july 2009 newsletter

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Please note: we will not be publishing our newsletter in August. In the interim, items of interest will be posted to our blog.

Wolverine Furs - Distinctive Apparel - Outstanding Service. Located in the heart of the Motor City.
Distinctive Apparel - Outstanding Customer Service
Located in the heart of the Motor City

the road ahead

In his keynote at the American Association of Advertising Agencies in New Orleans, Bob Schieffer said, "that if the railroad companies had thought of themselves as being in the business of transportation, rather than just the business of railroads, they'd likely own all the airlines today. If the news media believes itself in the business of selling newspapers or aggregating television viewers, rather than being in the business of delivering the highest quality news experience over the best available media, they have already lost. Even worse is if news media outlets believe themselves in the business of delivering advertising rather than news.”- Joe Marchese writing in his June 16 Online Spin for Media Post Publications.

Speaking at the same conference, Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt advised publishers “. . continue to look to the business model that he believes is best suited to digital age, and which is the source of 97% of Google’s revenues–advertising. There’s room for other media business models–like subscriptions and micro-payments–but not at the same scale,” he argued. The reason: those models rely on scarcity, which the Internet continues to break down. “The Internet distribution model doesn’t work on scarcity, it works on ubiquity.” - As reported by Jessica E. Vascellaro for the WSJ Digital Network.

Ironically, a recent Nielsen survey revealed that reader’s trust in newspaper advertising dropped 2 per cent last year. But the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism believes, “The death of newspapers is not imminent, despite news of bankruptcies and even some closures. The industry still took in roughly $38 billion last year, and earned profits in double digits. Some 48 million newspapers are sold everyday. Even newspapers whose companies are in bankruptcy are profitable. But revenues fell 14% last year, and have fallen 23% in two years. The industry lost 11% of its newsroom jobs last year, and more than that at larger papers. By the end of 2009, a quarter of all the newsroom jobs that existed in 2001 will be gone.”.

“Certainly, the Web is an amazing reporting tool in the hands of almost anyone and has enabled all manner of efforts by bloggers and others to reveal stories. But some stories are beyond the database. Sometimes, people have to make the calls, hit the streets and walk past the conventional wisdom” - David Carr, The New York Times.

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new roads

AutobidsOnline is a relatively new web site modeled after the PriceLine concept of bidding on a car. . . . AutoWeek has initiated a free DailyDrive-e-Newsletter sign up at  . . . Jay Penske apparently is out to build a media empire to rival his father Roger’s auto empire.  His owns video website, recently purchased Deadline Hollywood and plans to launch www.Fans.Com a sports site as part of a strategy to provide exclusive rather than aggregated content . . . . MagCloud is an online publishing service that enables anyone to publish his or her own magazine. Upload a PDF and MagCloud will print, mail, manage subscriptions and all else with design the only upfront cost. Magazines are only printed when ordered. . . . GO is an adventure travel magazine for very affluent men published by Outside and reviews top luxury cars in its content.

Chris Crum reports in WebPro News that Journalists Get Some Love with two new Google features that make it easier for users to find articles by their favorite writers. They can click on an author’s name to find other articles he or she has written and they can also subscribe to an RSS feed of a writer’s work . . . . Alan Mutter, a veteran newspaper editor and entrepreneur widely known as the Newsosaur and his business partner, Ridgely Evers, are pitching a targeted-advertising and e-commerce system that, in an intriguing twist, would be owned by the newspaper industry. As reported by Zachary M. Seward on the Nieman Journalism Lab site, Mutter’s system, labeled View Pass, would return profits to the newspaper industry and by sharing reader data would be able to provide marketers with more targeted and therefore more valuable advertising. Mutter says, “Ads would be more relevant to the reader, not necessarily to the content of the page."


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. 

Brett Becker sticks up for print in his rejoinder to Gary Grant’s Tom-Tom of last month. Becker is a freelance writer and photographer who writes and shoots for Web and print titles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's in mass communication from the University of Central Florida.

