The Road Ahead
The road ahead looks bumpy.
A good deal of the pessimism is prompted not
just by the 90 or more editorial jobs cut by Source Media International
but by the 6,000 jobs it slashed by closing its once profitable Source
Interlink Distribution operation. Keith J. Kelly, writing in his
York Post Media Ink column, May 30, describes the truly drastic
situation the magazine business is in. He says, "magazine publishers end
up shredding the bulk of the magazines — perhaps as much as 70 percent —
produced for sale at retail outlets."
Richard Truesdell's Facebook
posting takes off from Kelly's column to bemoan the broken business
model of magazine publishing. But it doesn't stop there. "The buff-books
are dying and the car blogs are right behind them" according to Bertil
Schmitt in his Daily Kanban rant of May 30. A veteran of decades in the
automotive communications trenches, he is critical of just about every
dimension of the auto-writing scene: the current crop of auto bloggers,
their writing, their relevance and their pay or lack thereof. He backs
his opinions by citing rankings of major car blogs, that "mostly have
been going sideways in 2013, a trend that could be observed for the last
few years . . ." A trend he likens to drowning on the Internet. The one
exception to the trend he attributes to its eager catering to "an
underage demographic where ‘penis' is a hot search word." Schmitt
predicts that car companies are already searching for ways to bypass the
blogger middlemen and take their product messages directly to the
Good news for GM CEO Mary Barra is USA Today's Jim
opinion, "Recalls becoming 'background noise'
that owners ignore." He quotes George Hoffer,
transportation economist at the University of Richmond,
"If every recall is publicly covered, it is no longer
an unusual event. The public will pay no attention."
Other experts quoted in his June14 story agree and most
see the rising total of recalls by all manufacturers as
1) a way for GM's competitors to avoid problems when the
NHSTA tightens its safety oversight after the GM
investigation and 2) a way to dim the spotlight on their
vehicle faults while "recall" is still synonymous with
An unusual aspect of the GM recall story is raised by
Joann Muller when she asks in a Forbes article, "Why Do
Women Think CEO Mary Barra Was Set Up To Take The Fall
At GM?" Reaction to her earlier Forbes cover story on Barra prompted the question. Her best answer besides the
"definitely not" she got from Dan Akerman, the man who
nominated Barra, was a finding by two research
psychologists that, "women are often promoted to
dangerous jobs during a crisis, then often dumped when
they can't clean up the mess." That may be true but
women who are familiar with how often women are paid,
promoted or empowered commensurate with their abilities
and experience or with men of no greater talent, might
have reason to raise an eyebrow.
The consensus of
many commentators is that Elon Musk opening his
electric car patents to competitors is a
case of "enlightened self-interest." For Tesla to
survive, it needs the industry's commitment to electric
car production to enjoy the benefits of volume parts
production, multiple research efforts and a growing
network of charging stations.
Not surprising, a report commissioned by the NADA titled
Consumers Benefit from a Franchised Auto Dealer Network revealed "factory-direct sales of new cars either sold
online or through factory-owned and operated retail
outlets have not resulted in lower prices for car buyers
or increased market share for manufacturers." The report
also stated "The new-car dealer franchise network is
the most efficient way to distribute and sell new cars
as well as provide convenient access to service over the
life of every vehicle." Famed auto industry analyst
Maryann Keller and her
firm, Maryann Keller & Associates, LLC.
prepared the report. A second report details Why The
Franchise System Works Best (in auto retailing). Both
reports are available from Charles Cyrill of NADA Public
Affairs. His email is CCYRILL@NADA.org. The reports are
part of a "Get The Facts" initiative by the NADA that
also includes videos and other materials, that can be
seen at www.nada.org/GetTheFacts.
Women-Drivers.Com web site
offers results of its study of "What Women Really Want
When Buying A Car." No, its not pink paint and
accessories to match.
