july 2010 newsletter

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the road ahead

Clouds of content are circling overhead and many experiments in making money by delivering that content to consumers are underway and for good reason.

The Road Ahead:Clouds of Content July 2010
Photo by: Flavio Takemoto

As Dan Coates comments in his Perfect Marketing column for Media Post: “While the Internet doesn't quite represent a perfect market where individuals have perfect information and benefit from perfect competition, it's much closer to perfection than ever before.”

It is not just the technology that is changing. Citing a recent study, by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Kantar (“The New Consumer Behavior Paradigm") Coates contrasts Gen Y with previous consumers and says: “While other generations use these same (Internet) tools and technologies to make comparisons and guide their purchase decisions, they do so with the spirit of a convert rather than that of a true believer. Gen Y has never not had these tools at their disposal.” As well documented by declining print circulation figures, Gen Y is far more inclined to go online than open a newspaper or magazine.

Their reliance on the Internet makes paywalls promising despite contrary findings from surveys that undoubtedly included a high proportion of Gen X and Boomer respondents. That’s why Rick Edmonds surmises on Poynter Online’s Business Blog that the big players are getting serious about paywalls. He cites News Corp’s investment in Journalism Online and acquisition of the Skiff E-Reader from Hearst and Google’s development of NewsPass and a number of variations on the trend. Among the latter: MediaNews while seeking bankruptcy protection and Gannett while seeking solutions to floundering, staff-depleted and content-starved small dailies in its chain. Also noteworthy are Yahoo and AOL adding content farms, leading it was suggested to “an itunes of news.”

John Blossom, in his Shoreline Newsletter takes a less sanguine view in his review of most of the current paywall attempts but does offer high praise for one Internet innovation that also seems to offer opportunity for auto writers. It is Main Street Connect. It puts the focus on new ways to include local merchants (car dealers?) and community members in the editorial mix.

Whatever evolves, Coates’ conclusion seems a certainty: “Gen Y is at the beginning of the arc of its economic power. What we see today will be rapidly extended and expanded beyond our current context as technology evolves and the largest generation in American history begins to participate fully in the economic activity of our society.”

What do you think? Comments: Content Clouds & Paywalls


autowriters spotlight Autowriters Spotlight: Cliff Atiyeh

Cliff Atiyeh

Unless you are a self-proclaimed pundit who goes straight from your conceit to your own blog, it’s not a straight path to work as an auto writer, as Cliff Atiyeh recounts in this month’s Spotlight.

Back in 1995, I didn’t know automotive journalism was an actual business. I was nine years old, leafing through my first issue of Motor Trend, wondering how these writers could drive a yellow Porsche across Europe and call that a job. It was wild folklore, and editor C. Van Tune might as well have been Gandolf. Month after month I was hooked: reviews, comparison tests, wacky letters to the editor, concept art, gossip. Until I graduated high school, I couldn’t eat a bowl of cereal without a car magazine.

I realized two things before setting off to Boston University for a journalism degree. First, I’d need to move to Michigan (do I have to?) or California (right away) if I ever got a magazine job. The second part involved waiting for enough writers to die off the mastheads. I figured 20 years. Auto writers aren’t like professional athletes, in that they almost never retire. And who can blame them? When I’m 80, I want to be tearing around a track in the 2070 solar-hydrogen M3, not tending an organic vegetable garden.

I haven’t yet been published in a major magazine. Every time I try, another newspaper reels me in. In college I interned for two summers at the Record-Journal in Meriden, Conn., where I covered the 2003 New York Auto Show for their business section. Unlike most local papers, they actually paid me. Three years later I was writing about New York from London during a study-abroad semester at The Times. I wrote for the online auto section, read lots of Jeremy Clarkson, drank one too many beers for lunch, and wrangled a free ticket to the British Grand Prix. I was paid for that, too.

Now I’m the unofficial auto guy at The Boston Globe for both online and print. This is my third year. But first I had to take a dirt-pay layout job at a free newspaper, only to be fired and frustrated for six months. In that time I saw a job posting for that wanted someone to edit the auto section, but required meeting “product revenue” and “key performance indicators.” Editorial people don’t talk like that, but I thought it was a good way to get my name in a major newspaper. I didn’t realize how good until print staff were being bought out by the dozens, including auto writer Royal Ford, or laid off.

