the road ahead
Google and Microsoft are “content kleptomaniacs” according
to News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, as quoted in a
report by Media Digest of an interview he gave
Sky News in
Australia. He also was quoted as saying he would ban search
engines from his newspaper websites when he erected pay
walls for them. The walls being necessary in his opinion,
because there are “not enough advertising dollars to go
around and make all web sites profitable.” . . .
Google president Eric Schmidt sees future media as super fast,
intuitive, largely crowd and social media sourced and
advertising based, as reported by Jessica E. Vascellaro
in, ironically, the Wall Street Journal Network.
Photo By: Joakim Buchwald
For automotive writers it would seem that advertising-based
content would be better as long as car dealers and
manufacturers pay to promote their products, locally and
nationally. The premise being that auto editorial is needed
to attract readers to the ads and sustain consumer interest
in the products. . .
However, Hewlett-Packard lab scientist
Bernardo Huberman as
quoted in Online Media Daily believes, “The value of
information is giving way to individual expression as more
people post on Twitter, Facebook and other social media
sites.” He notes, “Our ability to pay attention to things is
limited," so it will become more important to look at
‘propagation of signals’ at social media sites to determine
effective marketing strategy.” Which could mean, as AWcom
interprets it, every reader an editor, selecting his or her
own media input from a vastly expanded range of options.
This is only going to get wider and denser with new apps
like www.Ulitzer.com offering “a 'new media; social journalism
platform which revolutionizes how we create, deliver, and
consume content on the Web. Ulitzer authors can get started
with their first article in a few minutes and may start a
new "topic" on any subject or write a story and post it both
to their Ulitzer author page and to any existing Ulitzer
topic. The network effect of people using Ulitzer to
communicate and collaboratively produce and categorize
content is disruptive, bypassing traditional media and
middlemen. Topics published on Ulitzer range from Greek
Isles in the Summer to New Media via Personal Branding and
Marketing & Sales.”
Kurt Cagle, managing editor of XML Today reminds
us in Technology News, “The danger here is in failing to
recognize that user-generated content does not necessarily
just represent true facts, but also contains opinions,
distortions, analyses and biased content.” Which brings into
question the current popularity of
crowd-sourced car reviews
being promoted by Ford, Honda, Toyota and others. By becoming our own editors we will have
nobody except ourselves to blame for what we get in the way
of news and information.
Comments? Please go to:
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.
Tom Kelley is a freelance auto journalist specializing in
trucks. He is founder of the Southeast Automotive Media
Organization and Executive Director of the Truck Writers of
North America. Reach him at:
A View From The Edge
In recent installments here at
AWcom, we’ve spent a bit of time looking at what’s
next in the craft of automotive journalism. Initially, we
the physical structure of the information chain, in
which the information consumer is rapidly taking over many
of the roles of old-media’s top-level managers.
More recently, we tried to make the
case that in a rapidly downsizing market for automotive
the answer is specialization (also see footnote #2
below), not to the exclusion of all else automotive, but
rather, to expand on one’s foundation of general automotive
knowledge by choosing a specific sub-topic area and really
drilling down to the point of becoming “the” recognized
expert in that niche.
This next installment was to have been
the opening salvo of what would likely be a vigorous debate
on which physical elements separate the online practice of
journalism from the automotive website of a fan/enthusiast.
However, before I could get to that
column, I had the occasion to attend the recent
Blog World & New Media Expo in Las Vegas. This year, the
two formerly separate shows joined forces to create a single
event with impressive attendance growth, especially
considering the current state of the economy. This marks my
third year of participation, and each year I’ve expanded my
knowledge and networks, so this year’s show is clearly an
instance of “what happened in Vegas,” shouldn’t be confined
to “staying in Vegas.”
Given the number of autowriters from
the print realm that have recently re-entered the job search
market, and given the foregone conclusion that “new” media
is the future of journalism, I found it odd during the first
day of the proceedings that I didn’t run into anybody from
the autowriting community. Little did I know that it wasn’t
just the autowriters from the old media who were
conspicuously absent from the event.
