the road ahead
Audience is King
By Eric Killorin
In the golden age of computing—early 1980s to be precise—I
had the good fortune to join Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC)
as the lone market analyst and writer among a sea of network
engineers. DEC's Writing for the Reader became a constant
companion for navigating the sea of narrative uncertainty. I
wrote for techies and laymen alike during the era's
transformation from scientific machines to consumer
products. How prescient its theme is today!
Eric H. Killorin is a 30-year
technology and publishing veteran, founder of
Mobilia Magazine, and blogs about car publications
at www.carpubinsider.com. Eric judges at national
concours including Pebble Beach, and currently
serves as Chief Business Development Officer at a
new social commerce site slated for launch in Q3 of
We are bombarded with the mantra "Content is King" to the
accepting nods of publishers, journalists, and marketers.
Yet is content all it's cracked up to be? Is content now so
ubiquitous and accessible that it no longer holds regal
status? With social media unleashing millions of wannabe
writers, publishers, and photographers inhabiting
playgrounds like Facebook and Twitter, can the professional
high ground of trained journalists maintain their relevance?
With a growing print obsolescence, can publishers afford
full time staffers or even freelancers? In a nutshell, is
the golden age of editorial vanishing?
Perhaps now is time to revisit content in the context of
what it is today: A tool for consumers to express
themselves… writing for the reader! And, for automotive
writers, let's also examine ways to leverage your experience
and skills in this brave new world.
Content is So Valuable Its Free
Without the story there's little reader traction, right? In
some markets, automotive in particular, "ads are editorial"
providing as much a red-pen experience as sheer
entertainment. Direct response marketing contains its own
rules for communicating and closing the sale. So too with
engaging prose on the car industry we know and love.
Describe a Ferrari barn find, or predict what eventually
comes true (GM bankruptcy anyone?), and you had a reader for
Social media, beginning with message boards and forums in
the late nineties, to blogs, Facebook, YouTube,
Pinterest, has changed the nature and distribution of
content. Content is no longer the haven of staff-written
articles dispensed as one-way communications from publishers
to readers. Today, 50-word sound bites from anyone anywhere
are the method of choice. A gallery of mobile phone images
from Indy, or a burst of videos from
Pebble Beach get the
job done. Everyone is an unpaid observer of events, willing
and eager to click their content over to a few thousand
A July 16 post at Newsasour explores this phenomenon in the
context of what I term the publishing equivalent of a
Trek convention: Weird societies meeting by secret
handshakes hoping their world will rise once again.
Their (traditional publishers) views were shaped in the
pre-interactive era, when journalists, in their sole
discretion, decided who to cover, what to report, what to
write and when to publish it. Apart from the occasional
crayon-scribbled note that arrived in the mail, readers
seldom talked back, leaving little reason to doubt the work
was being well received. This led to the ill-advised belief
that journalists, in their sole discretion, were wise enough
to know what readers wanted, whether they really wanted it
Unfortunately, this type of one-way, prescriptive thinking
suffuses journo-futuramas. But it is seriously out of step
with the real world, where readers not only can talk back to
the media but also publish news and commentary on their own.
Politicians, entertainers, marketers and even humble hockey
moms can bypass the legacy news media by establishing
direct, one-to-one connections with their intended
This new democracy is not unlike that bygone era of
computing where monolith mainframes ceded to "distributed
computing," or peer-to-peer. More so today where every
mobile device is a node of power just as capable as the next
person's. Our world of publishing is perhaps 30 years behind
but the parallels are uncanny: The traditional
publisher/reader relationship is that of a few big machines
dispensing information to many little machines. But no more.
Readers themselves are dominating the creation and
distribution of content. Enter the era of Audience.
Audience is King
Look no further than new media models that seek to rapidly
amass large audiences and where the revenue model sits on
the back burner. With Facebook's 900 million users and
growing—and all that mined data—there's gotta be a
bazillion-dollar business there somewhere, right?
is the latest incarnation of this scary new trend where a
zero revenue status at this hot new crafts sharing site is a
badge of courage: $150+M in venture funding, 15M+ registered
members, less than two years in business, zero income. Get
big fast and forestall competitors; revenues will come
By creating new online centers of gravity, the new
membership armies are the new content providers. They pay
nothing for membership and thus become the product. And with
the web becoming an increasingly visual medium, count on
user-supplied images and videos to lead the story. Quick,
easy, and zero cost to the reader. "Free" continues to have
bragging rights as our language's most powerful word.