No one on got booted, and no one was covering cars. In 2008, I convinced the bosses to start a car blog, Boston Overdrive, to start building a voice. Soon I got talking to John Paul of AAA, whose “Car Doctor” advice column I posted each week. He got talking to journalists in the New England Motor Press Association, which had connections to nearly every automaker. Months later, they forced me to dress in an elf costume and play trombone to a crowd of national PR reps during a Christmas party. I’m on the billing till I retire, if that ever happens.

Turns out auto journalism isn’t impossible to join, it’s just a small world. Of all the writers in the Geneva Auto Show press room, I ran into Motor Trend’s Angus MacKenzie. Ezra Dyer lives 20 minutes south of me here in Boston. We even talk on the phone. Well, one time.

At 24, I’m living what I’ve always dreamed about as a little boy. I can visit an auto show and have the same car sitting on my driveway weeks later. I’m invited to fancy press trips, but get uncomfortable by the lure of free vacations. I’m finding the tipping point between editorial independence and advertising dollars. I’m certainly not in this for the money.

I joke that I’ve spent my whole life driving cars that aren’t mine. I came to work today in a Mercedes SL63. This is a real job, right?

Comments: Cliff Atiyeh - Autowriters Spotlight


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. 

John Rettie is a freelancer, with the emphasis on being free to pursue his light. Going on staff when it works and leaving when it doesn’t, he has been on staff for Meyer’s Publishing, Ward’s Communications, J.D. Power and Associates and The New York Times among others in an auto writing career that began in England in 1971. He also writes on photography, has designed and built auto parts, raced cars and originated the Automotive PR Survey conducted by MPG.

Living Content Is Worth Sharing

Like many of you, I’ve enjoyed reading the ongoing debate about the future of auto journalism, especially as I am now one of those “old and bald” journalists. Tom-Tom: John Rettie

John Rettie

Almost 40 years ago I was a fresh-faced writer who started working on a small magazine in the UK. I had no degree in journalism but I was enthusiastic and realized how lucky I was to be in my dream job. My salary was poor -- you know the rest of the story.

A few weeks ago someone told me there was an opening listed on CareerBuilder for an automotive writer in my hometown, Santa Barbara. It looked promising. It read as if a major newspaper or magazine was looking for an experienced auto journalist. Only this was for

Several established auto writers are indeed writing for Examiner and a few are making some money but I don’t know of anyone making a decent living doing this.

Writer’s forums have been full of discussions about content mills, the derogatory name given to websites that seek writers to crank out copy on every subject under the sun.

In fact just as I was on a final edit I read the following, penned by Nik Usborne, on

“Most web content is barely alive, even when it is first written. It is pumped out by content mills, optimized and uploaded. This kind of bulk content is often referred to as backfill content. I prefer the term “landfill content.” Dead and rotting from day one. In sharp contrast, living content is quality content. It is shared quickly through social media—because it is worth sharing—and takes root across the web. Better still, true living content is updated and added to on a regular basis.”

I’m sure everyone echoes this sentiment.

It’s true that Examiner appears to be a cut above these sites it has nonetheless been included in the discussions at times.

Traditionalists see a relentless downward push on the quality of writing and the rate at which writers are paid. It’s perhaps even more worrisome to read that Fortune magazine is now accepting articles for which it does not pay.

It’s sad.

Some call it “SEO marketing of content for dummies.” As long as content shows up well on search engines and enough people click on them the content generators will make money. Some of these content mills supposedly make millions of dollars a year yet their writers, sorry content producers, are not making much at all.

Nevertheless, there are many young writers, and even some seasoned out of work writers, who are happily producing features for these sites despite the low pay. And it appears there are plenty of people signing up to produce content.

I think this confirms there have always been thousands of people who relished the idea of writing and seeing their prose published. Of course, in the “old days” it was only a few who were fortunate enough to land gigs that enabled them to see their work in print.

Now anyone can start a publishing company at virtually zero cost. However, the chances of making a lot of money are still slim. Perhaps these content mills are currently a better way for new writers to get started – at least they make some money.

