Monetizing internet content and other means of digital exposure took a paradigmatic step with
Time, Inc. announcing that it will guarantee advertisers a number of readers (independent of how they read the magazine
- in print, on the Internet, or other electronic method of distribution) and not based on how many print copies are sold.
Wooden Horse News, in reporting this development predicts other magazines will surely follow and cautions its freelance writer audience, “The standard ‘First North American serial rights’ will quickly morph into a ubiquitous ‘All rights’ in contracts with writers.”
Monetizing digital content is the drive behind the enthusiast pubs rush to the internet. As noted below in Passing Scene, 80% of Car and Driver's online audience does not subscribe to the print edition. Yet, they admit their re-design of the magazine is intended, in part, to drive more of their readers to the web. Part of the reasoning behind this was explained in writer Steve Smith’s Media Post interview (last August) with Robert Ames, vice president – online marketing Hachette Filipacchi Media, parent company of Car and Driver and Road & Track. The ability to track visitors to their sites allows them to identify those who are perceived as being close to a buying decision and the type of vehicle that interests them. This, in turn, enables them to offer advertisers the opportunity to deliver a model-specific
message closer to the time a prospect makes the actual purchase decision. Behavioral target marketing. A better chance for consumers to get what they want instead of learning to want what they get.
John Matras sent along a link to a Centerpiece Article on www.Poynteronline.org posted by Joe Grimm of the Detroit Free Press. The Grimm details: micro-second transmission on the internet is making it
possible for newspapers to send jobs offshore. The Columbus Dispatch sent graphic design to India and cut 90 jobs; Chicago Tribune and L.A. Times both sent jobs in circulation contact to India and other off-shore firms are making inroads in proofreading and copy editing. Matras sighs, “As if competing for freelance assignments wasn’t hard enough.”
Another look at the road ahead was provided in Jon Rosner’s excellent report on ex American Motors, Chrysler VP of engineering Francois Castaing’s October dinner talk before the Western Automotive Journalists, WAJ. As Rosner reported, Castaing’s forward view is more of the same. Yes, world oil resources are finite and are rapidly being depleted. Hydrogen fuel cells, however, are not the answer. Too expensive to install in cars while the manufacture of hydrogen creates excessive pollution and requires oil. Electric cars are not a good alternative. The battery is an inefficient way to store energy and is also very heavy. We need more power plants, themselves a source of pollution, to power growth of the electric car population. Piston engines, on the other hand, offer everything that the alternatives do not: they are compact, cheap and easy to manufacture. Electronic controls have made them sophisticated, efficient and almost pollution free. Light hybrid diesels would slow oil consumption. Grain based fuels rely on farm land and so do increasing numbers of people. Engineers do not need government regulation to motivate them to produce more efficient engines – that’s what they do. Castaing noted that, ironically, building more efficient engines just increased the amount of miles people drive. He favors a higher oil tax. This has reduced oil consumption in Europe. Sounds like there was a lot to chew on.
Trouble in Texas. Questions about the lack of transparency in the affairs of the Texas Auto Writers Association, particularly its finances, have been around for years in PR circles and more recently from TAWA members. One member beseeched autowriters.com recently to make the concerns known in order that something is done to preserve TAWA’s reputation and that of the many fine people who are members. True or not, the rumors tarnish the credibility of TAWA’s very successful Texas Truck of The Year and other programs. . . . On a happier note, The Motor Press Guild's second annual Media Survey revealed it is having a positive effect on automotive communication, according to John Rettie who initiated the MPG survey a year ago. He said, “Since the majority of manufacturers improved their scores, (as compared to a year ago) this initiative is having the desired result and we believe the survey will continue to provide guidance to the automakers in refining their communications programs.” This year’s survey was opened to journalists receiving the autowriters.com newsletter, tripling the number reached as compared to a year ago. Results of the 113 question survey measuring satisfaction on seven criteria are available to all automobile manufacturers by contacting Rettie (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Chuck Koch (email@example.com). . . . Car and Driver has dropped the distinctive white border of its cover and made other design changes to the print edition that provide space “to be more graphically interesting,” according to editor Csaba Csere as quoted in Advertising Age. The article went on to say that the big change is in Car and Driver’s digital edition. Some magazine features moving online and other innovations are part of an effort to double the site’s page viewers, 80 percent of whom currently do not subscribe to the print edition. Car and Driver, Road & Track and Motor Trend print editions are down in newsstand sales or ad pages, or both. . . . Wooden Horse News reports that Speedway Club Luxury Living is targeted at women NASCAR racing fans. Colleen Brannan is editor-in-chief of this bi-monthly from SLC Publications. The premier issue was mailed to Speedway Club members and to homes and businesses in the Mecklenburg/Cabarrus County regions of North Carolina. Distribution will continue at race venues and be available by subscription in February.