On the show’s second day, the opening
keynote included a panel discussing “The Death and Rebirth
of Journalism.” Moderated by
Brian Solis, founder of Silicon Valley PR firm
FutureWorks, the panel included
Joanna Drake Earl, COO of Current TV;
Don Lemon from CNN; NYU Journalism Prof.
Jay Rosen; and well-known blogger
While the entire discussion was quite
interesting, and is likely to be fodder for a separate
installment in this series, I’m compelled to emphasize an
observation that came up midway through the session. A call
went out to the room for a show of hands from those who had
ever worked as a paid journalist. In a room full of roughly
500 attendees, my hand was among only six or seven that went
up in response to the inquiry.
In our own segment of the journalism
world, we may be looking at a few hundred people currently
looking for work, but if we expand that view to include
journalist of all stripes, the number currently in the job
market is almost certainly in the thousands.
Again, at this point, the shift to new
media is a foregone conclusion, so in a world where
thousands of journalists, and as a subset, hundreds of
autowriters are looking to write the next chapter in their
careers, why weren’t hundreds of old-media journalists, or
at least dozens of autowriters attending this event learning
how and where to write that next chapter?
CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING ON BLOG
John Davis used to wear a red sport coat to press gatherings. A
carryover, he says, from the days when television was highlighting its color
capability. Or, it could have been a shrewd way of being remembered by PR guys
when he called about a car to review for his little known public TV show,
MotorWeek. That was 29 years ago and it was the first weekly TV car review
in the United States.
As he saw it, “Pubic television was at the bottom of the food chain when it
came to distributing ad dollars and, in those days, press cars.” Now they review
about 175 cars a year but still have to hustle for dollars, “Each year we raise
enough money for a season, but there is no guarantee that we will be back the
next year.” To make that happen Davis now goes to fewer press events and spends
more of his time on the road raising money. “We bring in enough money to pay for
ourselves and once-in awhile add something to the station’s budget.” Of late,
the show has benefited greatly from being carried on Speed TV and online
by www.Cars.com, as well as its own
Davis created the show as a companion to the buff magazines that were the
prime consumers sources of automotive information at the time. “We weren’t
competing with them. We were providing an educated impression of the cars
viewers saw on the covers of those magazines. That’s what we still do.” Only
they have to target a broader audience. To do so it is designed in components
that can be dropped in and most important, they keep it easily understood. “If a
viewer says, ‘what was that,’ he can’t go back and read it again. Its on its
Davis could well lay away his audience with technical jargon – a gear-head as
a kid, he graduated North Carolina State as an aerospace engineer - or
pontificate on the auto industry and its problems. He also has a business degree
from North Carolina University and worked as a research analyst on Wall Street
before becoming executive producer of the venerable Wall Street Week TV
show. But, he prefers a self-effacing style that tells viewers more of what they
want to know than how much he knows. He was able to create the work he really
likes because he volunteered at NC State’s campus radio station, rose to
director there and then continued to work in commercial radio and TV to pay his
way through NCU.
A number of persons who got the their start with Davis at MotorWeek have
moved on in the communications business, among them, Craig Singhaus, now
in network broadcasting and Lisa Barrow with Chrysler. While year
30 is his first concern, Davis looks beyond and to the new media. He worries
that the rush to be first on the Internet may make superficiality the norm and
the trust engendered by good magazines and in-depth product reviews may be
sacrificed. On the other hand, he acknowledges that once his show was “the new
media” and it took a while for it to establish its place in the automotive
The Emmy® Award-winning show has brought Davis numerous honors and he, in
turn, has lent his talent and energies to auto journalism, driving safety and
clean air initiatives. But it is not all work. Over those years he has owned and
enjoyed a variety of high performance cars, including a vintage Ford Mustang,
Chevrolet Corvette and a deTomaso Pantera.
