december 2007 newsletter

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BorgWarner = All-Wheel Drive

The BorgWarner Experience Feel Good About Driving

the road ahead

Prognostications for the New Year are in season and here are some harvested from the Internet that seem to spell opportunity in a very general sense for autowriters.  Implicit in all is the drive towards the seemingly self-contradictory goal of personal mass communications.

The logic begins with anthropologist-turned-brand-strategist Cheryl Swanson, a partner in the trend-tracking firm Toniq.  As quoted in Advertising Age by Lenore Skenazy, Swanson notes: “We are processing information at 400 times the rate of our Renaissance ancestors," she says.  This is a new human task that we haven't had time to adapt to yet -- physically or mentally.  Moreover, with that 400 times more information did not come 400 more hours in a day.  So we steal that time from sleep, both deliberately (by working late into the night) and not (by being too wound up to drift off).”  One of the solutions she offers to this deluge of data is greater organization and the ultimate goal of personalized messages.

Dave Morgan, writing in Online Spin predicts: “What's next? Content orbiting is coming.  I think that we are very soon going to see massively scaled content, social and Web service networks spring up much in the same mold as today's online ad networks.  They will take over parts of the pages of widely distributed networks of thousands and millions of sites and 'orbit' content around users, just as ad networks  'orbit' ads around users.”  Marketing messages will be targeted at “users” instead of pages.

Joe Marchese, also writing in Online Spin observes: "Creating compelling content is more work, and brands must be willing to give up some control -- but if marketers cannot figure out how their brand becomes a part of social media content, then perhaps their brand should become a part of history."

Following this same line, online marketing executive Dilip DaSilva predicts, as reported by Sarah Novotny, in highly customized and immersive marketing experiences; more professionally produced viral content, applications that “learn” and more “virtual worlds” inhabited by like-minded communities of users and the ability to aggregate like-minded users.

Lastly, Rick Milenthal, writing in Ad Age predicts: “If we want to succeed, we must stop shoving irrelevant, ill-timed content down people's throats.  What matters is what people show and tell us, and our work should reflect what we know about them.”


road signs

Travel + Leisure Family will cease as a stand alone publication after its Spring 2008 issue.  American Express Publishing will put more emphasis on its Travel + Leisure website. . . . A federal court recently ruled that freelancers need to have registered their work with the United States Copyright Office in order to sue for damages under copyright law.  This tossed out an agreement between freelancers and publishers covering payment for electronic reproduction of their work. . . . Wal-Mart reportedly is reducing the number of magazines they will distribute by two thirds - from 3000 titles to about 1100.  The chain accounts for as many as 40% of single copy sales for many consumer magazines.

The Press, PR and Media Digest reports that a journalist in England attributes pressure to have positive stories outweigh negative stories in his newspaper to advertisers not wanting to be associated with bad news in the belief that happy people are more willing to spend money . . . The publication also reports: A patent issued Google suggests that the company is working on a kiosk that would print -on demand- a magazine with editorial and advertising customized to a specific reader, and last, that Today, Tomorrow, Toyota won a top prize in England’s custom publishing awards.

Car Art News reports Ferarri tops its list of Top 10 Marques in auto art. Check the complete list at . . . Hyundai has broached the once sacrosanct public school classroom with a clever multi-platform tie-in promotion with the History Channel.  Through its sponsorship of “This Day In History” it will appear almost daily on the TV channel, its website and mobile messaging, and in budget-starved eighth grade classrooms that welcome a DVD, posters, study materials and teachers guide provided by the car maker. . . .  has partnered with Digital Element, a provider of IP Intelligence solutions which allow businesses to segment their online audiences based on users' geographic locations, as well as additional parameters such as domain name, connection speed, and ZIP code. hopes to thereby improve the delivery of relevant information to visitors at its four automotive web sites.


autowriters spotlight
Ron Beasley

Ron Beasley’s success in making the Miami - Southern Automotive Media Association a reality makes him particularly deserving of this month’s Autowriters Spotlight. Participating in Tom Kelley’s far-flung Southeastern Automotive Media Organization was difficult for numerous Florida autowriters.  Their own association facilitates getting together for professional and fun reasons, witness their approaching Biscayne Bay holiday cruise.