Fred Gregory is recovering from recent surgery and “back on station writing the 2007 Car and Driver Light-truck Guide, although not yet ready for off-roading or high-G test driving.” He wants to thank all his many friends in autodom for their cards and calls wishing him the best. They meant a lot to him, helping to “keep my spirits up until the drugs kicked in.” . . . . Larry Edsall reports his www.izoom.com/blog.aspx an auto enthusiasts (and motorsports and classic cars) website, has added some new categories to its coverage, including "Road Trips" (self-explanatory) and "Book Reviews" (almost self-explanatory, except that he has also done one movie review as well), and he just launched Larry's Blog, an almost daily perspective on things automotive -- and, from time to time, perhaps on some things not automotive. . . . John Gilbert, auto scribe of Paul Bunyan country has combined a lot of his work on one site www.newcarpicks.com. At that site, he says, “archived road tests for several years include reports from introductory sites and also driving impressions that include all-season operation in Minnesota, including its Great White North winters. Exclusive photos as well as fresh perspectives on all manner of vehicles can be accessed. Visitors to the site can also find occasional sports features, listed separately, and heavy on hockey features, because, well, heck...Minnesota IS the U.S. version of Great White North, eh?” . . . Katrina rebound. Bruce Smith writes from Long Beach, MS “Truck Test Digest, the automotive radio talk show focused on pickups and SUVs, hosted by Keith Burton and me, has been syndicated by Radio America. The show is now broadcast by more than 80 stations every Sunday afternoon. Our companion web site is www.trucktestdigest.com. We began the show locally last year here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. But then Katrina paid a visit. When the radio station was put back in order--as well as our homes and lives--we hit the air again. Only this time we have a slightly larger listening audience than before. And, yes, I'm still writing vehicle reviews and related feature articles for a host of magazines.” . . . Ironically, now that The Truth About Cars found deeper pockets and substantially increased its pay to sustain a flow of rants, some of the site’s freelance crew have jumped ship. Editor Robert Farago acknowledged he is in need of columns. Payment hassles or greener pastures may have been the cause. Or it may be Farago (he of the "Flying V" remorse) has offended others with his Ten Worst Autos Today (TWAT) survey. His criteria for the survey includes: aesthetic affront; lack of quality in design and workmanship; technological insufficiency; and, despicable parentage. Hardly an ennobling pursuit. . . . Delighted to report that our Mac’s problem with Winding Road is not shared and we were able to subscribe to this stand-alone web magazine by using our PC. . . . Automotive Rhythms (AR) will bring its industry knowledge and unique persona to the small screen when ARtv premieres on Comcast Cable’s OnDemand through a strategic alliance with Vibe and VOD (Vibe OnDemand). . . . Bi-coastal freelancer Tamara Warren invites comments on her web site www.tamarawarren.com and her blog linked to the site. Send them to her, not this Newsletter. . . . John Dinkel advises that he has a blog on www.WheelsTV.net. . . . . . . Editor's note: with 7,000 new blogs every day, we can't promise to plug all the automotive ones.
Brenda Priddy’s career as a spy shooter began when she noticed two camouflaged cars in the parking lot of an Arizona grocery store. A photographer running a small studio out of her home, her investigative instincts were intrigued by the shrouded vehicles. She set up her ever-present cameras and snapped away. This was in 1992 and the cars turned out to be 1994 Mustangs being tested in Arizona’s hot sun. Her photos made the cover of Automobile magazine and a career was born. In the ensuing years her work’s been seen in just about all of the major enthusiast magazines, USA Today, NY Times, top business magazines and a number of other news and vertical publications. Her Brenda Priddy & Co., now furnishes photos from around the world and, thanks to the Internet, often minutes after they are shot. That can be a mixed blessings, she notes, as a client not first on her list may see a shot on the Web while their version is being sent to them. A minor price of success compared to what Priddy feels are the real costs of making a living as a spy lens hound. She says it takes most of the skills she acquired by earning a college degree in criminal justice: surveillance, investigation, anticipation, deductive reasoning (follow the clues) and most importantly, lots of patience and persistence. Mix those qualities with luck and a photographer’s eye, she says, and you are lucky to sell about one out of every 10 sets of photos sent out. She sometimes works with her husband of 25 years, John, a writer photographer. She would like to use this time in the Autowriters Spotlight to thank her many friends in the auto world who helped “bail her out of jail.” They contributed 50% more than the $1,000 posted by The March of Dimes to free her.