Despite all these dramatic changes nothing has really changed. Pretty much every one of us “old farts” started at ground zero as an unpaid intern or an entry level cub reporter before making anywhere near a living wage.

Since it’s now so much easier to get started we have thousands more trying their hand at writing, photography, and even movie making. Pretty soon we’ll reach saturation and hopefully the best sites with the best content will grow and the weak ones will wither.

Within a decade, I bet we will return to seeing the best content producers making a decent living. We will then look back on the massive changes going on at present and realize that every trade and profession has been radically altered by the digital age. Heck, by then even the healthcare industry, which is one of the last to be “digitized” will surely be undergoing transformation.

Comments: Living Content is Quality Content

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


passing scene

Chrysler’s Ed Garsten was quoted by Bradford Wernle in Automotive News with this frank assessment of auto journalism in his explanation of why the carmaker shut down its freewheeling Firehouse Blog, “While still depending on the press for important coverage of our company, we're now able to also promote our news, positions, and products directly to the public through social media without waiting, hoping the media will pick up particular stories or angles that benefit us.”.

The Journalism Shop began last summer as a co-op of former Los Angeles Times staffers. It is looking to add highly qualified journalists from across the country (international applicants will be considered). The expansion is timed with the launch of Ebyline, a web-based marketplace designed to match freelance reporters with carefully chosen publishers. Membership in the Journalism Shop is $100.00 per year and applicants must have five years experience at a major newspaper and not have a full time job, among other requirements. For more information see:

An article citing instances of auto journalists influencing the design of cars can be read at: . . . Joe Marchese reports in Online Media Daily (June 16) that online advertising is poised to supplant newspapers as the world’s No.2 ad medium, according to a recent report by ad agency Interpublic's Magna Global unit. . . . Citing a report by SFAppeal blogger Eve Batey, SFWeekly says You Tube is working on some clandestine journalism projects in San Francisco. Batey, who was among those contacted, says she was referred to an Atlantic Magazine article, "How To Save The News” to explain what was underfoot. From that article, SFWeekly quoted: “Amateur-produced video is perhaps the most powerful new tool of the Internet era in journalism…The idea behind the various YouTube projects is that the same newspapers that once commanded an audience with printed reports…could re-create their central role by becoming a clearinghouse for video reports.”- perhaps the motivation for Kelley Blue Book’s amateur car review video contest.

The aforementioned Joe Marchese wonders in a July 6 column, “if there will be any news sources that can be distinguishable from editorial opinion produced to attract the largest audience at the lowest cost.” His concern is: “The ability of well-researched (re: expensive) journalism to monetize effectively is nonexistent today in a digital world that can, and does, churn out more content everyday than people can possibly consume.” . . . A behavioral marketing firm will soon be checking your emotions and sending ads to please them. Laurie Sullivan, reports in Behavioral Insider, (June 16), Lotame "will soon have the ability to scan content across the Web, as people create it, and associate content creators with the emotions they express about brands, activities and other topics.”

Comments: Passing Scene

road signs

Steve Smith, reports for Behavioral Insider: “According to Peerset, an ad targeting venture that leverages social data in a unique way, our interests are reflected most accurately by our expressions online rather than our browsing history.” For example:” If you mention the word "chocolate" here and there in your online blog and comment posts, the odds are pretty good you are also interested in Audis, lacrosse, Easthampton and weeds.”

J.D. Power and Associates, famous for its quantitative measures of consumer behavior when it comes to car buying, is now adding that sort of qualitative research for its clients. Writing for Marketing Daily, Karl Greenberg, says the company’s new Auto Intelligence Monitor, combines data and insight from social media conversations about automaker brands and models with marketplace retail sales and segment data. In a semi-scholarly post for the U.K.’s Car Rental, Mark Rainford writes, “magazines are developing the core competencies required for a multi-platform future. Auto journalists will always need to be good to write, but soon every journalist is expected to be proficient in video production, presentation, editing, and some may need to know how we can develop electronic media such as Web pages and online magazines. The Internet should not be seen as a problem for auto magazines but more of a price change."