In Defense of Print

In last month’s Tom-Tom, an amateur blogger, ostensibly emboldened by his own self-published Web site, disparaged print media. That’s certainly nothing new, and he is entitled to his opinion. In fact, we see similar beliefs expressed regularly in the newsletter. | Tom-Tom | Brett Becker

Brett Becker

Before I touch on last month’s erroneously titled missive from  proprietor Gary Grant, “Why Traditional Print Media Sucks,” allow me to defend print by examining what it does that other media cannot.

Foremost, print media actually can hold people’s attention for more than 500 words, and print is the best medium for making complex issues understandable. People will read features and other long-form journalism in a magazine or newspaper, but are less likely to click past the first page of Web site copy. What’s more, university research has shown fairly conclusively that retention is greater when subjects read a story on paper compared with a computer screen.

From other studies, we also can establish that what appears in a magazine has greater perceived value than the same user-posted message online. Commodity theory holds that people tend not to value what comes easily to them. The theory also stipulates we tend to value what we must work for, which is why a letter to the editor printed in, say, Road & Track has greater perceived value than a comment following a blog entry on Why? Because editors are gate-keeping what gets into a magazine, your letter must be lucid to be printed. If it does get printed, it shows third-party acknowledgement of your position, which adds value to it.

Now, any nitwit with an Internet connection can have his comments seen instantly, regardless of whether they are worth reading—virtual graffiti at its finest.

Print media also require no electricity. Print is portable and can be read anywhere there is light. Download delays are nonexistent and logging off is as simple as closing the cover. Because paper isn’t fragile, you can toss a printed product into your briefcase without concern. Even a Web-savvy publisher such as Bonnier Corporation chief executive officer Terry Snow agrees that there is no better journalistic medium for showcasing fine, large-format photography than a glossy magazine.

In terms of advertising, industry studies have shown repeatedly that readers, in large measure, do not object to ads in magazines. In fact, they welcome them as part of the product, particularly in vertical markets. The same argument cannot be made for television, radio or Internet. And as Grant rightly points out, advertising is what makes the ball roll.

Yet, if the Internet is so omnipotent, why is it that so many Web sites offer contributors such dismal pay rates for content, if any compensation at all? For example, Internet Brands, a publicly traded company that owns more than 100 enthusiast sites, pays freelancers all of $10 for 400- to 600-word stories, and around $4 for 100- to 250-word briefs. That’s why you still find the best writing and photography in print titles—because they typically pay a decent rate.

With regard to last month’s Tom-Tom, Grant says that because one print journalist, in this case Sam Mitani with Road & Track magazine, admitted not wanting to meet with a reader who lived half a country away, traditional print media are falling apart. Through what could only be described as magical inductive reasoning, Grant says Mitani’s lack of interaction with that one reader demonstrates “why traditional print media sucks (sic)”—they do not—and why new media newcomers are “stealing the thunder away from many of the old boy’s (sic) club,”—they are not.

Grant goes on to say that an Internet site’s sense of community and its readers’ ability to respond to, interact and meet with staff are why they continue to “steal readers.” “Building a real-world community alongside the virtual one builds brand loyalty,” he claims. That’s an easy argument to make, but he never substantiates exactly how that occurs or provides any examples. So many blog responses and forum posts I’ve read are caustic and snide—due to the anonymity index of the Web—that Grant’s point about a sense of community is essentially meaningless.

However, the most galling aspect of Grant’s argument—aside from his claim that his site content is as polished as the copy in a newspaper or Road & Track—is that Mitani’s comments were taken out of context. If you read all of Mitani’s column, Grant’s argument is essentially moot.

In fairness, Grant might be able to cobble together a car review, maintain an amateur blog site and “steal” a few readers. But there is so much more to publishing than that. Is he creating any new readers? Is he adding anything of value? Is he doing anything a thousand other amateur bloggers are not? I doubt that as much as I doubt his baseless and irrelevant opinions on the future prospects of print media.

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



Old Focals - Vintage and Contemporary Eyewear

autowriters spotlight Autowriters Spotlight: Chris Poole

Chris Poole

There are a few auto writers whose words and deeds bring them fame or notoriety and sometimes money along with it. Most, however, survive and thrive by quietly doing a consistently outstanding job of delivering what the outlet they are working for requires. Often their best measure of attainment in their craft is what their colleagues have to say about them. Here is one such, written by John Biel on the occasion of Chris Poole’s 30th anniversary with Consumer Guide.