Motor Trend recently hired Michael Floyd as its new Online Editor. He used to be the online editor at AutoWeek but decided to make the move from Detroit to Los Angeles to revamp and reinvigorate the MotorTrend.com, TruckTrend.com, and MotorTrendClassic.com sites. His boss says that in the short time he’s been there, he's already done some amazing things. . . . Geno Effler left Aston Martin to head PR at Volvo. He’s replacing Roger Ormisher, who went back to Europe. . . . Bob McCurry, well-known and highly regarded former executive vice president of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. and, previously, group vice president of Chrysler Corporation, died in his sleep Monday, Nov. 13 after battling cancer. Known in the industry as “Captain Crunch,” McCurry excelled in building dealer relations. He retired from Chrysler in 1978 and joined Toyota 18 months later, quickly rising to then TMS President Yukiyaso Togo’s “right hand man” in the ‘80s. Bob will be missed by many.
THE "BYE" SEASON
Just in time for the gift-giving season, some new books by autowriters are out and others, their authors remind us, are still “in” - Autowriters.com searched The Essential Hybrid Car Handbook for the typical page extolling author Nick Yost’s credentials. It wasn’t there. On reflection we concluded that omitting the hype was deliberate and appropriate because the book’s focus is on facts laid out cleanly, logically and lucidly without bias by a practiced journalist. Yost is certainly that, with more than 1,000 published auto reviews, most of them while at Reading (PA) dailies. He sought out experts for answers to just about any question a person might ask about hybrid cars and reports what he found out, pro and con. Of course Yost thinks there is a good case for buyers to consider a hybrid but he leaves the plea to David Friedman, Research Director, Clean Vehicles, with the Union of Concerned Scientists. He makes it an impassioned forward to the book. For auto journalists the book is a handy, reliable reference to the past, present and likely future of hybrid cars. For consumers it truly is as it labels itself “A Buyer’s Guide.” Available at The Lyons Press (www.lyonspress.com) and no doubt at a fine book store near you. It has 48 pages and a cover price of $14.95. Yost, now a freelancer, appears in The Washington Times and, among others, Family Car. . . . Sam Moses has switched from race cars to a naval convoy in his new book At All Costs, just out. An earlier book, Fast Guys, Rich Guys and Idiots, recounted his race driving and motorsports coverage as an SI reporter. This one is based on interviews with survivors of a critical World War II convoy to secure the island of Malta and from there supply the fuel needed by Allied forces to stop the Germans drive across North Africa to the oil fields of Iraq and Iran. At All Costs (a phrase used by Winston Churchill to describe the importance of the Malta mission) has been highly praised and can be purchased from Senor Madre, Inc., POB 5, Hood River, Oregon, 97031, for $25.95 plus $6.05 shipping and handling (that includes 50 cents for Sam’s kids to address the envelopes), for a total of $32. They’ll send the book by priority mail, the day after the order arrives. . . . AutoWeek’s managing editor Roger Hart’s 103 black and white photos in Postcards From Detroit capture the early Formula 1 days there when drivers known around the world and the glamorous international jet set that accompanied them put Detroit and the proud new symbol of its post-riot rebirth, The Renaissance Center, on the world stage. There’s a lengthy intro by Hart, a newspaper editor and photojournalist stringer for AP before joining AutoWeek. Postcards From Detroit, $24.95, is available from David Bull Publishing (www.bullpublishing.com) or by calling 800.831.1758. . . . Mike Lamm, writes without any accompanying hype, “author/racer/engineer Gary Witzenburg has written a book for us about the development and virtues of the Pontiac Solstice. My company, Lamm-Morada Inc., is the publisher. We'd welcome reviews and will be happy to send a copy to any auto journalist who requests it. Our website is: www.LammMorada.com.” The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and the phone is: 209-931-1056. . . . The recently reviewed Branding Iron, the Charlie Hughes, William Jeanes persuasive polemic taking on conventional auto branding is available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. . . . And, last, Stephan Wilkinson reminds us, “Gold-Plated Porsche has been out for a couple of years, well-reviewed by C/D and AutoWeek, etc. You can read a fair amount about it on the Amazon site--people seem to love it. . . . It's partially a memoir, partially a self-deprecating account of my building my modified 911 track car.” And he adds, "Man and Machine is simply a collection of pieces about airplanes, automobiles, locomotives, Karts, pistols and other machinery, that had previously been published in Popular Science, Air & Space, Pilot, Town & Country, etc. It's been out for a little less than a year.”