And quotes Autocar editor-in-chief Steve Cropley: “It could be suggested that Autocar has become a hybrid magazine, printed and distributed each week, but also with a daily updated online presence at

Permalink/Comments: Road Signs


grand stand
If anyone pursues the offer in the following letter, AWCom, would appreciate a report on how it turned out.

An open letter to automotive writing associations in North America

“We need to make accountability, integrity—excellence—cool again.”

I’m pretty positive you (and your members) have been getting the wrong advice when it comes to social media and the Internet in general.

It makes my blood boil when I read half-baked strategies for success online. I cringe whenAutowriters Grandstand: Michael Banovsky experts talk about personal branding. I have three questions for automotive writers in North America: Do you really know how to write for the web? And do you (or your publisher) know how to build traffic, visitor awareness, and capture the attention of advertisers? Do you, as freelancers, know how to create a portfolio of work that’s made for the Internet – and is not just a collection of re-hashed dead tree newsprint articles?

If I told you that Google (and other search engines) read every single word of your reviews to gauge relevance, would you spend some more time proofreading? What if I said a reader’s first click onto your article (or website) could be their last?

Would you tweak your headlines and introductions for precision and clarity? Would you insert links to guide your readers to relevant source material? Would you man up and do a better job?

Stories, once liberated online, can become hubs of information, instruction, and comment. They can generate not only boatloads of traffic (yay…) but earn you the respect and trust of your readers.

If you’re a freelancer, waiting for your editor to add links, subheads, and change the format of your work is like asking permission from your parents on which positions they’d suggest when you bed your significant other.

I envision a world in which automotive writers always provide the best information possible, if they wrote it or not. In which they not only give readers amazing stories but the tools necessary to make the best decisions for their needs.

Why? It’s our job.

Automakers (and writers) like to tout that vehicles are the second-largest purchase of a person’s life, after their house. And it’s a purchase many make every three to seven years. Frequency dictates that the more bad advice and bad writing your readers receive each time they read your work, the more quickly they’ll be able to tune you out. People are embracing forums, Facebook comment threads, and Twitter for a reason.

Honestly, I’d like to help. If you want me to speak at your federation or whatever, I will. I don’t have a car (or book test vehicles that often) so you’ll have to figure out a way of getting me there. I’m simply tired of the misinformation and bad advice swirling around the industry.

Special thanks to Brian, who told me not to bitch so much and actually try to help. (That’s his quote above.)

Oh, and if anyone wants to chat over email, I’m at michael [[ at ]] banovsky [[ dot ]] com.

Permalink/Comments: Grand Stand: Michael Banovsky


new roads

AWCom ran across a newly launched web site that may offer opportunity for autowriters: The Good Men Project Magazine ( It went live June 1, “confident that the world needed a new kind of men’s magazine—one that takes men seriously.” It has a Diversions section where Dave Ford wrote about Men Behind The Wheel” .

The Shunpicker Journal Radio Program is now on Saturdays from 7AM to 2PM,web radio . . .Winding Road, the first web-only auto magazine, is now iPad compatible and offers special features for that format. . . is, of course, the new website for Michael Alan Ross where he has posted his most recent Bonneville photos. . . . If automobiles are still extensions of their owner’s personality,  should be a fruitful outlet for auto writers. The new site describes itself as, “a multi-channel content network designed to empower men 25-34 to maximize their potential, achieve their dreams and live self-fulfilling lives.” And, it says,” the MadePossible editorial architecture is driven by a strong demand from the target to address the most important parts of their lives, including: money, career, lifestyle, mind and body and community.

Tom Benford, multiple award-winning automotive book author and journalist, is now the publisher and editor-in-chief of, a new free-to-readers monthly on-line e-zine. He rates it "the premier on-line magazine for all Corvette owners, enthusiasts, collectors, restorers and aficionados, launched July 1. Each monthly issue of the e-zine will have more than 40 long web pages of new editorial material and will be posted online the 1st of each month. The site is advertiser-supported and is entirely free for readers with no subscription or sign-up required. Any news material relating to Corvettes should be directed to

Comments: New Roads July 2010


pit notes

SEMA has launched a new web site: The goal of RASR is to educate drivers about the dangers of street racing and aggressive driving stunts that put them -- and others -- at risk of serious injury and death. The new site features tools that evoke engagement from site visitors. It also provides individuals with a resource to locate professionally controlled environments in which today's performance and speed enthusiasts can participate in automotive-related events throughout the United States.