“When Chris Poole reported for work on his first day as an Automotive Editor for Consumer Guide, there were four American automakers, most cars had carburetors, and, as far as anyone knew, a “minivan” was a Ford Econoline with Minnesota license plates. The date was June 18, 1979.

Thirty years later, Chris--the first person hired by CG’s parent company specifically as an Auto Editor--is still at it, reviewing new vehicles, covering auto shows, and writing “Future Car” articles. Only now, in another sign of how much the world has changed, he’s doing it for a website.

As might be expected, Poole’s roots in CG’s automotive operations have grown deep and wide. Apart from keeping tabs on the evolving auto industry and its products over the last three decades, he has contributed to or edited many of the marquee and period history books prepared by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide since the late 1970s. When the department launched Collectible Automobile, its award-winning bi-monthly automotive-history magazine, in 1984, Chris was its Editor-in-Chief and guided CA through its first 18 issues. He still serves the magazine as Editor-at-Large, pitching in to edit some of its feature articles and writing an occasional piece himself.

Poole expanded Consumer Guide’s horizons in late 1986, when he forsook chilly Chicago for the sultrier climes of Southern California and established himself as West Coast Auto Editor. That allowed him (and CG) to keep tabs on the influential California market and to interact regularly with the many car-company executives assigned to the area. He moved to Peoria, Arizona, in 2007.

A graduate of the University of Florida, Chris had careers in commercial radio and hospital-based educational media before he turned his lifelong passion for cars into a job as an automotive journalist. Poole’s radio experience came in handy in his California years, when he often sat in as a co-host of a weekly car-themed program in Los Angeles. He’s also appeared in television programs on the History Channel and Speed Channel. He’s currently president of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association and a jury member for the annual North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Awards.“

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spectators row

Larry Printz, writing for the McClatchy Newspapers, provided a list of fresh automotive titles for summer reading. Among them are:

  • "Dean Jeffries: 50 Fabulous Years in Hot Rods, Racing & Film" by Tom Cotter; Motorbooks (192 pages, $40)
  • "Camaro: A Legend Reborn" by Larry Edsall; Motorbooks (144 pages, $30)
  • "It's Only Original Once" by Richard Lentinello; Motorbooks (192 pages, $35)
  • "Porsche Sixty Years" by Randy Leffingwell; Quayside (348 pages, $60)
  • "Art of the Hot Rod" by Ken Gross; Motorbooks (240 pages, $40)

For Printz’ brief, knowledgeable description of each title, Google: New Car Books To Rev Up Your Summer or go to

And for winter reading, Bob McClurg advises that his new book, Yenko, The Man, The Machines, The Legend can be ordered now for January 2010 delivery from CarTech, Inc. 39966 Grand Ave, North Branch MN. 5506; by telephone 1-800-551 4754 or email at He says it is, “The only full and complete history of Yenko Sportscars, Inc., covering each and every specialty car produced.”


pit notes

“Fraud” is a tough call to make publicly but “Landspeed” Louise Noeth says she has chronicled and photographed, “too many people struggling and sacrificing, some even giving their lives to set a landspeed world record, to allow the heritage and community of landspeed racers to be demeaned or 'hi-jacked' by a television stunt."  Accordingly, she issued a press release titled "TV’s Jesse James fraudulently claims besting BMW’s FIA ratified hydrogren-powered World Record Speed Record.” She should know when to call a fraud a fraud in the landspeed community. She was part of Don Vesco’s world record-setting team and she authored “Bonneville, The Fastest Place on Earth,” now in its seventh printing. Her complaints with the TV show’s claim are: 1) The requisite flying mile runs in both directions within one hour were not done; 2) There was no independent FIA or USAC sanctioning personnel timing the event, all timing was done by personnel from the TV show; 3) Instead of being timed over a one mile course, the stunt was timed one way for 132 feet in a drag racing style top-speed trap -“5,148 feet short of a world-record.” 4) Even assuming the speed trap figures are correct, Noeth notes, they prove nothing with respect to BMW’s hydrogen-powered world record of 185 mph because that was the average of two mile-long runs in opposite directions. And, the El Mirage, California course where the stunt was staged is too short for a flying mile record run. Sounds as legitimate as reporting on the war in Afghanistan from a set at Universal Studios. Noeth says 47 of 48 responses so far to her news release are favorable and many blogs and online sites are taking down the TV show’s news release on the stunt. While she has reason to believe the show knew the full requirements for setting a world record before they began, she says the show’s response to her objections to the claim was “unprintable.” Click here to read Noeth’s press release.

