Blogs will turn PR people into waiters and consumers into PR departments, boosters of the personal weblog phenomenon predicted at a recent conclave. With 10 million blogs already in cyberspace and 40,000 being added every day (who counts?), the raw data in their presumably spontaneous words excites market researchers. Two free blog search services: PubSub and Technocrati have been joined by Yahoo and Google blog engines. The latter scours over 300,000 automotive blogs for significance or entertainment. That's where aggregators come in. For a fee or to create a site attractive to advertisers, they assemble blogs around a topic or other common denominator (see www.Jalopnik.com ). And that's where spontaneity goes out. Ethos becomes pathos, charisma is routinized, spontaneity is curdled by ambition. Aggregators and their editors compete for ad dollars and the "gigantic cocktail party of enthusiasts talking up their topic," as Road & Track engineering editor Dennis Simanaitis describes it, becomes another commercial medium. Web surfers under age 30 now feel blogs are as credible as conventional journalism and they will be enticed to choose blogs or blog aggregations much as they do magazines – which might be good news for freelancers who can establish their expertise or at least, their way with words.
What do you think?
How are blogs impacting your job as a journalist? are they an over-rated passing
trend? or an indicator of news to come? We've set up a special e-mail box,
you'd care to share your predictions, rants or raves.
Micheline (Micki) Maynard is Business Day's Detroit Bureau Chief for the NY Times. Maynard has covered the auto business in Detroit for UPI, USA Today, Newsday, U.S. News & World Report, and Reuters. She has written two books about it: The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market, in 2003 and Collision Course: Inside the Battle for General Motors, in 1995. Her predecessor on the Detroit auto beat, Danny Hakim, moves to the paper's Albany, NY bureau. . . . Reuter's Detroit Bureau Chief, Tom Brown moves to Miami, no successor has been named at this writing. . . .San Francisco Chronicle auto editor R. J. Garbosky (aka, "Dean Seven") has accepted the company's buy-out offer and will freelance for Bay Area lifestyle magazine SOMA, among others. Seasoned Chronicle reporter Michael Taylor will shepherd all automotive coverage at the paper. . . . .Freelancer Jim Travers is forsaking his Florida abode for one closer to the Yonkers, N.Y. editorial offices of Consumers Reports where he has been named an associate auto editor. . . . William Jeanes sends a word of thanks to all of his many colleagues who emailed, called and wrote to him and his wife, Susan, following Hurricane Katrina's assault on their home in Pass Christian Miss. "I learned that I have more friends than any one person deserves. I also want to thank MPG, and Rich Taylor's vintage rally group, for sending funds to hurricane victims who needed them. I'm sure other automotive writers and organizations did likewise, but these two I had first-hand knowledge of." They have relocated to Madison, Miss. near Jackson for now. However, this fall Jeanes is a writer in residence at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
More magazines are offering video-on-demand of their print editions. So much so that some believe print copies will soon become ads for the video versions. . . . Which raises the question of writers giving away all rights for a one-time fee when their words are then used for profit in different media all over the world? . . . In the meantime, the American Society of Magazine Editors' new guidelines stress "no pay for play" be it cash or an ad schedule in exchange for product exposure in editorial material. Nothing said about how the guidelines might be enforced. . . Primedia is exploring a tax-free spin-off that will produce two separate, publicly traded companies: one for its Consumer Guides segment and another for its Enthusiast Media and Education segment . . . The Cartoon Network is asking viewers to create animated shorts promoting Honda's 2006 Civic models. . . .Volkswagen has produced 120 new short online films for its new Passat campaign. Road & Track will shutdown "Speed" after one more issue. . . Reportedly, Ford is cutting back on a hand that feeds them by curtailing press fleet loans and deliveries. Doug Stokes is waging a war against newsprint attrition by sharing his letter to the L.A. Times sports editor in which he complains about relegating outstanding motorsports columnist Shav Glick's prose to the digital edition.
John Stewart, former Four Wheeler magazine editor and more recently Primedia VP Group Publisher, is now Editorial Director for the newly-formed APG Media Group, based in Orange, California. Automotive titles in the group include Street Trucks magazine, Import Performance magazine, and Drag Racer magazine. The launch of two additional titles, Diesel World and Dirt Truck magazine was announced last week at the SEMA Show. The APG Media Group combines titles purchased from the shuttered Visionary Group and CFW Enterprises, which includes two martial arts titles and the paintball game magazine Action Pursuit Games, the leader in its category. The APG Media Group is part of Apprise Media, and is headed by Craig Nickerson. Further growth, through acquisitions or other launches, is part of the business plan. John Stewart began as a proofreader in 1978 at Argus Publishers, and moved to Petersen Publishing in 1984, where he became editor of 4-Wheel & Offroad magazine. Moving to Four Wheeler magazine in 1986, he spent 14 years as editor and Editorial Director for General Media. He became Editorial Director for EMAP's truck group in 1998, and Group Publisher for Primedia in 2000. APG media offices are located at 265 S. Anita Drive, Suite 120, Orange, CA 92868. Stewart can be reached at 714-939-9991, extension 304, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He lives in Pasadena, California, and enjoys the occasional motorcycle ride with the Sons of Danger motorcycle group.
A new CarCrazyCentral.com web site was announced at the SEMA show. The site offers on-demand TV and radio shows for enthusiasts as well as daily auto news updates, humor downloads and a Car Crazy Cafe chat room. The company reportedly built TV and radio studios in Irvine, Calif. and is said to be hiring 20 people to disseminate automotive news and features 24 /7 on its own Car Crazy Central cable TV station. . . . Roadfly.com has released its first Roadfly TV segment and believes it is the first automotive review available for video-enabled handheld devices, such as the video iPod. Also viewable on most laptop and desktop computers, the seven-minute segment on Audis' redesigned A4 is hosted by Roadfly publisher Charlie Romero, Jr. New episodes will be produced bi-monthly. . . .The Driver TV on-demand-channel will put a new car showroom in 15 million homes via Comcast, Cox and Time Warner and plans video presentations of 100 new models yet this year.
The Society of Automotive Historians presented the
Carl Benz Award for the best magazine article of the previous year
to writer Carl Goodwin for "1000 Miles in Half a Day," an account of
John Fitch's GT class win and fifth overall in the 1955 Mille Miglia
race. It was published in the September/ October 2004 issue of
Vintage Motorsport. . . Beverly Rae Kimes is the 2005 recipient of
the IAMA Award for Lifetime Achievement. According to the
announcement, Ms. Kimes entered the world of automotive journalism
when she took her first job with Automobile Quarterly in 1963, and
"has had an affair with old cars and old men ever since. " Our list of awards for autowriters now includes (with more welcome):
Society of Automotive Historians - Awards in 14 categories.
International Automotive Media Awards - Awards made in multiple categories. Contact: Walter R Haessner at email@example.com
Ken Purdy Award - One award by the International Motor Press Association for the best automotive writing in print, film or video published or released in the the previous year. Contact: www.impa.org
Golden Quill Award - By Washington Automotive Press Association. Rules being reviewed. Contact: Cathy Nikkel-Orme at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dean Batchelor Award - Motor Press Guild for single best piece of the year. Contact: www.motorpressguild.org
International Wheels Awards Awards in multiple categories honoring excellence in journalism for those who cover the global automotive industry. Sponsored by the Detroit Press Club Foundation and managed by the Individual Communicators Network. Contact: www.icnpr.net
Our list of awards for autowriters now includes (with more welcome):
Society of Automotive Historians - Awards in 14 categories.
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