Comments? Please go to: http://autowriters.com/blog/autowriters-spotlight-john-davis
Nice if it is a harbinger of things to come - Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper
has “revved up its auto section both online and print,” reports Kristin Laird in
Marketing Magazine’s Media News. She quotes the paper’s advertising
vice-president, Andrew Saunders, “You’ll be able to find passionate journalism
that matches the person’s passion for driving–that’s going to be the key point
of difference. Everyone drives, so we wanted to take a more lifestyle approach.”
weekly auto section is now titled “Globe Drive” and its online companion
www.GlobeDrive.com has added more photos and video.
Wooden Horse News reports:
Aftermarket Business, the auto title from Advanstar Communications, will go
online-only. The December issue will be its last. Starting in January, the title
will publish a monthly digital version as well as twice-weekly e-newsletters.
. . . A survey of 3,800 people in a cross-section of newspapers' newsrooms
revealed they are not the
ones slowing the change from print to digital. As reported by Mediapost, a study
University’s Media Management Center, found almost half of today’s journalists
think their newsroom’s transition to digital is moving too slowly. Those most
favoring the change are involved in internet use outside of work and those with
knowledge of online users and their preferences. . . . However, in a speech
by New York Times executive editor
to the paper’s digital staff,
he described prioritizing the web at the paper as ”our Manhattan Project,”
according to Zachary Stewart writing for the
Nieman Journalism Lab.
Washington Post will merge its print and online operations January 1,2010 . . .
Volkswagen is launching its newest GTI without using any traditional media. Only
online will be used, with a free downloadable game featuring the car and a
contest with six real cars being awarded.
“Social purpose is the new
social status,” according to Mitch Markson, chief creative officer for Edelman
Worldwide and creator of the company’s, “goodpurpose Consumer Study.” As
reported by Aaron Baar in Marketing Daily, the study shows consumers are more
inclined than ever to spend their money with companies and brands that have
dedicated themselves to a social purpose. As many as 67 percent of the 6,000
persons surveyed in 10 countries said they would switch brands if another brand
of similar quality sported a cause they were interested in and the same number
said they would buy a hybrid car over a luxury car.
Click here to get a PDF of the
study (48 pages).
Comments? Please go to:
Advertising Age reports that Hyundai and General Motors are among
companies faced with “squatters” using their name as a Twitter site. The
last thing you’ll see at Twitter’s @Hyundai page is a car and,
Parkekh writes Twitter has not responded to complaints. One way of
Twitter compelling sign ups as self defense against others using your name
or brand on the social network.
African American On Wheels
editor was first to promise a review of the Legendary Race Cars book.
Jeff Zurschmeide’s offer came in second. However, he reports that his
"Automotive Welding: A Practical Guide" is in its second printing after
3 months on the market and his new MINI Performance Handbook is due in
May. . . Huffington Post will launch a Los Angeles city edition of its
national news commentary web site and
Steve Parker, who has covered the
world of cars and trucks for the national edition will do likewise for
the L.A. version. He says, “It’ll allow me to get into stories which
have that unique ‘Los Angeles angle’ you can’t find anywhere else," and
cites celebrity cars, auto design studios, customizers, auto
innovators and the Petersen Museum, as all on his beat.
cars are selling fast supports a Jim Muise "Any Driven Sunday" column
forwarded here. He laments passing of the brand, particularly after
test-driving one, and blames its demise not only on the old GM’s incompetence
but also on media and politicians applying dated information and
mistakes of the past in assessing its worth - without actually driving
the current iterations.
There is an automobile, truck and motorcycle event in Wichita. Kans. next August 26-29.
Promoter Frank Upton promises
“the largest cash prize offered of $25.000” with top cars from around the
United States competing. He estimates 3,000 to 5,000 and automobiles and
an equal number of motorcycles attending the Black Top Nationals. For
more information contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. . . .
Susan Pi of
Heyday Books and Heyday Institute in Berkeley, Calif. plugs a new book
“Wheels of Change: From Zero to 600 Miles Per Hour, The Amazing
Story of California and the Automobile. The author is Kevin
Nelson (www.kevinnelsonwriter.com )
who has penned books on baseball, running and one for fathers-to-be. Pi
says the book, “brings to life the personalities that have helped shape
the story of California's love affair with cars.” Contact her about
a review copy at: Susan@heydaybooks.com.