The "Internet of Things" and "The Connected Car" sounded like
bright promises when they were around the corner but now that
they are nearly upon us, some doubts begin to arise. For
example, John Mello reports in TechNews.com that digital road
signs in the San Francisco area recently began flashing
"Godzilla Attack." Likely a harmless prank, as Mello notes, yet
the implications of inert devices becoming interactive include
malicious as well as mischievous hacksters, glitches and
In J.D. Powers' 2014 Initial Quality Study,
new technologies were the chief source of complaints by
purchasers of totally new or redesigned cars. The self-driving
car and its accompanying technical accoutrements are not likely
to be fail-safe out of the box. And now, Automotive News reports
a proposed bill in Congress would open up the exclusive
connected car frequency band to other wi-fi uses. Your
refrigerator could shut off your car's power steering. Then there is the distracted driving peril that comes with new
digital toys. Although, contrary to intuition, a study for the
U.S. Federal Highways Agency, reveals digital billboards are basically safe, according to
Erik Sass in Media
Daily News. He says the study revealed drivers were slightly
more likely to look at digital billboards than standard
billboards, but for the most part didn't look at either type of
billboard for more than two seconds -- the minimum threshold for
distracted driving. Good news for drivers but not so good news
for sellers of outdoor advertising. In any case, not as
distracting or startling as the roar of a posse of
Harley-Davidson motorcycles overtaking you on the highway.
Possibly one reason Harley has an electric motorcycle prototype
traveling the nation this summer in an effort to gauge consumer
The Washington Automotive Press Association reported it
succeeded in persuading Toyota to reverse the change in its
media test drive agreement that would have put the loss-payable
burden on the driver. Other auto press groups also expressed
their concerns about the change that comes up every few years or
so. . . On June 18, 24/7 Wall Street listed "The Ten Cars
Americans Don't Want To Buy." Based primarily on True Car's
report of the average time a new car spends on a dealer's lot after he or she
takes delivery, the ten and their days spent are: #10- Scion,
90.2; # 9- Dodge Avenger 96.5; #8- Lincoln MKS 97.0; #7-
Chevrolet Tahoe 101.5; #6 – Chrysler 200
102.5; #5 -Jaguar XK 102.7; #4-GMC Yukon 112; #3-
Cadillac Escalade 115.5;
#2- Mitsubishi Outlander 117.1; #1 – Volvo S60 155.5. . . . For
those who like to watch automobiles jumping and have the time
here's a visual thrill from GOPro.
. . .
And for those who want to check out Lebron James' auto bonifides,
BoldRide Daily provides this photo review of his collection:
Tesla's Elon Musk told Automotive News that flying cars are
possible now except for the safety and noise concerns fomented
by swarms of airplanes aloft. In the same article Toyota
acknowledged it is doing research on something like a "hover"
car. Media Daily News writes that Google's Chief Business
Officer, Nikesh Arora, told attendees at the Lions Festival in
Cannes levitating cars could be one of the big innovations to
come from technological advancements in the next five to 10
years. The eNewsletter writes that Arora and Google chief
Page discussed ways to
relieve the traffic congestion they saw as they were flying
across the country. Arora said, "increasing the dimensional
footprint that cars could drive in — up as well as across", was
one of the solutions. He cautioned however, "it's not going to
happen anytime soon."
Volkswagen asks for ideas and makes one
girls hover car a reality.
The Royal Oak Tribune reports that
Dan Gilbert, the man who is buying downtown Detroit building by
building, plans to acquire Gas Station TV based in Birmingham,
Mich. That company claims 50 million monthly viewers
at its gas pump screens installed at 2600 stations in 42 states.
Content is provided by ESPN, CNN, Bloomberg TV and
. . . Auto Channel has returned to the Boston market, exec. Vice
president and co-publisher Mark Rauch, reports. Many years ago
the Auto Channel show was seen weekly in the middle of the
night. Now it will be seen on Channel 3 from 1-5 pm and 8-11 pm
EST and various cable systems in the area . . . . Yahoo is set
to launch a big new video platform to rival YouTube. Wayne
Friedman reports in TVWatch that in an effort to catch up with
YouTube, Yahoo is offering content creators a better financial
split, more freedoms and will not demand exclusivity as YouTube
does. According to Friedman, Yahoo plans to introduce two
half-hour comedies next year.
"Amorality and impunity are a bad combination." That observation was
made by Bob Garfield in his blog for Media Post decrying the connivance
of big cable companies and the government to do away with net
neutrality. Titled "Hyman Roth Eat Your Heart Out." It notes that the merger of
Comcast and Time Warner
would give one company "control over one-third of the Internet in this
country -- one-third of the information, one-third of the economy,
one-third of the culture."