David Bull Publishing is celebrating The International Media Awards selection of Mark Donohue: Technical Excellence at Speed as the best of all 2009 entries, including magazines, newspapers, internet, radio and television as well as books, by offering special deals on it as well as two other Donahue-related books: the previously published 2005 IMA award-winning biography of Donahue mentor: Walt Hansgen His Life and the History of Post-War American Road Racing, and the newly published, Donahue, His Life In Photographs contains an additional 250 color and black and white photographs culled by author Michael Argetsinger from the thousands he collected while researching the two earlier books. The new volume provides an informal look at Mark’s life, friends, teammates and fellow racers as well as the many cars he raced. With captions and text by Artgetsinger, it is a nostalgic retrospect of the Donahue years for those who were a part of them and an excellent introduction to them for those who were not. Contact:

Not as sentimental but penetrating with an underlying affection for the auto world, is a collection of 40 years of writing by the soul of AutoWeek, the late Leon Mandel. The Jaundiced Eye, published in April by 671Press in association with AutoWeek it has earned high praise and is available through at $21.95. . . . Still another look back is being assembled by Harry Pallenberg whose credits include 800 shows for PBS in Los Angeles, and documentaries: "Shotgun Freeway, Drives Through Lost L.A." and "Women In Boxes: A documentary on Magic’s Better Half." His new project is, "Where They Raced", a definitive documentary film on the history of auto racing in Los Angeles. All he needs to complete it, at this writing, is $13,000 which he is soliciting in small donations at Trailers for the film can be seen there.

Motorbooks Publishing has a list of titles out this fall and is willing to make copies available to journalists who can publish reviews. Contact Nichole Schiele Senior Marketing Manager Motorbooks, Quayside Publishing Group, . . . Belated congratulations to Anne Profitt who won three first-place awards from AAWRBA at its annual Indianapolis 500 Breakfast: one for her magazine article: Speedway Power another for an internet piece, It’s All In the Brakes, and a third for her photo of Dario Franchitti in Sonoma. . . . Last, for those who have not seen it, click here for the perfect way to roll a car, if you must.



lane changes

Alex Fedorak is no longer with KIA Motors where he was PR director. He can be reached at and 949-697-5803. . . . Automotive reporter Katie Merx has departed Bloomberg News’ Southfield, Mich. office and Mark Clotheir has joined Bloomberg there.. . . Josh Pichler is now the executive business editor for print and online at The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Kathy Jackson and Robert Sherefkin have retired from Automotive News, while David Phillips has joined the paper as deputy managing editor of autonewsonline. His email is . . . Brandy Schaffels is now the content manager for The site provides transparent new vehicle pricing based on actual local transactional data. She will be building’s editorial department to better inform consumers about new vehicles and technologies to help them in their shopping decisions and assisting in’s social media efforts. She can be reached at or by cell phone: 818-488-7501. Her replacement contact at where she was online editor is

Mark Sutter, has replaced Kevin Baumgarner who wrote a weekly car review for the Greenboro (NC) Business Journal. . . .If you want to get email to Suzy Bruisy, editor of Cardomain Network, Inc. send it to  . . . Laura Withers,, has replaced Leigh Glenn at NADA public affairs.. . . . Memphis Commercial Appeal Business Editor is Roland Klose, . . .Drag Racer editor Randy Fish has a new email, . . . Lee Godshall has replaced Roland Gruszewsk as the automotive contact at the Burlington County (NJ) Times: . . . Steve Gooch handles the auto pages for Salt Lake City’s Newspaper Agency,

Comments: Lane Changes


across the finish line
Les Richter Former NFL star, visionary general manager of Riverside Raceway and NASCAR executive.