While no age bracket is provided in reporting its latest study“
The Generation Y Opportunity,” AutoPacific says they are younger drivers
and far more open to Chinese or Indian branded vehicles
than the generation before them. AutoPacific president George Petersen
says, “Growing up with continuously evolving technology and electronics
has given Generation Y a unique ability to adapt easily to change, a
willingness to accept new brands, and an expectation that their vehicle
provide the best of what is available.” . . . Exactly what kind of car
Generation Y will want in 2030 will be a market force and design studios
from Audi, GM, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and
Toyota will provide their
visions of what that may be in this year’s design challenge at The Los
Angeles Auto Show, with the winner announced Dec. 3.
The International Motor Sports Association
and Cooper Tires are
partnering and have renamed IMSA’s prototype development series the
Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship. It will feature an expanded
schedule and a points restructuring that will make the competition
Comments? Please go to:
The shaking of the auto industry’s foundation and the downturn in
advertising brought a sudden and serious retrenchment at NADA. The
award-wining Auto Exec Magazine was shuttered Oct. 9 and all but one of
the seasoned pros covering the dealer side of the automotive business
were cut loose. Joe Phillips remains to work with NADA’s online
communications department while Marc Stertz, Joan Mooney,
Shreve and Peter Craig depart. Stertz chose to retire as executive
director of publications after 21 years with the magazine which had its
beginnings in 1917 and whose readership was recently ranked only behind
Automotive News among automotive trade publications. Stertz plans to
consult in publications management (print and online) and can be reached
at Marcstertz@yahoo.com. Senior editors Joan Mooney and MaryAnne Shreve,
and managing editor Peter Craig are on the market at this writing and
can be reached respectively, at: email@example.com,
Joni Gray is an auto blogger for the
L.A. Examiner.com and is busy
on freelance assignments now that she has been laid off by the L.A.
Times. A former Sr. Editor at Kelley Blue Book, and previously in
advertising and marketing management with Mazda, Hyundai and
welcomes more freelance work and can be reached at
. . . Barry Toepke has departed RWB, LLC marketing and PR firm and is
prepping announcement of the new, treasured responsibility he is
undertaking in automotive PR.
may have stepped down
as editor but not away from The Truth About Cars blog he founded. Still
fighting to right wrongs wherever he sees them in autodom, he recently
dissed Automotive News for chastising Fortune Magazine’s publication of
insider criticisms of GM that bordered on gossip . . . . . AutoWeek has
named Dutch Mandel associate publisher and editorial director, upped Roger Hart from managing editor to executive editor and named
editor of the print magazine and www.AutoWeek.com.
Nancy Lewis has
departed SAE International and Sean Andreassi is now SAE’s Manager of
Corporate Communications . . . . Michael Taylor has retired from the
staff of the San Francisco Chronicle but still does occasional reviews
for its auto blog Top Down (www.sfgate.com/autos). He can be reached
for other assignments at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments? Please go to:
Glenn F. Campbell
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SMU Professor Tony Pederson, honoree
Kellyn Curtis & TAWA’s Harold Gunn
Southern Methodist Journalism student Kellyn Curtis was awarded
Russell Purcell won the Journalist of the Year award presented by
Land Rover of Canada
at the Automotive Journalists of Canada‘s annual dinner.
won the 2009 Julie Wilkinson Motorsports Award presented by
Canada Inc. (BSCA).