A Research Brief from the
Media Research says that a survey shows, "print and digital combined are
increasing audiences for newspapers globally but digital revenues are
not keeping pace, posing a risk for newspapers and the societies they
serve." . . .
Only 11 percent of Internet users are willing to pay for news online,
writes in Media Daily News, citing the 2014 Digital News Report from the
Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University. Sass
says that is no more than 2013's figure and the percentage of consumers who might be
willing to pay in the future is even lower.
One solution to the revenue
problem for print publications is
suggested by Ari Rosenberg in Online Print Insider: "Print Publishers
Should Pivot Back To Print." That is, offer the digital versions of
their products as a bonus to their print advertisers. For example, "Buy
24 pages and get two weeks of site exclusivity as added value. Buy 12
pages and you earn one week." Rosenberg quotes some statistics to show
ample online advertising monies are there and that the market has
established values for online ad impressions even though 26 million
pieces of content are posted on the social Web every day.
"Native" advertising, while still hot and a potential outlet for
writers, is getting lambasted by media critics such as Garfield and P.J.
Bednarski who writes about "Finessing Fuzzy" in VidBlog, says, "The
hottest issue in advertising, apparently, is disguising it enough to
fool the observer, but not enough so that it's totally impossible to
figure it out." Bednarski's recommendation, "Native advertising, however
they're flagged, shouldn't be shy to announce why they're there."
However, Garfield in his blog titled, "The Crusades Lasted 200 Years, I'm
Just Getting Started." says the native advertising segment would, "quickly disappear," if publishers who
"wish to run advertising that
could be mistaken for editorial content, prominently labeled it, "This
is an ad."
That won't happen because he believes "hardly anyone would bother to
read, much less click through, much less share a fake article -- the
very reason advertisers want to camouflage their ads as editorial
content to begin with. Anyone who tells you different is either a liar
NEMPA's new YouTube channel
debuted in June with full coverage of its annual MIT Tech Conference and
followed two weeks later with coverage of its meeting with Chrysler at
the Automation Garage. . . . Registration is now open for NEMPA's July
16-17 Ragtop Ramble And Crustacean Crawl on the Associations' web site.
Manufacturers sending cars should contact John Lawlor at 508-378-3023 or
IMPA is seeking volunteer help, an hour or more, for its annual
Days, September 17 and 18. The Test Days Coordinator is Paul Licata.
can be reached at Licatap02@aol.com. Because helmets will be required
for the on-track portion of the Test Days, IMPA has made special
arrangements with Driving Impressions for those who wish to
purchase one. Contact Bob Zecca and mention the IMPA Helmet Offer:
2014 WAPA President Melanie Batenchuk
published this reminder for WAPA media members who test drive press cars:
"Treat the car as if it were your own. That means parking it in a safe
location (perhaps a garage in the city), keeping it safe from dings and
scratches, and immediately notifying the manufacturer rep should
Return it better than how you received it. Keep the car clean and free
of debris inside and out. If able and have the means to do so, it's
helpful to the fleet management companies if you give it a quick wash –
or even a detail – and fill up the tank before returning it. The car you
received is typically going straight to another journalist, so this
helps cut down on their time having to prep.
Follow the rules. This should also go without saying, but follow each
manufacturer's rules. Some companies allow spouses to drive with
permission, others do not. Be courteous and respect the next person
driving the car by not driving it aggressively or irresponsibly, putting
a large amount of miles on the car without prior approval for a 'road
trip' and asking for permission rather than forgiveness.
NEVER smoke in the vehicles. Smoking in vehicles is prohibited by the
manufacturers. Some of our members are allergic to smoke and have had to
return cars to the fleet management companies. If someone smokes in a
vehicle, the fleet management company has to pull that vehicle from the
fleet, thoroughly rid the car of the odor and reconfigure vehicle-loan
schedules at the last minute. This is costly and wastes everyone's time.
Remember that driving a test vehicle is a privilege, not a right.
Journalists who damage test vehicles or drive these vehicles in a
reckless manner have had their test-driving privileges revoked—sometimes
permanently—by the manufacturers. All the manufacturers and fleet
management companies talk to each other, so they learn quickly who is a
responsible driver and who is not."
