. AWCom promptly shipped its review copy to a writer who has
interviewed Hill, followed his career and, promises a review for our
next issue. In the interim contact
dbull@dbullpublishing for more information, including a chance for a
limited publisher’s edition signed by key people in Hill’s career. Our
copy of The Ferrari Phenomenon awaits a similar deal, preferably
one that will produce a review for us and for another outlet. Written by
Matt Stone and Luca Del Monte, the book offers “a fresh,
wide ranging and innovative perspective on the world’s most iconic car
manufacturer,” reads David Bull’s cover letter.
Veteran Midwest journalist Ted Evanoff, formerly with the
Detroit Free Press and now with the Indianapolis Star, has
At The Crossroads, out this month from ECW Press in Toronto.
Written with Abe Aamidor, who wrote Shooting Star: The
Rise and Fall of the British Motorcycle Industry, the book has
been labeled “a brilliant study of the auto industry.” At The
Crossroads delves into the bailout of Detroit, the history of the
automakers and the UAW, the decline of factory cities in the region, and
the failure of public policy to reinvigorate the industrial Midwest. It's available on-line at
Barnes & Noble, Borders and Amazon.
Another veteran auto writer, Ted West, has completed his first
novel, “Closing Speed.” It is a fictionalized account of the 1970
Ferrari - Porsche World Manufacturers Championship war he covered
for Road & Track. Published by Demontreville Press, the
335 page book will be out in April. For more information contact
email@example.com . . . Burt 'BS' Levy,
self- proclaimed “Fastest Novelist In the World,” has changed the
outdate for his new book "The 200 MPH Steamroller"
to early summer and reverted to one fat volume from a mid-stream
decision to tell it in two skinny ones.
To complete last month’s report of his departure from The Wall
Street Journal, AWCom has been advised that John Stoll is now
“a flak for Ford.” . . . Scott Sloan replaces Risa
Brim-Richardson as auto industry contact for the Lexington Herald
Leader. His Email is:
firstname.lastname@example.org . . . Steve Plum who writes
for autobeatdaily and autotechdaily, can be reached at:
Features editor Enrique Lavin supplants Lori Crowell at
the Newark Star Ledger,
email@example.com . . . Freelancer Preston Gratiot’s
new email address:
firstname.lastname@example.org . . . Keith Chrostowski replaces Chris
Lester as business editor at the Kansas City Star,
email@example.com . . .
Jean Halliday’s new email address is:
firstname.lastname@example.org . . .
Ron Eldridge no longer is with Trailer Boats Magazine and
emails should be directed to publisher/editorial director Jim
Valley Morning Star auto writer Nic Barrera in
Harlingen, Tex., moved to its sister paper, the Brownsville Herald,
as advertising director and his old post has not been filled. . . .Matt
Emery’s new email address is
email@example.com . . . Jonathan Banks, Sr., Director
Editorial and Data Services, supplants Terrence Wynne as the
primary media contact at NADA:
jbanks@NADA.org . . .The new email address for the LaVida
News and The Ebony Voice in Missouri, Tex. is:
firstname.lastname@example.org . . . GM Communications
has relocated its Irving, Texas headquarters to Suite 200, 600 E. John
Carpenter Freeway, 75062, telephone, 469-417-7083. . . . Mike
Seuffert has been replaced as the Aftermarket Business contact by
Krista McNamara Managing Editor. Her phone# 440-891-2746 EMAIL:
Glenn F. Campbell
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Eagle One Golden Rule Awards 2010
Regional Car Clubs Honored For Outstanding Community
Early Mustang Club of Colorado
Denver - West (Overall Winner)
Central Nebraska Car Club
Kearny, NE - Midwest
Lancaster County Corvette Club
Lancaster, PA - East
Downshifters of Brooklyn
St. Petersburg, FL. - South
26-28 Legends of Riverside Film Festival & Gala, Riverside, CA.
Carroll Shelby honored guest
8- Petersen Automotive Museum Annul Cars and Stars gala, Los Angeles,
Heroes of Drag Racing, NHRA 60th Anniversary
30 – 11th Annual Princess Rally, Paris, France to Monaco, one-of-a-kind,
feminine style motor sport event which combines anti-gloom and
4 Conclusion of Princess Rally, a real road rally, with a feminine twist
and a glorious collection of legendary rides.
SAMA Luncheon, Rusty Pelican, Miami, FL, Green Car Event
Press Preview, New York International Auto Show
Press Preview, New York International Auto Show
Public Days, New York International Auto Show
SAE World Congress, Detroit, MI
MAMA Luncheon, Oakbrook Terrace, IL, Kia
TAWA Spring Challenge, Fort Worth, TX
WAJ, Future Cars, Future Transportation Event
MAMA Spring Collection, Elkhat Lake, WI
MAMA Luncheon, Oak Brook Terraces, IL, General Motors
CAR Management Briefing Seminars, Traverse City, MI
Ironstone Foundation's Concours D'Elegance, Murphys, CA,
motoring press organizations
The 15 regional automotive press associations provide
information and background not easily found elsewhere.
If they are too distant for you to attend their meetings,
belonging usually gives you access to transcripts or reports of
these events and other benefits.
Automotive Press Association, Detroit -
International Motor Press
Association, NYC, Fred Chieco, President -
Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association
Midwest Automotive Media
Association, Chicago -
Motor Press Guild, Los Angeles -
New England Motor
Press Association, Boston -
Automotive Press Association, Bellevue, WA-
Phoenix Automotive Press
Association, Phoenix, Cathy Droz, President-
Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, Denver -
Southern Automotive Media
Association, Miami FL, Paul Borden, President,
Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC
Texas Auto Writers Association
http://www.TexasAutoWriters.org, Mike Herzing,
of North America,www.twna.org Tom Kelley, Executive Director,
Western Automotive Journalists,
San Francisco - www.waj.org, Ron Harrison
Automotive Press Association, D.C., Rick Trawick, Presidentwww.washautopress.org
Keith Buglewicz, formerly with the now mostly disbanded editorial group at AutobyTel, Inc., is building his own web site."
I'd call it completely disbanded, given that there are no writers, editors, photogs or video people left.
It was a great gig while it lasted, but I really wanted more than 11 months' worth.
I've seen Keith's site and it looks like a winner.
Bob Beamesderfer http://www.keytothehighway.net
I think Craig Newmark has almost destroyed the legitimate publishing business; and so, he prattles on about some nonsense about "trust being the new black," leaving us to scratch our heads and go, "Huh?"
Look, it isn't rocket science. It's always been about the person or people behind the book, or in today's world, the web-site. There's going to be some ambiguity resultant from that, but in the final analysis, we've got to ask, "Do these new tools work?" Work to create some things worth reading or images worth viewing.
Sad to say, much of what's on the Web still doesn't measure up to some of the worst in print.
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