The automotive sector is dangerously vulnerable as we've
seen with Road & Track moving to the Detroit home of
Driver followed by the likely melding of the titles (R&T has
dropped 90K circ since 2008, C&D over 80K). Competitors
Automobile and MotorTrend are not far behind. (Frankly,
what's in their pages of any timely relevance?) On the
collector side we have the former "Bible" Hemmings Motor
News practicing an online strategy that restricts digital
delivery for the sake of print fulfillment, and a classified
ad policy delaying ad publication by as much as 30 days.
I'll do eBay, thank you.
AutoTrader ceases all print last
year to fully devote their resources online. AutoWeek is
now, ah, bi-weekly to the tune of a reader class action
lawsuit. Old Cars Weekly has reduced full time staff to one,
and Automobile Quarterly's average reader age is 70+. Street rodders are among the most savvy online information seekers
(anyone check out H.A.M.B. lately?) so what's gonna happen
to Hot Rod? Of the 280+ automotive publications' I've
tracked at Car Pub Insider since 2007, just 170 made it
through my last census in March.
But wait, you say that these vaunted pubs boast websites
chock full of advertising, feature articles, photos, blogs,
and everything a web-enabled reader craves? Therein lays the
conundrum: today's consumers have no interest in print brand
legacies, sub pitches, a decision tree of ad placement
options, and magazine pages stuffed onto an iPad. Drag
channel conflict into the consumer mix is no recipe for
capturing business. Consumers simply want to speed date
So What's a Writer to Do?
Writers can harness new media in ways never before possible.
For those fortunate enough to have a steady stream of
lucrative gigs, stick with it knowing even that gravy train
has an end. For most, hiring publishers simply don't have
the budget, or so dumbed down the payment structure that
even college interns are looking elsewhere. In both cases
plan to be your own brand where valued contacts and public
reputation will distinguish yourself. Despite today's free
flow of information, only you can tell a story your way and
stories still matter.
Yeah, we're competing with scores of unleashed amateurs with
dubious skills, but through competition the breed improves.
Here's a few points to consider:
1. You're on Your Own. Demand is shrinking for professional
writers earning lucrative fees and travel expenses.
Distinguish yourself by storyline, research techniques,
knowledge, and contacts to build a unique edge. Your
personality as a writer has as much to do with content than
the facts and figures filling the page. We are not Ken Purdy
or David E., but many of us have hidden talents for
transforming The History of the Dodge Brothers into a page
turner. Check out Mike Cannell's The Limit and see what I
2. Promote Yourself. Establish a Facebook,
and Flickr presence. It is free and easy, but time consuming
as much as half a day to keep current. Write little and
often. Join the conversation on related user postings
including car mags. Make a continuous and regular impact
with your target audience.
3. Become a Brand Merchant. If
George Forman can sell Panini
makers, you can be a spokesman for Tire Rack. By
demonstrating an ability to inform and sway, companies will
be eager to enlist your influence peddling in creative new
ways. No joke, the holy grail of product placement is
enabling everyday consumers. Be the lynchpin in this new
stealth sales model.
4. E-books. For writers, e-books are today's version of that
famous line in The Graduate: "plastics." But I'm not talking
long-winded tombs for thirty bucks a pop. Deconstruct a
typical book into chapter titles priced at 99 cents. Or take
a small slice of an automotive subject and you've got a
30-pager in a couple days effort. Have a collection of neat
photos? Publish photo essay titles similar to the Iconografix series; they'll look terrific on an iPad. Hand
it over to Amazon or choose among scores of self-publishing
firms for sale and download, then move to the next one.
5. Get Paid. Okay, so you're the hot property on every car
nut's touch screen and people seek you out for advice.
You're writing every day and even The New York Times quotes
your pithy remarks. So where's the beef? By establishing
your credentials within a specific segment, speaking and
consulting engagements are the natural next steps. For us
wordsmiths the venues are abundant. Auction companies are
always on the look out for catalog writers, "authorities"
for vetting auction vehicles, and some even pay travel and
daily fees to be onsite and help move the metal. Automotive
companies may have the R&D and production side figured out,
but how effective are they at grassroots consumer persuasion
in this new digital arena? Your boots-on-the-ground
experience is invaluable here. And the big opportunity will
take place online itself as automotive manufacturers and the
thousands of SEMA market vendors seek innovative methods for
reaching their audiences. Know 1% more than your employer
and he'll see you as an expert.
The New Face of Publishing
I began this article from the perspective that content is a
commodity and where audience development is the new gold
standard. As such, writers should leverage the power of
audience to generate new demand for their services. We must
also accept an erosion of the publishing model itself.