Comments: Across the Finish Line


- 30-


Glenn F. Campbell

table of contents


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July 2010
13 MPG 10 a.m. So Cal Auto Club, Costa Mesa, Motorsports Business Panel
15 IMPA Luncheon, 3 West Club, NYC, Audi
21-22 NEMPA, Boston, MA, Ragtop Ramble
22 SAMA, Luncheon, Smith & Wollesnky's, Miami Beach, FL, Cadillac
24 Petersen Automotive Museum, L.A., Autos & Fashion Exhibit
26 WAPA, 10:30 a.m. Briefing, Newseum, Ford
27 Annual Literature Fair, Automobile Driving Museum, El Segundo, CA
August 2010
2-5 CAR Management Briefing Seminars, Traverse City, MI
9 MPG Luncheon, Proud Bird, Los Angeles, CA
12 MAMA Luncheon, Oak Brook Terraces, IL, Night Visions
19 SAMA Luncheon, Viceroy Hotel, Miami, FL, Honda
19 GAAMA Luncheon, Atlanta
September 2010
8 MAMA, Luncheon, Oakbrook Terrace, Il
14-15 MPG Track Days, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, CA
22-23 Automotive News Virtual Green Car Show
23 SAMA, Luncheon, TBD Miami, Mazda
25 Ironstone Foundation's Concours D'Elegance, Murphys, CA, more info:
 30- 10/01 IMPA Test Days, Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, PA
October 2010
5 MAMA, Manufacturers' Dinner, Hoffman Estates
6 MAMA, Fall Rally, Hoffman Estates
12 APA, Luncheon, Detroit, MI, NADA
12 MPG, Luncheon, Proud Bird
12-14 CAR's Second Annual "Plug-In" Electric Vehicle Conference, Detroit Marriott, Detroit, MI
14 APA Luncheon, Detroit Athletic Club, Detroit MI, Toyota
21-24 TAWA's Truck Rodeo, San Antonio, TX
26 APA Luncheon, Detroit Athletic Club, Detroit MI, Consumer Reports
28 SAMA Luncheon, TBD Miami, South FL Auto Dealers Assoc.
November 2010
2-5 SEMA Show, Las Vegas, NV
17 MPG, L.A.  Auto Show Keynote Breakfast
17-18 Media Days, L.A. Auto Show
18 SAMA, Luncheon, TBD, Miami, GM
20 National Automotive History Collection Authors Book Fair, Detroit
December 2010
7 MPG, Dean Bathelor Award Dinner, Petersen Museum, Los Angeles, CA
16 APA, Luncheon, Detroit Athletic Club, North American Car & truck of the Year


motoring press organizations

The 15 regional automotive press associations provide information and background not easily found elsewhere. If they are too distant for you to attend their meetings, belonging usually gives you access to transcripts or reports of these events and other benefits.


Automotive Press Association, Detroit - Joann Muller, President,


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, Portland, OR, Jeff Zurschmeide, President


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


Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, Denver -


Southern Automotive Media Association, Miami FL, Paul Borden, President,


Southeast Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC


Texas Auto Writers Association, Mike Herzing,


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


Western Automotive Journalists, San Francisco -, Ron Harrison


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


The Atlanta-based group is re-building its web site. They meet in a different greater Atlanta restaurant.

A cross-section of motorsports business interests will be represented in a planned free-wheeling discussion of the future of So.Cal Motorsport at MPG’s July 13 meeting. Nominations for the annual Dean Batchelor Award are due by Sept. 1. Entry forms and rules are available at, Early bird Registration for MPG’s Track Day closes July 16. Member registration goes up to $129 on the 17th. The event is Sept.14-15 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

The New England group’s Annual Ragtop Rumble Crustacean Crawl will begin at 2:pm July  21 It has a new route and will include noteworthy cars not just convertibles as in the past. . . Dan Roth has begun a weekly online report of member test drives and other auto-related activities.

The South Florida group has slated Cadillac, Honda, Mazda,the South Florida Dealers Association and GM for its monthy meetings in that order through November.  After two years meeting at Miami’s Rusty Pelican, the group decided to let the featured speakers select the meeting sites.TAWA
The entry form and rules for the members-only 2010 Excellence In Craft Competition is available online and completed materials are due in Linda Water Nelson’s hands no later than August 31.

Members of the D.C.-based group are invited to a 9:15 am July 14 Press conference at the Smithsonian Museum of American History for inductions into the museum of significant auto safety technologies. Also, they can register now for a July 26th special meeting with Ford executives at the Newseum.