Ron Beasley is a veteran journalist who has worked in various capacities in both newspapers and television news for more than 40 years.  A graduate of the University of Miami, Beasley began his journalistic career in 1963 as a copy boy at the Miami Herald.  He soon was assigned to the sports desk writing high school sports and taking telephone re-writes.  Beasley later moved on to the Miami News where he worked as the assistant business editor to the renowned financial editor Larry Birger.  In 1967, Beasley was offered a position in television news as a cameraman-reporter at the then CBS affiliate in Miami, WTVJ.  He accepted, went to work with the legendary Ralph Renick and rose to the level of executive producer.  Beasley spent the next 20 years in television news in various capacities, working at WSB-TV in Atlanta, KGO-ABC TV in San Francisco, and the Cable Health Network and Telepictures in Los Angeles, where he was instrumental in airing Newscope, one of the first satellite-fed “soft” news programs in the U.S.

In 1998, Beasley returned to newspapers, taking a position as an editor-reporter with Miami’s Community Newspapers. Shortly thereafter, he was given the title of automotive editor and began writing a weekly new car review under the banner of Let’s Talk Cars. Today, Beasley continues in the employ of Community Newspapers, writing his weekly new car review column and editing the flagship of the company’s 17 newspapers, The Pinecrest Tribune.


top blogs

A survey of business journalists reveals that 84 per cent of them use blogs as primary or secondary sources of information.  AWCom has no additional nominees for top auto blogs but we did get a response to our report about the low ROI (return on investment) in blogging.

The Truth About Cars founder, Robert Farago, wrote: “TTAC has increased the fee we pay for 800-word articles-- reviews and rants-- from $50 to $100 per article.  Blog posts (approx. 100 words) are now worth $25 each.  It ain't much, but it's double our previous fee and better than our first payment (nothing).  We are determined to do everything in our power to become the highest-paying online automotive publication for freelancers, bar none. Also we're looking for a freelance car review co-ordinator (RCO).  The RCO must work with manufacturers, schedule reviews, keep in touch with all TTAC reviewers, fact check work and (in my dreams) edit submitted material.  The position pays $250 a week, plus standard compensation for published work."


pit notes

While the thrust of AutoExtremist Peter De Lorenzo’s recent rant on Carroll Shelby is hard to dispute and, while “the truth” according to Shelby always seemed contingent upon the audience and circumstance, he characterized the Viper as Chrysler’s attempt to capitalize on him rather than vice versa.  Shelby referred to it as “Lutz’s car” and beyond saying he wanted to build his own successor to the Cobra, Carroll had sketches and details of what it would be. 

As for the Shelby American Automobile Club, it was a promotion from the start.  Carroll helped blow up that balloon and even helped its founders siphon money from Chrysler to help their endeavors.  Its founders have made money, good money, from it and Shelby profited from it as well.  Now, like most promoters, they have come to the inevitable falling out.  But to fault Carroll for his avarice is like complaining that Billy The Kid shot people. It is the flaw that drives the legend.

Michael Davis’ new book, “Detroit’s Wartime Industry: Arsenal of Democracy” has just been published by Arcadia.   Arcadia has previously published Davis’ photo histories of Ford, Chrysler and GM, among the nine books he has had published to date.  This one highlights former GM President William S. Knudsen’s leadership in the speedy transformation of the Motor City’s mass-production lines to military equipment.  It has 227 images over 128 pages and be can be ordered ($19.98) through

Reports here of Deke Houlgate’s first novel, Blood On The Wall, prompted Ted West to tell of his as yet unnamed novel also based on auto racing.  He says, ‘It’s probably a lot less blood and guts than Deke’s, but its got all the rivalries, crashes, illicit sex - and one case of murder-by-racing – you could want.”  West’s story involves Porsche-Ferrari competition in World Manufacturer’s Championship races in Europe.

Jim Falmmang, veteran writer/publisher of Tire Kicking Today, wants auto editors to check out his reviews, reports and commentaries at for inclusion in their publication’s offerings.  For that matter, Bill Maloney would welcome similar consideration of his whimsical weekly column about autodom, “A Bunch of Maloney,” that runs in the Honolulu Advertiser.  Contact  and you may get some of Eau Clair, Wis. meatpacker’s Maloney’s’ Baloney as an inducement.