Collectible Automobile®, a consumerguide.com companion publication, has
been honored by the Society of Automotive Historians
(SAH) for the
magazine’s coverage of automotive history
APA, Breakfast, Detroit, MI, Ron Harbour
WAPA Luncheon, Washington, JW Marriott, BMW
IMPA Luncheon, Mazda, 3 West Club, New
York City, NY
SAMA Luncheon, Annual Election, Rusty Pelican, Miami Beach, FL
National Automotive History Collection, Automotive
Authors book Fair, Detroit, MI
SAMA, Rides-n-Smiles Charity Benefit, Homestead, FL
Advanced Battery Value Chain Summit, AED Conference,
Earth, Wind & Power Car and Truck Awards, sponsored by
Bridgestone, Los Angeles Marriott Downtown, Los Angeles, CA
MPG Breakfast, Opening Media Day L.A. Auto Show, General
Los Angeles Auto Show Media Days
Los Angeles Auto Show, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Petersen Automotive Museum Garage Sale and Swap Meet, Los
APA Luncheon, DAC, Detroit, MI
MPG Dinner, Dean Batchelor Awards, Automotive Museum, El
NEMPA, Annual Holiday Party, Boston, MA
PRI Trade Show, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando,
National Automotive History Collection, Collectible
Vehicle of the Future Award, Detroit, MI
Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Breakfast Seminar,
2010 Forecast, Ann Arbor Marriott, MI
APA NACTOY Luncheon, Detroit, MI
SAMA, Annual Holiday Party, TBD
NAIAS Press Review, Detroit, MI
Automotive News World Congress, Detroit, MI
On Wheels, Urban 2010 Car, Truck and Green Vehicles of
the Year, Sound Board Theater, Motor City Hotel and Casino, Detroit, MI
NEMPA Dinner, P.J. O'Rourke, Boston, MA
MPG Luncheon, Proud Bird, Los Angeles, CA
3rd Annual Wheels of Wellness Vintage Race Car Showcase,
The Wellness Community, Phoenix, AZ
motoring press organizations
The 15 regional automotive press associations provide
information and background not easily found elsewhere.
If they are too distant to attend their meetings,
belonging usually gives you access to transcripts or reports of
these events and other benefits.
Automotive Press Association, Detroit - Katie Kerwin
International Motor Press
Association, NYC, Fred Chieco, President -
Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association
Midwest Automotive Media
Association, Chicago -
Motor Press Guild, Los Angeles -
New England Motor
Press Association, Boston -
Automotive Press Association, Bellevue, WA-
Phoenix Automotive Press
Association, Phoenix, Cathy Droz, President-
Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, Denver -email@example.com
Southern Automotive Media
Association, Miami FL, Ron Beasley, President,
Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC
Texas Auto Writers Association
http://www.TexasAutoWriters.org, Harold Gunn,
of North America, www.twna.org Tom Kelley, Executive Director,
Western Automotive Journalists,
San Francisco - www.waj.org, Ron Harrison
Automotive Press Association, D.C., Rick Trawick, President www.washautopress.org
The following are some comments that were posted on the blog and
sent directly to us:
October Road Ahead
Everyone ignores the issue of the survival of the Associated
Press, which is the primary bastion of news reporting around the
world. Without legitimate news organizations to pay dues, how
can it survive? And without AP, can there be any such thing as
As Don's new writing partner, I can attest to his
professionalism and knowledge of the industry. I'm a seasoned
writer, but I'm new to this genre. So, having access to his
expertise has been invaluable.
Besides all that, he's fun to work with!
I always enjoy and learn from your newsletter, but this month's
might be the best yet.
Please do keep up the good work.
Maybe you already hear this from plenty of people...but if my
experience is any guide, you don't hear it from nearly as many
people as you should.
At the end it invited comments, this email addy is where I ended
up. My comment ...Yadada yadada yadada .... so tell me something I don't know ...
until the last couple sentences about writing something
interesting vs "regurgitation" of trunk specs.
Krider is missing it. Car reviews should be for information, not
entertainment (which is where most autojournos think
"interesting" goes), maybe only because within the attempts to
be interesting, the bullshit (about the truth about cars) flows.
I always include trunk size in my car reviews. You're
bullshitting (lightly, indirectly .... and granted from a
hardcore point of view, for the sake of argument here) the
reader by depriving him/her of info, if you don't.
In other words .... trunk size is objective, "interesting" is
What's regurgitating is repeating the manufacturers' boasts
about golf bags.
Reality is, it's real hard to get to the "truth" (performance
evaluation) in the amount of seat time we get, nowadays. And so
few are qualified anyhow.
Trunk size matters.
Re: Autowriters Newsletter
You guys always do a fantastic job with this newsletter. Thanks!
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