march 2010 newsletter

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the road ahead
The Road Ahead:Digital World - March 2010

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 Apple and 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 attention."

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 advertising.”

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 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 seriously.”  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 from 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:


Mothers Polishes*Waxes*Cleaners
autowriters spotlight

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. Autowriters Spotlight: David Sedgwick

David Sedgwick

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.



the tom-tom

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 byUnderstanding Hybrid Vehicle by Craig Van Batenburg 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 emergency stop.”


 Tom-Tom rants, raves, rambles and ruminations are volunteered and express the opinions of the writer.


road signs

“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 was referencing.

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 Or, 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 the same. 

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 generated elsewhere;
  • 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.



pit notes

Appropriate to the Easter season, Motor Trend Classic has been reborn. 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. has changed owners. Launched just four months ago by 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 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 JournalistsStop distracted driving. Reinvent Themselves? . . . AutoWeek has joined Coyne Communications' 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 participate contact: 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 . . . 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 ( by Mike Butcher’s Embargoes 11-The Sequel. . . . 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. (

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 actions.”

On a more serious note: Bill Maloney advises that he is experiencing
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 contacts are: billmaloney15@aol.comKent Specialty Care Center, 46 Maple Street, Kent CT 0675 and



old roads

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 racingThe Ferrari Phenomenon by Matt Stone + Luca Del MOnte 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 co-authored, 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  Kevin  Clemens at: . . .  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.



lane changes

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:  . . . Steve Plum who writes for autobeatdaily and autotechdaily, can be reached at:

Features editor Enrique Lavin supplants Lori Crowell at the Newark Star Ledger,  . . . Freelancer Preston Gratiot’s new email address: . . . Keith Chrostowski replaces Chris Lester as business editor at the Kansas City Star, . . . Jean Halliday’s new email address is: . . . Ron Eldridge no longer is with Trailer Boats Magazine and emails should be directed to publisher/editorial director Jim Hendricks:

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 . . . Jonathan Banks, Sr., Director Editorial and Data Services, supplants Terrence Wynne as the primary media contact at NADA:  . . .The new email address for the LaVida News and The Ebony Voice in Missouri, Tex. is: . . . 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:



- 30-


Glenn F. Campbell

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Eagle One Golden Rule Awards 2010

Golden Rule Award

Regional Car Clubs Honored For Outstanding Community Service:

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, CA
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 anti-stress


4 Conclusion of Princess Rally, a real road rally, with a feminine twist and a glorious collection of legendary rides.



March 2010
25 SAMA Luncheon, Rusty Pelican, Miami, FL, Green Car Event
31 Press Preview, New York International Auto Show
April 2010
1 Press Preview, New York International Auto Show
2-11 Public Days, New York International Auto Show
12-15 SAE World Congress, Detroit, MI
13 MAMA Luncheon, Oakbrook Terrace, IL, Kia
May 2010
2-4 TAWA Spring Challenge, Fort Worth, TX
19 WAJ, Future Cars, Future Transportation Event
25-27 MAMA Spring Collection, Elkhat Lake, WI
June 2010
24 MAMA Luncheon, Oak Brook Terraces, IL, General Motors
August 2010
2-5 CAR Management Briefing Seminars, Traverse City, MI
September 2010
25 Ironstone Foundation's Concours D'Elegance, Murphys, CA, more info:


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 -


Northwest 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,


Southeast Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC


Texas Auto Writers Association, Mike Herzing,


Truck Writers of North America, Tom Kelley, Executive Director,


Western Automotive Journalists, San Francisco -, Ron Harrison


Washington Automotive Press Association, D.C., Rick Trawick,


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  

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.

Terry Parkhurst

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Glenn Campbell, Publisher       Lysa McCarroll, Managing Editor

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