Newspapers and magazines served a purpose, but no longer.
The new face of publishing is that of an electronic
aggregator of like-minded consumers who converse, share, and
acquire. They will become the new salespeople for branded
category merchandise. Add the immediate propagation of
posted content simultaneously across multiple forums; one
can only embrace this for the quantum leap of progress it
is. For those longing for the way it used to be, take note:
These are the good old daze. Make them yours!
Click here to finish
"Mac" Gordon is Detroit
Correspondent and Marketing Representative for Autowriters.com.
Publisher and editor Glenn Campbell
said, "It's good to have Mac's knowledge and experience contributing in both
Detroit-born and raised, Gordon started newspaper editing in junior high and
continued through senior high, college and military service, followed by a
19-year stint at Automotive News. He then purchased a dealer-focused newsletter,
Dealership Decline Finally Ends
After a devastating loss of 3,200 GM and
since the 2010 bankruptcies, plus 1,700 Ford dealers who
lost the Mercury brand, signs of a recovery in new-car
franchises have emerged.
The National Automobile Dealers Association reports that in
the first quarter of 2012, the franchised dealer total
gained 66 as 'hot brands' like Hyundai,
Audi and Kia filled
Underscoring the reversal of fortunes in the U.S. market,
NADA's directors took the opportunity at their midsummer
meeting of naming a task force to study oppressive automaker
programs that give urban dealers larger sales incentives and
reward those who add costly facilities or undertake
The task force has several small dealers, led by NADA's
chairman, William Underriner, who has
Buick, Honda, Hyundai
and Volvo franchises in Billings, Montana.
Other members include NADA's vice-chairman, Forrest
McConnell, a Honda-Acura dealer in Montgomery, AL, and
Tonkin, NADA's 2012 chairman, and a multi-franchise dealer
in Portland, Oregon.
Underriner has called for "utmost speed" in tackling factory
programs that harm smaller dealers.
A non-dealer expert in studies such as the one at NADA,
Glenn Mercer, is leading the NADA project. Underrriner and
McConnell have set a deadline of February for manufacturer
compliance with the study's targets of equalizing demands
for facility upgrades, improving return-of-investments goals
and ending two-tier pricing and stair-step incentives.
Lexus Outdoes Detroit 3 in Quality
DETROIT-The latest quality study was not as 'closely
watched' as its predecessors-and for good reason. General Motors had high hopes of placing No. 1 or No. 2 in
the final rankings this year, but it fell short as its
Cadillac brand finished only third behind repeater No. 1
Lexus/Scion in initial quality rankings. Cadillac was a
disappointing fourth last year.
The annual quality survey by J.D. Power and Associates dealt
some serious blows to Ford and Chrysler, owing to setbacks
for the automakers My Ford Touch and
Ford Lincoln Touch
infotainment hands-free systems. Ford fell in the rankings
to 28th out of 34 brands tested, with 118 problems reported
for every 100 vehicles, as consumers continued to 'dis'
operational hardships on both entertainment and phone
systems in Ford and Lincoln models.
Once again, high marks were scored by luxury brands Jaguar
in second place and Porsche in third. No. 1
Lexus had only
73 problems for every 100 vehicles; Jaguar and
each; Honda, 83; followed by Acura,
Infiniti; Mercedes Benz,
BMW and Mazda.
Trailing again in quality scores was the Chrysler Group. The
Ram pickup finished 12th, up from 20th;
Jeep advanced to
23rd from 25th and Dodge to 29th from 31st.
But despite a multi-million dollar investment in quality
upgrades, Chrysler and Jeep fell nine spots to 25th and
Chrysler's Fiat 500 minicompact shared last place with
Daimler's Smart brand.
J.D. Power analyst Dave Sargent, noting the
problems with technology advances such as touch-screen and
GPS miscues, said the 2012 results should be an impetus
toward keeping new systems less complicated.
Maroone Sounds Off, EV Segment Grows
The EV battlefield widens, adding Honda Fit EV,
BMW Active E
to the segment, including Nissan Leaf,
Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius, and
But why include only leasing in marketing E-cars? Fit EV's
monthly lease is strictly $389 for three years in 'select'
West Coast markets; Active E-a 1-series subcompact-leases
for $489/$2,250 a month and is limited to 700 in the U.S.
out of 1,100 worldwide.