Not yet descended into name-calling, is a situation in New England similar to one of the many Carroll Shelby legends. He allegedly convinced AC in Great Britain that he had powerful engines coming from Ford and convinced Ford he had chassis’s coming from AC and was able to create something from nothing – the Cobra. Car schlepper STI, in an apparent attempt to compete against the benign semi-monopoly for bicycling press cars out of Boston, cold-called many media outlets in the region - ostensibly at the urging of STI’s car maker clients - and dangled the prospect of a new cars to test drive, provided weekly from STI’s Boston office. All that was needed to get a new car to drive every week was initiating a car column/report/review. Convince outlets to create auto coverage and convince its car maker clients to pay to have their vehicles delivered to them. A familiar if not popular gambit used around the country. In Boston, however, STI’s cold calling ran into Ezra Dyer, current president of the New England Motor Press Association, who raised some questions. One of the nation’s better-known auto writers, Dyer was surprised to learn STI had a Boston office and a fleet of press cars to draw on whenever the managing editor might choose to initiate a car column. For example, at The Improper Bostonian where Dyer has been writing for nine years - and has never missed an issue. When he asked STI which manufacturers were urging the cold calls, STI’s replies were as dismissively stonewalling as any from a D.C. politician’s office. Classic PR non-speak. Click here to read the Dyer-STI correspondence.

From a June 21 piece entitled, Reliable Automotive Reviews, that appeared on the Travel Insurance Review web site, “the Internet is reliable as far as automotive reviews are concerned because there is no pressure from any manager or editor to cut down on the criticism because it is bad publicity for the car brand.” Really?

World’s fastest female swimmer, Fredrica Pellegrini, with the new Maserati GranTurismo S Automatic

No socially correct inhibitions here! Good-looking, fast and Italian were reasons enough for Maserati to issue a news release and photos showing the world’s fastest female swimmer, Fredrica Pellegrini, with the new Maserati GranTurismo S Automatic delivered to her recently. No, swimsuit shots were not included. . . . In case you missed it, a host of consumer groups petitioned the FTC to make it easier for consumers to compare fuel economy ratings when car shopping. You can check out the requested changes on our blog.


AWcom for targeted news release distribution.

lane changes

Jason Vines, who has held the top communications posts at Nissan, Ford and Chrysler, has left the auto industry to sell prophets for profit at Zondervan, a Christian book publisher based in Grand Rapids, Mich. that is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. As vice president of public relations and communications he will direct communications initiatives and will lead brand development for Zondervan and its authors. . . . . Dave Sedgwick has left Automotive News. His replacement as editor is slated to be announced August 1. Other missing from the publication’s masthead: Harry Stoffer, David Kushma, and Alysa Webb. While Chrissie Thompson is a new reporter there.

Bruce Smith writes that he is now editor for Custom Rigs published by Randal Reilly Publishing and enjoying a new twist on the vehicle-customizing scene "where the boys are the same but the toys are much, much bigger.” His new email: or He also has moved from Long Beach, Miss. to Tuscaloosa, Ala. And his company, Editorial Services, has been merged with Larry Walton’s Oregon-based Editorial Services West: . . . . Gene Sanchez has departed Next News Network and has not been replaced. Donny Nordlicht is the automotive networks production coordinator there . . . . . Jim Altemus supplants Dan Hubbard at Skip Barber Racing. . . . Dick Needham advises that he is no longer involved in auto writing . . . Freelancer Scott Black has changed his email to . . . Matt Emery’s new email is

