THE ROAD AHEAD
Multiplying the mind’s capacity by the time available and dividing the result by the virtually limitless data streams easily accessible, logically results in a “short attention span” description for our times.
Others see it as a time of “constant partial attention.” Recent studies, however, suggest we are living in an “attention economy.” That is, more than ever before, the premium is on gaining and holding attention.
Instead of trying to absorb something of everything, online readers, according to an Eyetracker07 study by the Poynter Institute, are more likely to read further into a story than their print counterparts - once a story grasps their attention.
How to do this on the web is the subject of a lengthy Poynter piece by Guillermo E. Franco who plans to publish a 300-page book on the subject soon for free at www.eltiempo.com. Unfortunately, it will be in Spanish. Fortunately, the Poynter Piece (What Is The Future of Text Online?) is in English and it offers some practical advice in Franco’s interview with Chris Nodder, a Web-writing expert and user experience specialist for the Nielsen Norman Group.
Nodder says: “Content creators must avoid the vain notion that Web site visitors care about eloquent prose. Visitors are goal oriented, so they care much more about the ease with which they can extract information from the page. While this may not initially seem very "sexy" to aspiring writers, the difference between poor and good Web writing is so great that it can often be the factor that distinguishes a good site from a bad one." He goes on to suggest using the inverted pyramid, start with the conclusion, and,
* Write abstracts or summaries for longer content.
* Tell readers what questions they can expect an article to answer.
* Make small chunks of content with one or two ideas in each chunk.
* Group content that is similar.
* Write unique titles, headings and subheadings.
* Make lists, not paragraphs. Bulleted lists and white space can break up text.
“ . . . when users are task oriented -- when they are trying to find information or solve a problem -- almost 80 percent of them scan the page for relevant information. . . . . Users will only read the whole text when they are highly motivated to get extended information. . . . any writing technique that provides signposts to readers is likely to aid in comprehension. These signposts may be summaries, titles, bold or linked text, lists, or one of many other tools that are taught to journalists."
On designing newspaper web pages Nodder notes: Web page users “will only tolerate a certain degradation in usability before they look elsewhere for their content.” His group says: "place important content in a single main column, so users don't have to scan the page and pick out design elements in a two-dimensional layout."
The American Hot Rod Association’s DEUCE: The Definitive Documentary on an American Icon is now available online at www.ahrf.com/store.php. It features: Lil' John Buterra, Ray Brown, Alex Xydias, Jeff Beck, Jay Leno, Billy F. Gibbons, Chip Foose, Ed Iskenderian, Robert Williams, Wally Parks, the late Robert Petersen and many more. The one hour documentary celebrates the history of the ’32 Ford, from Detroit to the dry lakes and drag strips to Hollywood and the Billboard charts. It captures the essence of one of America’s most enduring legacies and has never-before-seen film footage and photos from the AHRF archives. A film for gearheads and anyone interested in American history and culture, all net proceeds from dvd sales go to the American Hot Rod Foundation to help preserve and promote hot rod history. . . . Carl Goodwin adds some specifics to last month’s reference to the ad that made Ford and GM apoplectic when it ran years ago featuring the Hemi. It read, Carl says, "We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Ford and GM for using Chrysler engines in their Funny Car racers." The ad illustrated a Chrysler-powered Ford EXP and a Chrysler-powered Pontiac Firebird. The tagline over the Chrysler Corporation logo was "Great Performance Starts with Great Engineering."
Automotive Traveler made its official debut April 1 (no foolin’). The new emagazine reports on driving exciting vehicles over challenging roads and meeting remarkable people along the way while discovering exciting destinations. Richard Truesdell is the editorial director. He says it has been his dream for more than 10 years to produce such a magazine. Truesdell promises, “We’ll give our readers all the tools and information to duplicate almost all of our adventures. We’ll do this in a way that is familiar and comfortable to fans of traditional print publications but with all the dynamic abilities that we now take for granted on the web.” Automotive Traveler is the first title of BCT Publishing, LLC., based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Industry professionals on the CVB and PR segment who want the Automotive Traveler media kit as well as contributors seeking writer’s guidelines, should contact Truesdell at 714-981-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org. . . . Self-styled automobile expert, Barbara Terry, has signed on with Gillette as host for the new Gillette "Triple Protection" Deodorant Pit Crew Classic Nascar Campaign. The campaign will run on air during NASCAR programming on Saturday and Sunday afternoons on ESPN and TNT from May 27, 2007 through July 1, 2007. Terry will serve as host of 85 separate 30-second spots. She currently writes a weekly auto advice column for The Houston Chronicle and is signed to pen her first book. . . .Word has it that ex Primedia editor and Chevy pro Terry Cole is developing a new online magazine: Max Chevy Magazine. No details or confirmation, as yet from Cole.