The Wall Street Journal gives both cars a ride in the early
July issue. "Electrification of these systems continues to
get better and better, writes WSJ's Pulitzer-prize winning autowriter,
Dan Neil, who opines that the "Fit's center
of gravity (presumably including the Toshiba center of
gravity) is somewhere around Australia."
Mac's blog takes issue with
Mike Maroone's op-ed piece in
Automotive News, ripping into Obama's
pro-government regulatory policies.
No. 1 publicly-owned AutoNation has a flock of liberal
vehicle owners, unhappy with the GOP snipes from Democratic
partisans. Automakers should stay neutral, avoid
Auto journalists took another "hit" (see Regional News) when
Dennis Romero, wrote in his LA Weekly blog, "putting the
hammer down in a hot German touring car is almost required
these days for automotive journalists." He goes on to slam
all auto writers, "And, so, rare is the journalist who has a
clean driving record." Occasioning the comment was the
report in three other outlets that an unidentified auto
writer had garnered a $500 ticket from the California
Highway patrol after being clocked at 136 miles per hour in
a BMW M6 convertible.
So common that at least three other blogs thought it was
Silvio Calabi forwarded a letter from a professor of energy
economics at MIT who reports that he and a professor at U.C.
Davis have co-authored a paper disputing claims as to how
much ethanol production decreases gasoline prices. It is
entitled "Ethanol Production and Gasoline
Prices: A Spurious Correlation."
They tested the validity of the statistical work underlying
the claims and using the same statistical model "show" that
ethanol production "decreases" natural gas prices and "increases" unemployment in both the U.S. and in Europe and
could be used to "show" that it causes children to "age."
The paper's authors are Christopher R. Knitel (firstname.lastname@example.org) telephone
617-324-0015) and Aaron Smith (email@example.com).
This photo of the California Road & Track staff was taken at
a "Thank You" bash organized by West Coast OEM PR guys:
Scott Brown, Chrysler, Jason Camp, Ford,
Nissan and Darryll Harrison, Volkswagen.
A group of highly motivated and high-powered women are busy
building a unique high-style luxury 2013 Ford Mustang GT to
be displayed at this year's SEMA Show. Then it will be
auctioned off on eBay for the benefit of the SEMA Memorial
Fund which is dedicated to fostering the next generation of
automotive aftermarket leaders and innovators. A satin-black
Mustang concept was the winner among three designs the
public was asked to vote for online via Source Interlink
Media's many outlets.
SIM publishes more than 75 special interest titles,
maintains 100 web sites and has a number of TV and radio
The winning concept is described in the press release
announcing the choice as, "meant to stimulate the senses by
fusing luxury and power." The women will do their
customizing work at a SIM's facility in El Segundo, Calif.
Jos Thomas who works for Hyundai in India offers on his
what reads like a paper on Auto Journalism he may have
written to earn his degree in mass communications. It is an
interesting contrast with this month's Road Ahead piece.
What do you think?
Jimmy Dinsmore is first and foremost a journalist. He says,
in my blood, it's who I am." He started writing in high school and
continued at the University of Cincinnati where he wrote his way up to
Editor-in-Chief of the school's daily newspaper, the UC Record.
Before he became the automotive writer for Cox Media Group he covered health care,
business and real estate but not autos, even as a sideline or hobby. And
he wasn't a weekend racer or do-it-yourselfer auto mechanic.
That didn't make him flinch from the assignment. He says, "I like to
think that writers write. Whatever the subject." The corollary to that
is Malcolm Gladwell's
advice, "If you want to be a writer, take up accounting. If you want to
He accepted the fact that he had to learn on the job: listening to the
advice of others but sticking with his own style and "taking advantage
of every chance I get to educate myself, through reading trades and even
textbooks, attending events and mostly just listening to other car
Now, his weekly auto reviews are carried in The Dayton Daily News,
Springfield News-Sun, Hamilton Journal-News and
Middletown Journal, all Cox newspapers in Ohio and recently, the Cox
newspaper in Austin, Texas, the Austin American-Statesman. A native of
Ohio and resident of Cincinnati, he commutes 50 miles each way to
Dayton, providing ample seat time in the cars he reviews.
His first review was the 2011 Ford Taurus and while a fan of many other
auto reviewers, he has developed his own style.
Now two years into auto journalism he says, ". . . this is my passion,
my calling for sure. That much I know."
As for the future of auto journalism, Dinsmore believes, "Those who say
that the internet makes auto journalism unnecessary are foolish. All
auto writers are content creators – creative minds if you will. That
content may be generated on paper with ink, it might be created on the
Internet on a blog, or it might be on social media, but it's still
valuable content. It's just the method of delivery changes, but not the
standards. The Internet can't affect the standards auto reviewers live
What do you think?
