may 2009 newsletter

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the road ahead

A recently retired U.S. armed forces General was quoted on a national news show as saying he joined one of the online social media networks because he wanted to keep up with the younger generation and very quickly he had 4200 new “friends.” Other than vaporizing the meaning of “friends”, what was learned?

In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell, cites many examples of some average limits on humans when it comes to: easily remembering telephone numbers (seven digits), optimizing teamwork (150 persons per team), distinguishing tastes, touches or sounds (six), and maintaining close friendships (15). Gladwell also posits the phenomenon of immunity in mass communications – at some point the more pervasive a network becomes the more likely it is to engender immunity to it. In what might be called Gladwell’s Law of Inverse Effects, he says: “As a network grows in size, . . . it is also the case that the time and nuisance costs borne by each member of the network grows as well.”

In the case of telephone marketing, immunity responses to those costs include do not call lists, answering machines, caller I.D. and just hanging up! They have helped decrease the effectiveness of telemarketing by 50 percent over the last 25 years or so, according to Gladwell.  And now it may be immunities to social media’s are incubating.

While it is a mix of functional and financial factors, each of the big social networks is having troubles. Writing for the Silicon Valley Insider, Benjamin Wayne says, "YouTube is soaring towards the future like a pigeon towards a plate glass window.” He projects a half-billion dollar loss for the video-sharing network in 2009.

Maria Russo asks in The Wrap, “With no buzz factor, low scores for 'user trust' in online surveys and a reputation as a hangout for disaffected teenagers, is MySpace still viable as a broad-based, come-one-come-all social network?” Om Malik answers in GigaCom, “Like an 80’s rock band MySpace’s time has come and gone.” Forbes writer Taylor Buley cites Facebook insiders as putting that network’s “burn rate” at $200 million a year. Meanwhile Twitter, coming off one of, if not the best, PR/Marketing campaigns of the year with the Ashton Kutcher, Oprah Winfrey ploys, is growing approximately 33 percent per month, according to ComScore.

Some columnists suggest that this short-form social networking may itself be an immunizing response to the personal costs of participating in the full-blown versions. Keeping it short and most often, too simple. For those who despair, there is consolation in a Media Publications report that checking the weather is the most popular app on smart phones.

And there's this thought by Corey Treffiletti writing in Online Spin: “Just about everyone agrees that the next stage of the Web is a transition towards a customizable, distributed Web that no longer relies on mass audience destinations as much as it will rely on technology to tailor the remote experience to the individual user. But is it possible that this next stage will also transition from a two-dimensional experience of flat Web pages to a three-dimensional experience more akin to virtual worlds?”

Comments? Please go to:


new roads

As many another practicing journalist faced with fewer places to practice, Chicago freelancer Jim Gorzelany ( created his own: The Automotive Intelligentsia 2009-20010 Sports Car Guide, the first-ever new-car reference Automotive Intelligentsia Sports Car Guidesource created especially for the Amazon Kindle eBook Reader and the Apple iPhone/iPod Touch with free Kindle Reader soft-ware. Gorzelany says,” Those fortunate enough to be in the market for a new sports car will find the Automotive Intelligentsia 2009-2010 Sports Car Guide to be an invaluable asset, while even those just “kicking the tires” will be engaged and entertained by this world class collection of rolling works of art.” From rough and tumble muscle cars to the world’s most elegant and exotic sports car, the Guide spotlights 54 of the most coveted rides on the rode, all for the discounted price of $5.99 at Gorzelany plans similar Kindle guides to car groups (economy, family, vans, etc.) and the first ebook new-car pricing guide. . . . Vince Bodiford proudly announces his all-new site for The Weekend Drive is now active, including a full video channel at  He is now busy loading archived content that goes back to the 1998 model year.

Media Post Publications reports Atlanta-based online auto seller has launched a new Hispanic division. It will include a Spanish-language web site and a bilingual print publication, Auto Trader Latino, distributed free in 15 of the nation’s largest markets for Hispanic-American car buyers. . . .Theresa Cramer reports for Information Today, “ officially debuted on April 8-aims to sort through the information overload, digest stories from across the spectrum, and then feed it all back to you in short, easy-to-swallow videos.” A team of editors monitors news from online, print, and televised sources from around the globe. They then put together 2-3-minute video clips summing up the different kinds of coverage a particular topic is getting in the media.” Cramer notes the new outlet is assembling and not creating and that one critic asks what will it do if there aren’t people on the ground providing source materials?


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. 

Steve Parker

Never without an opinion or words to express them, Steve Parker riffs on last month’s Tom-Tom and other topics. Parker created, writes for and moderates the only automotive-related blog on The Huffington Post website. He maintains his own site ( and blog, pens a weekly print column and hosts a daily NASCAR news update radio show, American Racing Today, that is heard nationally.