Ron Beasley advises that in addition to electing Bill Adam their new
SAMA members elected Paul Borden to serve again as vice president (his
fourth term as a vice president and he has served 2 years as President).
Pepe Delfino was elected Secretary and Marcello Serrato was reelected as
Treasurer. Immediate past-president Jaime Florez moves on to membership
on the Executive Board - with him.
Pictured are the winners in the
SAMA Topless in Miami competition (l-r) the Ford Mustang
GT in the Full-size competition, Chevrolet Corvette in
Performance/Roadster, Bentley Continental GT in the
Super Luxury/Exotic class, the Mazda MX5 Miata in Small
Convertible and Audi RS5 in the Luxury Convertible
The Concours d'Elegance at Plymouth, Michigan's Inn at St. John has
happening July 25-27th to exhaust the hardiest of auto aficionados.
There is an art exhibit, auto auction, German car exhibit (accompanied by
authentic German food), Italian happening, preview party and dancing in
the nearby city of Northville. Outdoor concert, private tours of the
Roush Automotive Collection and Museum, a lady's luncheon, informal
modeling, and silent auction sponsored by the ladies of the Mercedes
Benz-Club of America, a strolling dinner dance, seminars on
preservation, restoration of collector cars, the Forward Look designs of
Virgil Exner and the actual concours on Sunday, July 27.
For more details check:
Pat Ganahl will be signing his new book, Hot Rod Gallery, at
in Burbank, Calif. Saturday June 29. This book claims to cover it all
from the dry lakes, first drag strips and first speed shops on into the 60s. And,
with the veteran hot rod chronicler Ganahal at the
wheel, it easily could. . . . . It is hard to believe but the Petersen
Auto Museum celebrated its 20th Anniversary on June 19th.
To mark the occasion, admission was free to all. The day kicked off what
Petersen officials describe as "A Summer of Fun" with movies, concerts,
and talks embellishing the on-going specially curated auto displays and
awards & events
Based on the results of responses from over 92,000 new vehicle
owners, Lincoln is the Top Premium Brand and GMC, Top Popular
Brand in AutoPacific's 18th annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards
The vehicle - car or truck - registering highest overall
satisfaction is the new-for-2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class that also
wins AutoPacific's second President's Award for achieving the
highest VSA score ever. The truck with the highest overall
satisfaction score is the new BMWX5 SUV premium luxury
"The winners perform well in 50 separate categories that
objectively measure the
ownership experience." says George Peterson, president of
For the first time, NEMPA's Yankee Cup has been awarded to an
entire vehicle—and a truck, at that: the 2015 Ford F-150 pickup.
The Yankee Cup, presented each year by NEMPA, with input from
MIT's automotive engineering faculty, to a "feature or system
that significantly enhances the motoring experience, whether by
making driving safer, more cost-efficient or simply more
The SEMA Garage – Industry Innovations Center
open house in Diamond Bar, CA, July 17 celebrates the unique
facility's ability to help manufacturers develop automotive
parts and accessories from start to finish. Tools in the SEMA
Garage include a portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM), a
3D printer, digital race car scales, a dyno and emissions lab, a
training center, and a photo cove stocked with an abundance of
lights, strobe kits, umbrellas and more.
At least the last
part of this headline from Automotive News should hardly be a
surprise: "Hyundai-Kia tops J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study
for 1st time, dethroning GM." . . . . The very knowledgeable
Coach, Lauren Fix, has been named a juror for the 2015 North
American Car and Truck of The Year Awards. . . .The
First Pinehurst Concours Scholarship was awarded to Pinecrest
High School senior Cody Lunday, who participated in the 2014
Pinehurst Concours as a student judge. He plans to study
Automotive Technologies in college. . . . The Amelia Concours d'Elegance, increased its annual gift
to Spina Bifida of Jacksonville by 33 percent to $80,000. . . ."The Screwing of Katherine Legge" earned
Anne Proffit best
online column writing honors in the blind-judged 2014 AARWBA
writing, photography, broadcasting contest!
Across the Finish Line: John Bishop - Gentlemanly co-founder with his late wife,
Peggy, of the
International Motorsports Association (IMSA).