AWARDS + HONORS
Lauren Fix, The Car Coach, has won a 2006 Automotive Communication Award for Best
Business-To-Consumer Efforts. Her ongoing work in educating consumers about
"Flood Damaged Cars" and "Avoiding Repair
and her constant support of
the automotive industry earned her the award from Car Care Council’s Women’s
Lauren is the host of Talk 2 DIY Automotive, running in its 4th season on the Scripps Do-It-Yourself Network. She has two books published and is working on her third book "Lauren Fix's Essential Girls Guide To Car Smarts" and is shooting a new TV show. Lauren is the spokesperson for the "Be Car Care Aware" and on the advisory panel of AskPatty.com, car site for women. . . . Pamela E. Rodgers, owner of Rodgers Chevrolet, Woodhaven, Mich., was presented a Professional Achievement Award 2006 by the Women's Automotive Association. Established in 1997, the Professional Achievement Award is presented annually to a professional woman in the automotive industry in recognition of their commitment, professionalism, and success in the automotive industry. . . . On Wheels Inc., the parent company for African Americans On Wheels, Latinos On Wheels and Asians On Wheels magazines, has been announced as the recipient of the Bronze Eddie Award at the 2006 annual Eddie and Ozzie Awards sponsored by Folio Magazine. On Wheels’ presentation of its own awards should provide plenty of laughs with comedian Alex Reymundo set to co-host its 11th annual Urban Wheels Awards January 9 with Vivica A. Fox and comics Tommy Davidson and Brian Tee (Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift, co-star) joining John Salley and Gina Hiarzumi as presenters at the Motor City event. . . . Entries in WAPA’s Golden Quill competition must be postmarked no later than Nov. 15 to be considered. Entry rules and mailing address are on WAPA’s web site: www.washautopress.org. . . . Vintage Motorsport magazine was honored as Best Magazine and for Best Article of the Year by the Society of Automotive Historians at the group’s annual meeting. Vintage Motorsport contributor Willem Oosthoek earned the Society’s Carl Benz Award, given annually to honor what the SAH deems the best periodical article (or series) in the field of automotive history. The article, “Lucky Goes To Camp,” detailed the colorful exploits of Lloyd “Lucky” Casner’s Camoradi racing team, the first to successfully obtain corporate racing sponsorship.
MPG’s Track Days at Willow Springs are Nov. 15-16.
. . . A
record-breaking 21 world debuts and 12-plus North American
introductions are set to occur during the Los Angles Auto Show
press days, Nov. 29 and 30. . . IMPA November luncheon updates
prospects for an auto racing facility on Staten Island and a
NASCAR event in NYC . . . WAPA hears from the executive vice
president of Audi . . . NEMPA had press day at Boston Auto Show,
from Mazda’s North American Design Director at its
monthly luncheon and will hold its
annual Holiday Party at the Boston Globe, Dec. 12.
15 WAPA Luncheon, DC, Audi
21 APA Luncheon, GM
29 MAMA Luncheon with video feed from L.A. Auto Show, Oak Terrace
TRACK DAYS & RALLIES
15-16 MPG TRACK DAYS, Willow Springs
17 SEAMO Rideand Drive, Roswell, GA
20 VW Ride’n Drive and NEMPA dinner meeting Brookline, MA
29 MPG L.A. Autoshow Breakfast w/Keynote Address
5 MPG Dean Batchelor Awards Dinner & Holiday Party, LA, CA
MOTORING PRESS ORGANIZATIONS
The 13 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.
APA Automotive Press Association, Detroit - John Lippert, email@example.com
IMPA International Motor Press Association, NYC - firstname.lastname@example.org www.impa.org
MAMA Midwest Automotive Media Association, Chicago - www.mamaonline.org
MPG Motor Press Guild, Los Angeles - www.motorpressguild.org
NEMPA New England Motor Press Association, Boston - www.nempa.org
NWAPA Northwest Automotive Press Association, Port Orchard, WA- www.nwapa.org
PAPA Phoenix Automotive Press Association, Phoenix- email@example.com
RMAP Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, Denver - firstname.lastname@example.org
SEAMO Southeast Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC www.southeastautomedia.org
TAWA Texas Auto Writers Association, Red Oak TX - http://www.TexasAutoWriters.org, Albert Flores, email@example.com
TWNA Truck Writers of North America, www.twna.org Tom Kelley, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
WAJ Western Automotive Journalists, San Francisco - www.waj.org, Michael Coates, president, email@example.com
WAPA Washington Automotive Press Association, D.C. - www.washautopress.org
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Glenn F. Campbell