The success of their first car art exhibit during this year's
North American International Auto Show has its promoters,
Steve Purdy and Mark Drucker thinking bigger and better for
their next Detroit Knows Cars exhibit concurrent with the 2013
NAIAS, Jan. 14- 27. Writing for The Detroit Bureau,
Bryan Laviolette reports
Purdy and Drucker are hoping to expand the car art show by
obtaining sponsorships and cash prizes for participating
artists. He says, "...they're envisioning three $5,000 Awards
of Excellence, three honorable mentions of $500 each and a
People's Choice award for $2,000. Those interested in
exhibiting or being a sponsor can contact Purdy at (517)
881-8564 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Drucker at (307) 321-7690 or
IMPA advises it is time to make reservations at the
Haven Resort & Spa, headquarters hotel for this year's
Sept. 19-20. The toll free number is 877-969-4283. A special
room rate of $129.00 also covers all resort fees for IMPA group
members. More hotel information is available at:
www.honorshaven.com. Test days information and tickets are
available at www.impa.org.
WAPA is asking its members to complete an online survey that
will help its officers bring WAPA's digital efforts up to
speed. They are currently working on updating the WAPA logo and
will be retooling the web site to give it a more modern look as
well as better functionality. They also plan to improve the
association's use of social media.
Pebble Beach is in a class by itself with
only Amelia Island rivaling it but the folks
behind the Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance are working hard to
climb the ladder of renown. This year a "Pleasure Road Rallye"
winds around the PV Peninsula the day before the Concours opens
on Sunday, Sept. 16 with 20 competing classes at the Trump
National Golf Club. Tickets are on sale now at
www.pvconcours.org. For more information,
media can contact: Nissen Davis at
the opposite direction is the Tour of LeMons at Monterey
Weekend. Participants are invited to bring "the roachiest,
weirdest, most entertaining (street-legalish) pile you've got."
They'll gather at 10 a.m. August 18 at the Laguna Grand Park,
Seaside, Calif. for a free, fun, relaxed, 3-hour drive of the
Monterey venues. And, yes, there is a free lunch courtesy of
Hagerty Insurance. For more information contact
When he invited TAWA members to Austin, Texas, for a chance to
test drive a Lotus, a PR man may have thought he was getting
Lotus off the hook for not making its cars available previously
to the state's auto writers. He wrote it was because the British
sports car wasn't available in the past with anything other than
a manual transmission. That ignited a small brouhaha fueled by
the "reply all" option on email menus. Is there an auto writer
who admits he or she can't shift manually? Suggestions to the
contrary aren't taken kindly nor accepted as a reason for not
sending a car to TAWA press test events that make it efficient
for writers from across the spacious state to journey to a
single location where many cars can be evaluated and compared.
After a few chastising RSVP's that took the "reply all route,"
apologies, both public and private were sent and honor was
restored amongst the TAWA membership.
Bruce Hotchkiss' "Spare Parts" blog reports
"High Profile Cars
To Compete in Utah's 2012 Intermountain Concours D'Elegance
Event September 22."
He quotes concours chairman Chris Purdum, "we are working hard
year after year to give this part of the United States an
elegant yet friendly concours event to call our own. " It will
be held in The Gardens of Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, a few
miles south of Salt Lake City on U.S. Route 15. This year's
event will honor the late Carroll Shelby by showcasing several
of the historically significant cars tied to his legend.
There's only one 24 Hours of LeMons race left to enter and the cut-off
for that one, the Chicago Autobahn, Oct. 13-14 , is August 4. . . . .
Dick Berggren, longtime NASCAR pit reporter for
FOX TV, and Karl
Fredrickson, publisher of Speedway Illustrated, will gather together top
experts in late model dirt racing for a seminar on Friday Nov. 30 during
the PRI Trade Show. There's no charge for the 8 a.m. session titled "Winning Setup Strategies For Dirt Late Models" but attendees must be
registered for the PRI show that runs from Nov. 29 to Sept, 1 in
Florida's Orange County Convention Center, Orlando. For complete show
information check: www.performanceracing.com.
For another look
at the auto magazine world in addition to that in this issue's Road
Ahead and the India link referenced in the Passing Scene, try
Michael Lamm's relaxed recollections of some of the editors and publishers he
worked with and how Special Interest Autos
Hemming's Classic Cars)
came about: "Cars
I've Loved and Hated." (Photo borrowed from
David Traver Adolphus' post.)