Micheline (Micki) Maynard, is the new director of the Donald W. Reynolds
National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University's
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She taught
at the Cronkite School as a Reynolds Visiting Professor in Business
Journalism during the 2014 spring semester. Most recently a senior
business correspondent for The New York Times, Maynard has authored four
worked for some of the nation's top news organizations and business
publications, (Forbes, Reuters, USA Today, United Press International,
among them) lectured at several colleges, universities and other
institutions and won numerous awards for her reporting and writing.
While a visiting professor at Central Michigan University, she
taught media entrepreneurship – a desirable skill in today's evolving
mass communications world.
Jean Jennings, who rose to editor-in-chief and president of Automobile
during her 29 years with the magazine was left or chose to stay behind
when its parent company, Source Interlink Media, decided to move the
magazines to its Los Angles offices. Jalopnik said she was "fired."
Source Interlink Media's news release announcing the move to L.A. and
her departure quoted the president of Source's Automotive Division, "Although we are sorry to see her leave, we are excited to support Jean
as she pursues her next venture in building Jean Knows Cars." Uprooting
a lifetime with family and friends for an uncertain future in the
not-so-Golden state doesn't sound like a tough choice. (Editor's note: AWCOM
has asked her for a valedictory to the print business and an update on
her Jean Knows Cars blog and brand.) . . . Mike Floyd is now
Automobile's editor-in-chief based in L.A. while deputy editor Joe DeMatio
and a few other editorial staff remain in Detroit working out of
Source's Motor City business office. Because the Automobile relocation
was part of a major contracting of Source's automobile titles, the new
editorial lineups will be sought when the smoke clears. For those who
have not read about the Source shake-up, try
Source Interlink Media Rebrands as
TEN: The Enthusiast Network
from SEMA eNews for a concise listing of the new magazine lineup. .
. Paul Hughes has replaced Kari Hamanaka as the auto contact for the
Orange County(CA) Business Journal. His email is
his telephone: 949-833-8373x236 . . . . Cara Picciano is the new contact
for Modern Luxury and Jezebel in Atlanta. Email her at:
. . . .Writer, stuntman and owner of Stunstage in Rochester, MI,
Matt Kein, asks email be sent to:
Matt@voteoncars.com .. . Tom Torbjornsen
has added High Gear Media to his string of outlets. His email remains:
Long-time automotive writer and editor Jon F. Thompson turned in
his keys late last year retiring from journalism after
nearly 43 years of
Thompson, a graduate of the journalism program at Cal State
Northridge who started his career in 1971 at the South Bay Daily
Breeze, a Copley paper in Torrance, Ca., and who also did a
stint at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, in San Gabriel, Ca.,
worked for Autoweek when that paper was published in Reno, was
editor of Road Test magazine, Pickup, Van & 4WD magazine and
Four Wheeler magazine, and feature editor at Cycle World. He
also did a stint as editor of Open Road, Toyota North America's
corporate blog before polishing off his career as a copy editor
at Times Community News, a local division of the Los Angeles
Thompson is the author of two books - "The Official CB Book,"
and "Ducati," and editor of "The Complete Corvette Restoration
and Technical Guide, Vol. 1" - and many freelance pieces and
He says he now spends his time traveling with his wife of 32
years, fishing, reading, posting in
The California Files, his
own blog, and just generally goofing off. He can be reached at
Glenn F. Campbell
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Luncheon, Redstone American Grill, Hyundai
Concours d'Elegance of America |
Short Lead Press Day, Plymouth, MI
Ragtop Ramble: Boston, MA
Open House, Gargage Industry Innovations Center, Diamond Bar, CA
Concours d'Elegance of America
| Plymouth, MI
CAR Management Briefing Seminar |
Travis City, MI
Concours d'Elegance |
Test Days, Monticello Motor Club
Paris Motor Show
| Media Days, Paris France
Paris Motor Show
| Public Days, Paris France
| Luncheon, Detroit, MI
| Truck Rodeo, San Antonio, TX
| Track Days, Rosamond,
| Luncheon: Chevrolet
| Consumer Reports, Luncheon, Detroit, MI
Keynote Breakfast & Ivy Award, Los Angeles Auto Show, Los
Los Angeles Auto Show
| Press Days, Los Angeles, CA
| Miami Int'l Auto Show Luncheon, South FL Auto Dealers
| Ride-n-Smiles Event
Los Angeles Auto Show
| Public Days, Los Angeles, CA
Dean Batchelor Awards Banquet. Los Angeles, MI
North American Int'l Auto Show |
Press Preview, Detroit, MI
North American Int'l Auto Show |
Black Tie Charity Event, Detroit, MI
North American Int'l Auto Show |
Public Days, Detroit, MI
Chicago Auto Show |
Media Preview, Chicago, IL
Chicago Auto Show |
First Look for Charity, Chicago, IL
Chicago Auto Show |
Public Show, Chicago, IL
Geneva Motor Show |
Press Days, Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva Motor Show |
Public Days, Geneva, Switzerland
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Once again, I am in awe of your ability to find what is
important in American journalism--and not just automotive. This
newsletter is superb from beginning (NYTimes), through the
middle (Tesla) to the end (all the news about Cervone, the
An excellent issue, particularly the opening commentary and the
Wade Hoyt farewell.