Steve Parker:

Steve Parker

I got a kick out of “Truck Writer” Tom Kelley when he wrote: “To be certain, the print-on-paper channel of communications will never go completely away, just as radio didn’t kill newspapers, and television didn’t kill radio. Every method of delivery has its pros and cons, and as new methods become widely used, the other methods become further refined, surviving by doing what they alone can do best.”

Well, ol’ Tom misses the boat, as so many others have and continue to do. The Internet is not simply replacing specific newspapers, magazines, movies, radio or TV --- it’s replacing them ALL.

Every media in every market is migrating to the Web. There was a big piece in the pro-radio industry website this week about Internet radio (what I call WebRadio) listenership BOOMING as traditional radio numbers continue to drop (satellite radio is dead, so it doesn’t even count anymore) and TV in all its forms digs itself into an ever-deeper hole. I can watch “60 Minutes” on CBS’ website, for example, whenever I want, without commercials, and get lots of video which didn’t make it onto the show. from NBC/Universal has become a huge Website in under a year, a neat, clean and easy-to-use place where visitors get free access to THOUSANDS of TV shows and movies.

And feature films now show-up on the Web before they’re available in their DVD or traditional theater forms. There was a big story about a new film due in theaters last week which hit the Web first, and the FBI got heavily and very publicly involved in finding out who the culprits were … How long until the FBI says, “Forget it – we’ve got other jobs to do!” and deals are worked out between Websites and the film (and TV) studios similar to iTunes and other pay-to-play sites? I’d say this year …

I’m going to be writing a bit on “getting back to basics” when it comes to the auto business in all its forms, motor racing – and what we’ve quaintly referred to as “automotive journalism.” That auto journo business has not served the public well, especially in the US, and in fact has harmed the public, and with car-maker and aftermarket ad budgets a fraction of what they were only a year ago, and not coming back anytime soon, if ever, that next sound you hear will be the “enthusiast books” shutting their doors forever. Especially if, like most newspapers, they don’t have sales teams crafty enough or interested enough in the ways of the Web to make a go of it online (I happen to think lazy, unimaginative sales leadership is the #1 problem of print publications and broadcast outlets – and after 35 years in all those businesses, I know whereof I speak … Any salesperson would rather sign the Dodgers to a one-year contract, take the client to dinner and a show twice a year and never have to think about the client again … until it’s time to sign next year’s contract – But to actually “think” and come up with new ideas? Fuggedaboutit!).

Good line about Iacocca saying a mag cover was worth $1 million. I can remember (and so can you) when any of the Big Three would fly a car out to LAX for a last-minute magazine shoot, stay on the ground two hours, put the car back in the plane and fly it home to Detroit, all in the space of one day’s work … And all we had to do was ask!

Man, are those days over!

Tom Kelley responds: Great counterpoint from somebody inside the web. Short version is that Steve thinks the shift to the web is further along than I do. Capability-wise, the web is definitely in the lead, consumption-wise, the consumer is quickly catching up. As for the long-term survival of traditional newspapers/television/radio, let's just say I'm not buying any stock in those industries.

Regardless of where we are on the time line of our move to the web, the main thrusts of the article about the evolving structure of information flow and the journalist's need to be multimedia savvy, are only further emphasized by Steve's viewpoint.

Steve's article does provide some great insight to the sales side of the business. However, on most days I'll have to disagree with Steve about the ol' part of "ol' Tom." I think he might have a few more miles on his odometer.

Comments? Please go to:

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


Old Focals - Vintage and Contemporary Eyewear

autowriters spotlight
Rex Roy

Rex Roy

Rex Roy was born into auto writing. At age 14 he was a product information specialist in the world’s 27th largest ad agency. In high school he sold “spy” photos to the buff books and could re-build cars. That his father had founded and built Ross Roy Advertising gained him entrée but memorizing car facts as easily as “other kids memorized baseball stats” earned him the respect of copywriters who relied on him for copy points and art directors who came to him to verify their product depictions were correct.

He was raised during Motor City high times when auto talk was the only talk on the city’s golf-courses, in its bars, over its dinner tables and at its backyard barbeques and cocktail parties - as well as its board rooms and assembly lines. The “auto biz” was the secular religion. For Roy, it was systemic and he felt a career in auto advertising was his birthright.

Yet, as have thousands of Detroit families who fully expected their children would follow them into the shops, studios, cubicles or executives suites of the Big Three or those of its vendors and suppliers, he found that things change. Drastically. For him, the first of two reality jolts came much earlier than the seismic one hitting Motown now. The death of his father and sale of the agency shortly before he graduated the U. of M. totally altered his expectations. The new owners “no family” policy barred him from Ross Roy which itself, within a decade was no longer a proud Detroit-owned agency, having been consumed and regurgitated by a communications conglomerate.