Downsizing usually is a bummer for those that are unexpectedly “shrunk” out of their job. Particularly for long-time staffers of one outlet like Brandy Schaffels who came to Petersen Publications straight out of California Lutheran College where she studied communications art. She had paid her way through college as a graphic artist and started with Petersen’s Guns and Ammo 18 years ago as a typesetter. She moved to Car Craft as a copy editor without any hands on automotive experience. However her dad was an engineer and her two brothers were into rebuilding engines, making her car-talk proficient. Her last 11 years at Petersen and two successor companies were with Motor Trend where her artistic and editing talents helped make Motor Trend.com one of Primedia’s premier websites. When Primedia’s entire enthusiast group was put on the block, she was out. Along with others, she was part of cost parings intended to hasten a sale. But, for her, the parting may be more blessing than bummer. She handled the sudden severance with grace, expressing her thanks to her many colleagues for the wonderful years and friends gained. Talents honed while working at Petersen made her a flexible freelancer - from copy editor to writer and editor to photographer and she soon landed on her feet. She is now managing editor for the new Automotive Traveler (see New Roads) and a contributing editor of www.AskPatty.com, a website where she has a daily blog and contributes other female- friendly automotive features. In addition, she’s taking on other automotive assignments as she can fit them in her schedule. You can reach her at Brandy.Schaffels@gmail.com or on her cell: 818-489-7501.
Members of the South Florida automotive media community gathered in South Miami on March 22 to launch the Southern Automotive Media Association. The meeting was sponsored by Toyota Motor Sales. Ron Beasley, automotive editor for Miami's Community Newspapers, was elected founding president. Veteran freelance automotive journalist Paul Borden, who writes for Miami Monthly Magazine and the Naples, Florida monthly lifestyle publication “N”, was elected vice president; Jaime Florez, vice president of Megazines Publications, was elected secretary and the popular NBC Motorsports analyst Bill Adam was elected treasurer. Beasley said, “The South Florida automotive media community is quite large, very diverse and active in many different areas. An organization such as this has been needed for a long time.” Beasley elaborated that, “SAMA will provide a platform for the automotive media – journalists, corporate communications specialists, marketing and advertising representatives – to meet, network and exchange ideas. Monthly luncheon meetings are planned, with guest speakers, product presentations and new vehicle demonstrations by various auto manufacturer representatives. For more information, go to www.SAMAonline.org or address email to RonBeasley@SAMAonline.org . . . . The Center for Automotive Research reports that motor vehicle suppliers contribute a total of 4.5 million jobs nationwide and are the top employer in seven states while ranking among the top five in 12 others. Suppliers to the vehicle manufacturers are “the invisible giants” of the automotive industry according to CAR chairman Dr. David Cole. In the aggregate they employ several times the number of workers in the motor vehicle manufacturing facilities. Average annual compensation for all 4.5 million jobs is $45,000. For more survey details and results check www.cargroup.org. . . . John Deming of Cruisin' Times Magazine comments on AWcom’s March segment on newspapers putting digital first. He says he’s been doing both print and digital since 1994 but now it is digital that brings advertisers. For the computer challenged he still issues print copies (“as many as advertisers want to pay for” ) but the priority is digital. . . . Also commenting on last month’s issue was Marc Rauch, co-founder, executive VP of The Auto Channel. He said, “We read the info about AutoWeek, Car & Driver, Motor Trend, et al, adding video reviews to their websites with great interest and amusement. We've only been doing that since February 1996! Do you think they'll be dumping their rotary dial telephones soon, too?" Wouldn’t you know, AWcom could not find the source we based the item on. Particularly frustrating was documentation for the estimated $250,000 produce and place cost of video reviews in the Hachette/Filipacchi e-magazines. Rauch says, “. . . no one gets that kind of money for video content on the Internet except maybe porn sites (in the aggregate). Even YouTube, Google Video and Yahoo Video haven't been able to figure out how to make money with video on the Internet yet.” . . The Lone Star 3000 has added the duo of long-time Michigan based writers, veteran freelancer Jim McGraw and writer/photographer Thom Cannel. They will be campaigning a just-released Land Rover LR2, the Volvo-powered successor to the Freelander. Nissan has confirmed its plans to run a 2008 Titan pickup truck, and General Motors confirms plans to enter a Chevy Suburban and Tahoe. Bridgestone/Firestone is the event’s official sponsor and will donate sets of tires to winners. Magellan will donate GP navigational systems to the first 25 Lone Star 3000 entries. . . . Greg Sanchez of Lets Talk Cars “wants to make it clear that our website – www.letstalkcars.com – is not going in any different direction than it has taken in the last 5 years. The “biker/babe section” (looked at askance by AWcom in March) is part of the LTC Yahoo group and those photographs are just part of a fun pictorial folder that is very commonly found on most internet groups.” . . . In case you were wondering if it would be better to “flack” than “hack” and what the going rate is, The Car Connection contributor Mike Davis passed along this ad (to the right in the sidebar) direct from the Detroit News. Mike adds, “I make it an $85,000-a-year job but with no bennies. Interesting and, I think, valid job description. Wonder who is hiring a headhunter in Texas for an auto PR job in Detroit? Or is this a would-be importer of something automotively odd? $41.19 an hour is a lot cheaper than hiring a local PR firm."