Gavin O'Malley writes in Online Media Daily, July13,
"AOL Autos and
Toyota are expected to debut a search tool on Monday designed to help
car shoppers find the perfect ride." Dubbed "ChooseControl," the tool
tailors searches by consumer interest. For example, telling the system
that babies will be on board will yield different search results than if
shoppers hope to break the sound barrier. . . . O'Malley also reports in
an Around the Net's Top Of The News Blog that Next Issue Media's tablet
newsstand is ready for the iPad. The consortium of publishers (Conde
Nast, Hearst, News Corp and
Time, Inc. will offer unfettered access to
39 titles now and more by the end of the year. A monthly subscription is
$10 or $15.00 if you want all the tabloids and other weeklies offered on
the digital newsstand.
Road & Travel Magazine has launched its
first annual ‘All Vehicle by Category Buyers' Guides issue – Why Now is
the Best Time to Buy a New Car!' Publisher/editor-in-chief
Caldwell also advises she has moved her headquarters cross-country to
880 Apollo Street, Ste. 214 El Segundo, Calif. 90245.
Telephones: O: 310.322.8000 C: 248.561.5660 F: 248.546.6550 . . .
The Auto Channel LLC, in conjunction with
WHDT World Television Service,
has launched The AutoChannel broadcast television network (TACH-TV). It
features television and video programming produced over the years by The
Auto Channel, along with select video content produced by independent
producers and studios. The Auto Channel, founded by Bob Gordon and
Rauch 25 years ago, provides random access to more than one million
pages of information to support and amplify the broadcast network
content which was seen
in South Florida initially and is extending nationally. For more
information on the launch click here to watch
The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) has pulled its monthly "Speed
News" segment from Grassroots Motorsports Magazine to run their own full
length monthly digital news magazine:
News. It covers all of NASA's eclectic motorsports world, has live video
embedded and is designed to work well for tablet users. The digital
magazine is handled by Racer Magazine alum Greg Gill. In concert with
the digital mag, GoRacingTV.com is
producing a monthly show, also called
Speed News, to go along with the magazine. The show is hosted by
Jalopnik and Speed:Sport:Life: contributor
popular Saturday car talk radio show is now being streamed on Mobile App
radio such as I Heart and TuneIn App Radio whose subscribers worldwide
number over 35 million. That's in addition to blanketing the Midwest
with his St. Louis-based FM signal and pickup on Internet Radio,
radio and Podcast.
Maserati has launched its first official app, Maserati Passion US. The
free app is intended to allow fans to become more involved with the
brand and share their
"passion" with others and even the roar of its V8 engine (although AWCOM
not find it) by linking to Maserati Passion US. . . . Yet another new
app allows members of Women-Drivers.com to use their smart phones to
provide instant feedback on their experience at participating dealers.
Dealers strive for a Certified Women Drivers Friendly status and a
number of no-cost marketing benefits that go with it. For more
information, contact: Anne Fleming at 412-327-2604 or visit
ROAD & TRACKERS: Persons close to the scene insist that no West Coast
staffers will be moved to the title's new Ann Arbor digs. As one source
put it, "They're moving the name but not the game." Currently a Road
& Track "pensioneer" but planning his own website is long-time engineering
editor, Dennis Simanaitis. He expects to roll it out by mid-August. He
says the site will be devoted to "cars, old, new and future: science &
technology; vintage aeroplanes, flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana;
our English language; and other stuff." He also has some freelance
opportunities brewing. Dennis can be emailed at:
Mike Magda has been named editor of
EngineLabs.com, a new publication
from Power Automedia, a digital media company based in Murrieta, Calif.
and focused on the enthusiast. EngineLabs.com joins eight other online
magazines published by Power and will offer technical expertise,
research and the latest news in the performance engine market. Magda has
been an editor on four national print magazines and has authored hundreds of
auto tech briefings for instructional purposes. He will be joined at EngineLabs.com by veteran Power Automedia senior tech editor
Kimbrough . . . .
Sam Smith will join Road & Track as executive editor
on July 30, and John Krewson will become a senior editor at the magazine
on August 1. Both will be based in Ann Arbor, Mich., where the magazine
is being relocated from the West Coast. Smith replaces Patrick Hong, who
Hearst Magazines reported, "left the magazine to start a new business.".
. . . Automotive News reports Canadian George Young has been named head
of Global PR for Mazda. The publication interprets the promotion of a
non-Japanese to the post as, in part, a move to improve communications
with Mazda's customer base outside of Japan. . . .