I've grumped before about today's on-line automotive "experts,"
but I'm depressed to hear that some denizens of the blogmob
don't want to pay their speeding and parking fines. Not that I'm
surprised. Having grown up in the Leo Levine Era, however, I am
astonished that Mercedes-Benz indeed pays fines and repair bills
for these poseurs.
Wade also accused some bloggers of producing blather. Again, I'm
not surprised. Because the majority of these "content providers"
do not realize how bad they are as writers and commentators,
they will continue to generate blather. But I suppose, like Road
& Track moving to Ann Arbor, it's a discomfort that we ancients
must get used to.
Life in Mississippi is pleasant, and I and my fellow capitalists
continue to search for oil and gas...occasionally finding some.
OK, so who's 'shilling' for Tesla now?
More seriously (well, not really) I'm glad you invited
Wade Hoyt to unburden
himself, and we all should appreciate his comments about ethical
behavior, bloggers and more. I told him I was sorry to see him
go, that he was one of the last of the Old Guard, the
reality-based guys who rely on common sense.
An Idea We'll Follow
I am a volunteer at the Revs Institute (was the Collier
Automotive Museum) in Naples, Florida. The season is now coming
to a close but get busy again in November. Check out:
www.revsinstitute.org that you might want to add to your next
newsletter, look for the video of the collection.
Is anyone out there in touch with Art Garner who just released
his Book "The Day They Stopped The Indy 500" which is centered
on the 1964 Sachs /Mac Donald double fatality?
I served as one of the engineers on the Halibrand Shrike that
Sachs was driving and the day after the incident, Norm Timbs
(Shrike Designer) and I were given permission to document the
accident site, which we did to gather data for our stress
I have been trying to reach Art but my contact information has
changed significantly since we met several years ago. Would you
please have him contact me at this e-mail address since I would
like to invite him to participate in a local gathering and we
will provide him with a work station so he can sell and
autograph his book. His cost for the space is zero.
And the same goes for others who participate on your site. The
date of the event is the last Sunday in June and the site is The
Automobile Driving Museum (ADM) located a five minute drive from
the LAX airport site.
Space for the authors Corner is limited, so all interested
parties should contact me at this E-mail address.
Thanks...and really enjoy the information you impart.
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American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association, Inc.
Norma "Dusty" Brandel
President, Exec. Director
Automobile Journalists Association of Canada
Automotive Press Association
Mark Phelan, President
American Racing Press Association
Stan Clinton, President
Eastern Motorsports Press Association
Ballston Spa, NY
Ron Hedger, President
Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association
Davis Adams, President
International Motor Press Association
Dave Kiley, President
Midwest Automotive Media Association
Kirk Bell, President
Motor Press Guild
Los Angeles, CA
Joni Gray, President
New England Motor Press Association
Craig Fitzgerald, President
Northwest Automotive Press Association
Nik Miles, President
Phoenix Automotive Press Association
Cathy Droz, President
Rocky Mountain Automotive Press
Andre Smirnov, President
Southern Automotive Media Association
Bill Adam, President
Southeast Automotive Media Organization
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