This is a wonderful article. Randi, keep up the good work.


Not easy to carve a whole new niche in this business. Randi, who I have known for may years, did it with great success and style. And with his son and partner, Kamatni Rawlins, that slice just keeps growing and getting sweeter. My sincere congrats!

Ted Orme


As a writer for both print media and the Internet, I have found that nobody is willing to pay much of anything for good content on the Internet -- not readers and not publishers. If publishers think they can monetize their content by setting up pay walls, good luck. People will simply seek out other websites for free information and news. Why pay if you can get it for free? The sad fact is, there's not much money to be made on the Internet compared to the good old days of paper publishing -- not for publishers and certainly not for writers.

I fear traditional journalists are an endangered species, myself included. The trouble is, anybody can be a "journalist" today. Anybody can write literally anything and post it on a blog, forum or website -- and nobody knows if what they've written is true or not, accurate or not, or biased or not.

The wiki mentality has undermined the basic process of publishers paying qualified experienced people to write accurate, informative articles.

My area of expertise is automotive, and I can't believe all the inaccurate, misleading and downright dangerous information that's published as gospel on Internet automotive forums and blogs. Automotive ezines and newsletters still have some degree of journalistic objectivity and accuracy, but with no meaningful budgets to pay staff or freelance writers, I see them resorting more and more to running press releases and PR fluff as "news."

Larry Carley

Larry, Ever notice how nobody's trying to write the next "Moby Dick"? Have you noticed that the Internet Age hasn't produced so much as a single pretender to the title of Great American Novel? What about a poet to rival Whitman, Eliot, or even Dos Passos? Seen any of that around? Yet there are hundreds, nay, thousands of "automotive journalists" online.

Allow me to explain to you why that is the case. You folks set the bar so low that an illiterate high-school blogger could step over it. The "professional" automotive journalists, with a very few exceptions (Setright, Baxter, Paul Frere) wrote such laughable, nonsensical, bought-and-paid-for-by-the-industry-garbage that every kid in America thinks he can do it better. Half of them are right.

The reason nobody's trying to beat Melville at his own game is simple: he was too damn good for a public-school Twitter addict to surpass in 140 characters or less. The guy who writes the "Wheels" section for the _Springfield Plow and Examiner_, on the other hand, is a fat, slow-moving target, dulled to stupidity by a thousand drunken press events and lulled to obsolescence by the sweet, sweet nectar of automotive PR.

How many of your elite corps of automotive journalists holds a race license? How many can fix a modern car? How many can swap out a freakin' wheel bearing by themselves?

You and your ilk made it easy. Time to retire. If you don't feel like retiring, don't worry; the marketplace of ideas will take you out back and put you out of your misery.

Jack Baruth


Dear Glenn:

Hope you're well and busy. Do Mr. Stokes a favor and change "grizzly" to "grisly" in his *footnote.



Thank you for another great issue of autowriters

Camilo Alfaro

Tom-Tom (s)

Re the continuing Jack Baruth discussion:

I think that good provocative writing invites responses. We feel obligated to run them but I hope this horse has run its course and there is not much to be gained by beating it more.


I think it's amusing... clearly some features were ruffled. But why do they have to criticize my poor defenseless posterior? :)

Jack Baruth

Doug Stokes Addendum:

Mister Campbell,

Further proof (Online 2011 Honda Odyssey Reveal Video with Live Q & A) that journalists and bloggers are two different things (note the salutation).

On a personal note (are there any other ways to note?): I really find myself disliking the term "blogger" more and more ... Use of it indicates (to me at least) some sort of mindless (or half-mindless) writing that's not really good enough, or too personal, to put up in a normal channel that a reader needs to be somehow forewarned about ...

"This is a blog ...” reminds me of the old Army: This is my rifle, this is my gun ..."

doug stokes


PS: the LA Times just carried a story about the Las Vegas Review-Journal suing some blogger for using one of their (3 dollars on Sunday) stories ... they can't sell 'em at that price ... so sue somebody.


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Glenn Campbell, Publisher       Lysa McCarroll, Managing Editor

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