Jil McIntosh has
moved from Autos.ca to Sympatico.ca/Autos, where she writes reviews and
features. She's still published at several other outlets, including the
Toronto Star, and her personal website remains the same:
www.WomanOnWheels.ca as does her email address:
across the finish line
Scott Bailey - Founded Automobile Quarterly in 1962. The publication
survived without advertising and it and he became well-respected sources
for accurate automotive history and information.
Glenn F. Campbell
MAMA: Luncheon: CATA Headquarters,
Oakbrook Terrace, IL: Buick
CAR Management Briefing Seminars:
Traverse City, MI
APA: Luncheon: Detroit Athletic
Club: Detroit, MI: Kia
Concours d'Elegance: Road Rallye: Palos Verdes, CA
Concours d'Elegance: Palos Verdes, CA
Automotive News Marketing Seminar,
IMPA:Test Days, Monticello Motor
Paris Motor Show Press Days, Paris,
Moscow Int'l Auto Show, Moscow,
29 - Oct. 14
Paris Motor Show Public Days, Paris,
MAMA: Fall Rally Manufacturers
Dinner, Hoffman Estates, IL
MAMA: Fall Rally Driving Event,
Hoffman Estates, IL
MPG: Track Day, Fontana, CA
TAWA: Truck Rodeo, San Antonio, TX
APA/NADA: Luncheon, MGM Grand,
APA/Consumer Reports: Luncheon,
motoring press organizations
The 17 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.
American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association, Inc.
Norma "Dusty" Brandel
President, Exec. Director
Automotive Press Association
Joann Muller, President
American Racing Press Association
Stan Clinton, President
Mike Spinelli, President
Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association
Davis Adams, President
Tom Appel, President
Motor Press Guild
Los Angeles, CA
Laura Burstein, President
New England Motor
Keith Griffin, President
Nik Miles, President
Phoenix Automotive Press
Cathy Droz, President
Rocky Mountain Automotive Press
Nathan Adlen, President
Southern Automotive Media
Jaimie Flores, President
Southeast Automotive Media Organization
Texas Auto Writers Association
Truck Writers of
Tom Kelley, Executive Director
Western Automotive Journalists
San Francisco, CA
Washington Automotive Press Association
Jessica Anderson, President www.washautopress.org
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CONFESSIONS OF A MAGAZINE JUNKIE
Glenn, your newsletter is getting depressing, but it's not your
fault. Richard Truesdell's comments are hardly new and don't
even contain a nugget of hope for the automotive press. I write
this note as membership chairman of IMPA, where I see
applications from more and more non-salaried (i.e. freelance)
web journalists, with only a handful that seems to have a really
solid editorial income stream. The PR applicants and an
occasional staffer are obvious exceptions, of course.
The blame belongs both to the media and the PR people. With an
occasional exception, the latter seem all too willing to share
materials they once limited to journalists with any blogger who
asks or logs on, which dilutes the ability of journalists to
provide exclusive information. I spent one drive program with a
blogger who wrote his blog for the pure joy, he admitted his
viewers were probably a scant bunch, but he still got the same
invitation I did and same access to the information. He had a
"day job" to pay the bills.
At one time I couldn't believe that experienced journalists
would work for wages that wouldn't come close to "paying the
rent," and was sure that the leading websites would have to
raise their rates. But that doesn't seem to be close to true, as
I hear from journalists who trick their copy to juice the number
of clicks, thereby increasing their revenue, although still to
meager amounts. And then of course, we have the increasing
number of non-professionals willing to work for what I'd call
the non-economic "benefits."
When I am told that "$500 to $600" is first-rate pay (claimed an
article in a link in one of your previous issues), I have to ask
how a guy is supporting himself (much less a family) if he gets
an assignment (even two) every week from that market or an
equivalent. Maybe automotive journalism has become a field for
people with "day jobs," recipients of retirement checks from
previous jobs and those who are from two-income couples. As the
number of paid staffers on the magazines or websites continues
to decline to a relative handful (and few of them with more than
a low/middle-range paycheck), I have to wonder about the future
of our field of endeavor.
I can't claim I have any answers. This is not a personal gripe.
I sometimes think I'm working and getting paid in another world.
# # #
Thanks so much for Richard Truesdell's comments on the shrinking
market for automotive writers. I wasn't able to open the
expanded article to read beyond the opening paragraphs and
references, but the comments struck home.