Sign Of The Times


But back then, it was still “three martini lunch time” in Detroit and he quickly found demand for his automotive know-how, working for a number of firms before starting his own to provide catalogs, sales training materials and any type of copy utilizing his industry know-how and wordsmith abilities. That lasted until one of his clients dangled money and status for him to work exclusively for them as a Sr. VP, Group Creative Director, forming a new division and hiring folks to work for him. Then things changed again. New management he chose not to get along with arrived a few years later. He had divided his old company’s business among its employees when he left so he had to reinvent himself.

This time, Detroit’s automotive predominance was on the slide and it was more like sack lunches at the desk. He was faced with the same challenge that he believes confronts Detroit’s work force now, the need to rely on entrepreneurial energies and imagination to survive and achieve. He does not think it will be easy on the massive scale required. Switching to full time freelance auto journalism was not easy for him. Fortunately, he had run into journalists like veteran Don Sherman who mentored his transition and auto editors who liked his writing and auto smarts. Among those he credits for helping him get started are Rich Homan, a former editor at Road & Track and Reilly Brennan, now at AOL Autos.

He lives in a smaller home and drives an older car now and hustles each day to sell and write stories to pay the mortgage. At least 10 outlets use his work regularly. Since the first of the year he has placed 100 pieces and while he enjoys the independence and relying on his wit, he still starts each day scratching for story ideas and deciding to whom and where to best pitch them.

Comments? Please go to


road signs

MarketWatch reports Source Interlink, Inc. is entering a lender-approved pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy, under which it hopes to re-emerge within 35 days. The action by the major publisher of U.S. automotive titles is planned to re-structure its debt load. . . . Wooden Horse says Print loyalists are taking heart from the failure of Time, Inc. to sell but 30,000 of a projected 200,000 PDF copies of what it billed as the first-ever consumer-customized magazine. Consumers were able to pick content from five of eight Time, Inc. or American Express Publishing titles for the issue dubbed Mine-My Magazine, My Way. All of Mine’s 31,00 print copies were claimed by subscribers.

Information Today, Inc. reports a new service due this Fall, Journalism Online, promises to provide publishers with simple, flexible payment mechanisms for use on publisher websites and covering sales by subscription (multiple time durations, different content areas, etc.) and by item. Consumers who go directly to Journalism Online to set up their passwords will have the option to apply that same password to multiple purchases within the network of publishers established by Journalism Online or to pay a flat monthly fee for access to the entire network.

In a piece for Media Post Publication titled The Motor Is The Message, Jonathan Blum sketches the advance of in-car telematics and the new in-car apps they’ll afford. He concludes, “These new digital applications are not only tantalizing for marketers, but are pressuring automakers to start acting like consumer electronics companies and roll out new tools in 18-month cycles, rather than the traditional 2-4-year cycle of the auto industry.”

New York Times staffers have taken a 5 percent pay cut. . . .Gannett has linked 100 of its print and broadcast digital communities in a network reaching 25 million people. . . . reports Hachette Filipacchi (Car and Driver, Road & Track) is cutting rates it pays freelancers. . . . Flat Earth News author Nick Davies quote picked up by The Immediate Networks Press, PR and Media Digest: "The big lie you find all over the world from media corporations is that they can cut staffing and resources without damaging the quality of the news they produce." . . . Conde Nast has closed its much ballyhooed Portfolio business magazine launched in April 2007.


pit notes

Bill Maloney sent along two of his columns for the daily Honolulu Advertiser that dealt with auto shows on television. The first expressed his disbelief in the mid-60’s that a Motorsports show he wrote, produced and hosted in Chicago was worthy of a regional Emmy nomination. He contrasted that with today when there is an entire TV network devoted to the topic. During that time span he has produced 2300 car reviews for TV and registered at least 30 concepts for automotive TV shows with the Writers Guild of America - some of which have been aired by others. He asks, rhetorically, if that registration is worth anything. AWComs’s answer is that he can make a lot of lawyers rich by trying to find out. Among the show concepts he has in his WGA “vault”: “The Chargers" – a series about the world’s great stock car drivers; RPM International Journalism Awards; for a car wax sponsor, "Fantastic Finishes," auto races with close finishes and “The Car Lady.” If you are producing any of these Maloney will welcome royalties sent care of his Ohana Road TV show at ABC TV in Honolulu.