Jaime Florez' Megazines is out of business but he isn’t, writing for 3 Spanish language newspapers and hosting an ESPN radio show in Spanish on Sundays. His correct email is . . . Features editor Ann Walter replaces Heather Gascoigne as auto contact at The Racine Journal (Wis.) Her email is . . .Seth Fletcher is the auto motive tech contact at Popular Science . . . DeWitt Boyd is retired. . . Editor David Vitrano replaces Kevin Chiri as automotive contact at the La Place L’Observateur (Lou.) . . . Christopher Diken is no longer with Forbes nor is Kimberly Ewing with Winding Road. David E. Davis, Jr. is back writing for Car and Driver . . . John Teresko who worked as a journalist for 50 years, retired from Industry Week at the end of June after working for the magazine since its launch in 1970 . . . Sam Hartle replaces Matt Kelsey as the Kansas City Kansan auto contact . . . Leanne Hamilton is the business editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer but she is on leave until August 9. In the interim, email should go to Former Volkswagen and Detroit Chamber of Commerce PR guy Bob Stockton is mostly retired but reports he is keeping his hand in writing for The McCormick Messenger in McCormick, S.C.


across the finish line

Daniel Weiland - for four years a fleet driver for ESI at Dallas, Tex. succumbed on June 13 to juries incurred from a May 29 motorcycle accident.


- 30-

See you in September!


Glenn F. Campbell

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The 2009 Excellence in Craft Competition of the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) for entries published, broadcast or disseminated online between June 1, 2008 and August 1, 2009. Contact Durhl Caussey:

Ken Gross was presented the Lifetime Achievment Award at the
18th International Automotive Media Awards in Detroit, June 23.
Karl Ludvigsen was honored for “the best of 2008”. A 2 1/2 page list of winners, some with more than one gold award, is available by email request at:

Porsche and Ford Motor Company earned top honors in the 2009 Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), announced by automotive research firm AutoPacific. The IVAs are based on owners' ratings of their new 2009 model year cars and trucks across 15 key vehicle attribute. For a complete listing of winners email


July 2009
14 MPG Luncheon, Los Angeles, CA, Yokohama Tire
13-17 Storage Week, 2009, San Diego Marriott, La Jolla, CA, call (818) 888-4444 
16 IMPA Luncheon, Cadillac, NYC, NY
16-17 NEMPA, Ragtop Ramble, Boston, MA
19 Art Center College of Design Car Classis, Pasadena, CA
23 SAMA, Luncheon, Rusty Pelican, Miami, FL, TBA
August 2009
1-3 Consumer Guide’s Mike Quincy solicits your donations in his 190 mile bike ride in the Pan-Mass challenge fund-raiser for cancer cures. Send an egift to: his ID is MQ0016
4-7 Center For Automotive Research Management Briefing, Traverse City, MI
11 MPG Luncheon, Los Angeles, CA
13-16 The Monterey Weekend, America’s Premier Display of Historic, Classic and Exceptional Vehicles
15 Concours d'LeMons--Celebrating the Oddball, Mundane, and Truly Awful of the Automotive World, Toro Park, Monterey, Calif.
16 Detroit Tech Crawl
17 MAMA, Oakbrook Terrace, IL, Chrysler
20 SAMA, Luncheon, Rusty Pelican, Miami, FL, Nissan
September 2009
1 APA Luncheon, Detroit, MI, BMW
8 MPG Luncheon, Proud Bird, Los Angeles, CA, TBA
10-11 IMPA Test Days, Pocono Mountains Int'l Raceway, Long Pond, PA
26 Ironstone Concours d'Elegance, Murphys CA, featured car: 1937 Airmobile
30 HIS Global Insight Global Automotive Conference, Detroit, MI


motoring press organizations

The 15 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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thank you

It is nice to be invited and I thank all those who have asked me to join their social network be it LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter, Facebook. etc. I have not responded because I really do not believe I could be a meaningful contributor to these digital relationships.

I am reclusive by nature and linear in my actions, that is. I go to a store for something I need, buy it and get out. The same with my Internet time, Philosophically, I have an aversion to diversion as an end in itself.

Undoubtedly I would enjoy some laughs, gather a few insights, even broaden my horizons, all good arguments for participating but not sufficient in my mind when people who have something to say to me can email me direct and I can do likewise. But the tide is rolling in the other direction so I welcome thoughts on why my stance is ante Eluvium.


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