Expanding on Richard's comment on the impact of publications
moving to the Internet: The refusal of many advertisers to
follow them, and the subsequent decline of ad revenues means a
severe drop-off of cash to pay contributors, both for text and
photography. I crossed paths with a very well-known racing
photographer at Daytona a year ago; he told me that some of his
former clients not only were cutting his fees to a fraction of
what they had paid previously, but were demanding that he grant
full use of his images without further compensation. End of
conversation; he walked away. The shrinkage in the auto
publication marketplace also means that there are more
journalists and photographers competing for fewer pages and
inches. Not a happy situation for any of us.
Peter C. Linsky
# # #
Thanks for this, great edition. As a car guy who thankfully does
not earn his living from writing, I, too am VERY concerned about
what is happening to journalism in general and the automotive
writing profession in particular. (I am trained as a journalist
and went to Illinois and Mizzou in print news/editorial.)
Richard Truesdell's provocative article has already stimulated
some very insightful commentary from your readers.
Bravo and thank you for providing this valuable newsletter.
# # #
The Autowriters group on Facebook, officially inspired by your
Autowriters, has passed 500 members and has active discussions
about the trade. Unlike other groups, Autowriters general only
admits people with a portfolio. Exceptions to that rule are a
few promising students; editors and publishers; and selected
people who might want to hire an autowriter. No spam or
promotions are tolerated—we try to keep it serious.
LinkedIn members should be able to find us at
"David B. Traver Adolphus"
# # #
Greetings and warmest wishes to you along with gratefulness to
find a new
issue of your e-newsletter in the "in" box over here. . . . .
I'm confident that there are many, many others in your network
who are as
pleased to see you back as me - you've developed a one-of-a-kind
contribution to the automotive world. Also, on a brief note
closing, the prompt and professional handling of this correction
Of course, even as publication corrections are authentic -- the
your news and updates reflect such immediate readership is 'PR'
be bought; only earned. Again, great to see you in here, Glenn,
you continue to sense the respect we all have for you "out here"
in the field.
Thank you and best of continued good health,
# # #
"but it will help us give Road & Track the support and focus it
needs to reach its full potential." Ha, ha, ha. Road & Track
reached its full potential a long time ago. And then they were
bought out by Hachette Filipacchi Media, and after that Hearst."
# # #
In response to John Matthius' comments:
John: just saw your note regarding Kim in the autowriters'
newsletter and felt compelled to drop you a line….earlier this
week we actually held a memorial/tribute for Kim at the
Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, CA – and nearly 100
people came to share in his life.
Kim and I worked together for a dozen years when he was the PR
director for Mitsubishi Motors and I was his counterpart at the
agency that represented Mitsu (before his time at Kia), and I
remained personal friends with Kim for the balance of his life…
following Kia, he went on to work with MG based out of London
and then as director of Communications for AIAM, which is now
the Association of Global Automakers. Though he unfortunately
faced bouts of depression and anxiety, Kim did not have a "terminal" condition – he spent the last year with family to
ease his depression and unfortunately had a heart attack in the
Your thoughts for him are most appreciated, but I did want you
to know that many friends both globally and domestically, and in
and out of the automotive community, took the time and heart to
also remember him well – we were lucky to have someone like Kim,
because if you read deeper in the tributes on line and that his
family received, he deeply touched the lives of many – I
personally could probably count on less than one hand the folks
in my lifetime that I've brushed paths with, yet have made such
an indelible mark.
Yes, good guys like Kim do deserve to be remembered. I
appreciate your writing your note in regard to Kim, yet was
honestly put off by two separate newsletters that eluded to a
condition that Kim never faced, and I'm not sure how to rectify
that…. I just know that somewhere, he's looking down quite
pleased at those that do remember him well.
Partnership/Lifestyle Marketing & PR
E BOOK QUERY
ANY (MONETARILY) SUCCESSFUL AUTOMOTIVE E-BOOKS OUT THERE?
Wallace Wyss, a website author and auto history book author out
in Ontario, CA asks our readers if any of them can recommend,
through personal experience, publishing their books as e-books,
through Amazon or other distributors. "I have one book in print
now that the publisher said they wanted to do as an E-book but I
pointed out e-book authors are generally paid more than 10%
because the publisher no longer has to spend money on printing,
paper, binding and distribution. The conversation didn't
continue much further." So what Wyss wants to know is: Are there
any auto writers who have gone to e-books and are raking in the
dough? Is it a path worth pursuing? Wyss points out that he is
slow to this new high tech world having taken delivery of his
first digital camera only last week!
# # #
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