Not blowing up your racecar is a new rule for LeMons Series entrants, at least while participating in one of the races for wrecks. “In a nut shell,” says LeMons impresario Jay Lamm, “your exhaust shouldn’t fall the hell off or boil the gas in your tank.” Something of this sort happened at a recent LeMons race, with a resultant boom. . . . And, further evidence that the barbarians are at the gates, The Concurs d’ LeMons has been announced for the Monterey Peninsula in competition with the Pebble Beach primo showcase. This one features “the oddball, mundane and truly awful.” For a descent into this inferno, go to . . . A comprehensive calendar of race dates worldwide is available at

Harrell Engines and Racing Equipment is not a catalog but a history of drag racing from 1930 to the 60’s written by the nephews and great grandnephew of early hot rodders Jim and Nick Harrell. One or more of them will be on hand for a book signing May 30 at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, Calif. . . . Bob McClurg has modestly emailed from his new Hawaii base: “Ladies & Gentleman! I am in the process of completing my latest (10x10 coffee table book, 345-pages) dedicated to the life and times of Donald Frank Yenko. It will be titled, "YENKO! THE MAN, THE MACHINES, THE LEGEND!" The publisher is Car Tech, Inc. and the release date is scheduled for sometime around Christmas. Thank you for putting me on your list.” Contact him at:


AWcom for targeted news release distribution.

lane changes

Larry Crane has a new weekly blog devoted to French and Italian cars:  and he can be reached at: . . . Marti Eulberg has resigned  as President and CEO of Masarati North America and Raffaele Fusilli, the company’s global commercial director, is the interim replacement. . . . Ray Gehm ( is an assistant editor at SAE International and David Alexander has left. . . . Steve Wheeler ( has replaced Jerry Wallace as Wheels editor at the Baton Rouge Advocate. . . . Derek Stark has left Ward’s and Cliff Banks took on his duties.

Winding Road’s Kimberly Ewing has a new email address: . . . Also new for Owners Illustrated editor Damola Idowu is . . . Dan Sanchez’s email at The Enthusiast Network is  . . . Trevor Reed has departed Diesel Power Magazine. . . .Gabriel Pruett ( has replaced Ashley Sanders as editor of the Orange, Texas Leader. . . Joe Donovan at WWJ News Radio can be reached at

The Community Leader in Loveland, Ohio has dropped automotive coverage and Jim Gruber is no longer there . . . Laura Burstein left Edmunds.Com and freelances at home ( . . . Freelancer Tom Benford’s new email is . . . Chevy High Performance web editor Mike Payne can be reached at and Popular Hot Rodding web editor Ed Kimball at


across the finish line

David Poole - Charlotte Observer NASCAR reporter for 13 years. Considered the leader and most authoritative voice among NASCAR journalists.


- 30-


Glenn F. Campbell

table of contents



Special Alert: Chrysler Restructuring

Chrysler has established web site where media can access news releases, copies of court documents, memos to suppliers and employees and stay updated on the Chrysler LLC restructuring. It also has telephone hotlines available:
877-271-1568 for the U.S. and Canada and 503-597-770 for international queries. has produced a six-page industry analysis of the
current Chrysler situation.
For more information contact:
Dan Hall or Stephanie Brinley
 at 248-720-1351

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Petersen Museum’s Charity Gala
Brian Wilson Performing
Los Angeles, CA
May 7

Open House Academy of Art University School of Industrial Design
San Francisco, CA
May 9

MPG Spring Power Trip
 (3 Private Collections)
Los Angeles, CA
May 9

CAR Management Briefing Seminars Traverse City, Mich.
August 4-7

Pocono, PA
 Sept. 10-11


TAWA Spring Challenge
Writers’ Choice Awards

 The Car of Texas and Best New Design
2010 Camaro

Family Car of Texas
2009 Ford Flex

 Most Innovative
2010 Volvo XC60

Best Use of Technology
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
Best Value
2010 Kia Soul


May 2009
12 APA Luncheon, Eyes On Design, Detroit, MI
12 MPG Luncheon, TBA, Los Angeles, CA
21 IMPA, Spring Brake Driving Program, Harriman, NY
28 APA, Luncheon, Detroit, MI, Bob Lutz
June 2009
2 MAMA Luncheon, Bloomington Gold, Oakbrook Terrace, IL
9 MPG Luncheon, Los Angeles, CA
18 IMPA Luncheon, Mazda, NYC, NY
22 APA/J.D., Power Luncheon, Detroit, MI
25 MAMA/Toyota Luncheon, Oakbrook Terrace, IL
July 2009
13 MPG Luncheon, Los Angeles, CA
16 IMPA Luncheon, Cadillac, NYC, NY
16-17 NEMPA, Ragtop Ramble, Boston, MA
August 2009
11 MPG Luncheon, Los Angeles, CA


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.


Automotive Press Association, Detroit - Katie Kerwin


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, Port Orchard, WA-


Phoenix Automotive Press Association, Phoenix, Cathy Droz, President-


Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, Denver


Southern Automotive Media Association, Miami FL, Ron Beasley, President,


Southeast Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC


Texas Auto Writers Association, Harold Gunn, 


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


Western Automotive Journalists, San Francisco, Ron Harrison


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

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