Lynne Slovick, previously with Land Rover PR on the West Coast is
now BFG PR Manager for Michelin North America in Greenville, S.C. . . . .
Joe Brown has relocated to San Francisco and Wired Magazine.
an associate editor with Popular Science in New York, he heads the car
coverage at Wired and also contributes to the online version and to its Autopia section. . . . Don Chaikin has retired as Popular Mechanics automotive editor. No successor has been named as yet and Don, reportedly, is resisting blandishments to freelance for the magazine. . . . Material for the Opelousas Daily World’s Sunday auto section should be sent to Sabrina Dominque. . . . Terrance Wynne is now Managing Editor of NADA’s Official Used Car Guide. He succeeds veteran Patricia Erney who has left the organization. . . . Roger Wineglaar is the business editor at The Oakland Press in Pontiac, Mich. . . . The Wichita Business Journal no longer carries weekly car reviews. . . . Barbara Wieland is the new auto business reporter for the Lansing State Journal. . . . Gray Wheatley now is the automotive news contact at the Wilson Daily Times in Wilson, N.C. . . . Bill Holstein no longer is with Directorship. Jeff Cunningham is editorial director there . . . Freelancer Tara Baukus Mello is back to work part-time after the birth of her daughter last Fall. She reports that Jazmine enjoyed her first car show recently, drooling over a flamed '32 Ford street rod at Petersen's Deuce Day.
EVENTS, HONORS AND AWARDS
Jean Jennings, president of Automobile Magazine, won the
2007 Ken Purdy Award presented annually by the International Motor Press Association. Her June 6, 2006 cover story, "Veyron in the USA” was selected by a panel of automotive journalists as most embodying the spirit and passion of the late Ken Purdy, considered one of America's greatest automotive writers and editors. The same piece won three 2006 International Automotive Media Awards, including Best Overall. . . . Anne Doyle, is an April inductee of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. First a locker room barrier-busting sports reporter in Detroit, she moved to PR where she continued to pioneer, rising to a global PR job at Ford and being named by Automotive News as one of the automotive industry’s top 100 women in 2000. She is now a speaker and consultant.
April 15: Entry Deadline, Lone Star Rally
April 15-17: SEMA National Education Conference, Nashville, TN
April 16 –19: SAE World Congress, Detroit, MI
April 16: RSVP Deadline for MAMA's Spring Collection Rally
at Road America
April 18: MAMA, Luncheon, Oak Brook Terrace, Volo Auto Museum
April 18: WAPA Luncheon, National Press Club, Buick
April 29: 17th Annual Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show,
Half Moon Bay Airport, CA
May 1-2: MAMA, Spring Collection Rally, Road America Elkhart Lake, WI
May 8: NEMPA Dinner Meeting, Boston , SAAB
May 16-18: Automotive News Manufacturing Conference, Nashville, TN
June 2: Chi-Town STA-BIL Kruze, (Classic Car Cruise and Exhibition)
Chicago , IL
June 6-7: Ward’s Auto Interiors Show, Detroit, MI
MOTORING PRESS ORGANIZATIONS
The 14 regional automotive press associations provide information
and background not easily found elsewhere. If they are too distant
to attend their meetings, belonging usually gives you access to
transcripts or reports of these events and other benefits.
APA Automotive Press Association, Detroit - John Lippert, email@example.com
IMPA International Motor Press Association, NYC, Fred Chieco, President - firstname.lastname@example.org, www.impa.org
MAMA Midwest Automotive Media Association, Chicago - www.mamaonline.org
MPG Motor Press Guild, Los Angeles - www.motorpressguild.org
NEMPA New England Motor Press Association, Boston - www.nempa.org
NWAPA Northwest Automotive Press Association, Port Orchard, WA- www.nwapa.org
PAPA Phoenix Automotive Press Association, Phoenix, Cathy Droz, President- email@example.com
RMAP Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, Denver - firstname.lastname@example.org
SAMA Southern Automotive Media Association, Miami FL, Ron Beasley, President, RonBeasley@SAMAonline.org
SEAMO Southeast Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC www.southeastautomedia.org
TAWA Texas Auto Writers Association - http://www.TexasAutoWriters.org, Harold Gunn, email@example.com
TWNA Truck Writers of North America, www.twna.org Tom Kelley, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
WAJ Western Automotive Journalists, San Francisco - www.waj.org, Michael Coates, president, email@example.com
WAPA Washington Automotive Press Association, D.C., Kimatni Rawlins, President - www.washautopress.org
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Glenn F. Campbell