LE 2008 LeMONS SCHEDULE Jay Lamm announces: “After much fiddling and diddling and rending of hair--which, clearly, I can hardly afford--we've finally nailed down the 2008 schedule.  Several racetrack owners had to be locked into broom closets to get this together, so I hope something in here works for you:

  • May 10-11, 2008: Altamont Motorsports Park, Tracy CA
  • June 21-22, 2008: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas NV
  • July 26-27, 2008: Carolina Motorsports Park, Kershaw SC
  • August 23-24, 2008: Stafford Motor Speedway, Stafford Springs CT
  • September 13-14, 2008: Toledo Speedway (Detroit), Toledo OH
  • October TBD, 2008: Thunderhill Raceway Park, Willows CA. 

Okay--a couple quick notes. First, we may add one or two more races later. Then again, we may not.  Frankly, I'm a little bit woozy just thinking about it right now.  Second, the entry deadline for each '08 race will be ten weeks before the event.  As always, after the deadline our illustrious comrades in the Glorious People's Selection Secretariat will choose teams from amongst all the received applications.  Acceptance/rejection notices will go out the following week."

New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP), in Southern New Jersey with five Motorsports venues, will host five major spectator races in its first year of operation and 34 club and driver school events have already been booked, filling out the schedule.  The marquee race of the season – Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series – is slated for August 29 – 31.

Tim Miller’s American Driver magazine has been named one of the hottest magazine launches of the past year by MIN Magazine. It was selected for its impact on the category. Richard Truesdell’s Automotive Traveler won equal recognition among online magazine launches that have staid the course over the past 12 months.

Basem Wasef writes: “My book, Legendary Motorcycles, was recently released.  I traveled across the country once in a 1983 Porsche 911 SC and again by air to photograph the bikes made famous by personalities including James Dean, Elvis, and Steve McQueenJay Leno wrote the foreword, and more is available at”


lane changes

Michael Spinelli has stepped down as editor of Technocrati’s automotive blog aggregation, Jalopnik.  Ray Wert succeeds him and J.F. Musial has been signed on as contributor.  Now that he is not tied to the day-to-day chores of editing one of the first and most well-regarded blogs, Spinelli anticipates being freewheeling while continuing to contribute to Jalopnik, Popular Science, Wired and Maxim.

Also looking forward to being master of his own time is Bob Austin, who retires as General Manager, Communications at Rolls Royce Motor Cars, NA., at the end of the year.  Karen Vonder Meulen will take over his PR duties while Austin anticipates consulting in marketing and PR.  . . . Editor Tom Appel reports that Consumer Guide Automotive has promoted Rick Cotta to senior editor and added Tim Healey and Don Sikora II as associate editors. . . . Jim Henry, Automotive News’ one-man New York Bureau for 15 years before going to Mercedes-Benz USA marketing, keeps running into folks who don’t know that he left AN five years ago and others who don’t know he left the car company.  He is freelancing, seen often on and in Automotive News.

Not a lane change, but a name change for Bill Moore’s emagazine which switched from Speed Machines to SpeedStyle Magazine so he could be master of his own domain and not pay royalties to the fellow who owns the other. . . . Dave Boe, whose unexpected departure from the Chicago-area Daily Herald newspaper after 24 years with the paper was reported previously, notes that his “severancing" also took work from his stable of freelance writers that included Scott MannaBob Kocher, Susan Frissell, Paul Brian and others.  Boe is now a freelancer himself and contributes reviews to

Chad Gallion, formerly with Hamon & Associates, a Santa Monica , Calif., PR firm, is now a writer with in Culver City, Calif. and also contributes to . . . Allison Altzman Executive Administrator of the Motor Press Guild has resigned that post due to the growth of her other business.  MPG president Mitch McCullough is developing a new job description preliminary to seeking her replacement.


talk back

AWCom got no replies to its question about AP editing software. But we did get a generous response from CarBuzzard John Matras, to the question about writers insurance.  He wrote, “I don't know about errors and omissions insurance, but I've incorporated.  Well, not incorporated but formed an LLC.  I'd recommend any freelancer to cover his/her assets with a layer of protection even if not an impenetrable shield.  An LLC has many advantages to an Inc., including not having to have officers; you don't have all the dividend and periodic payout requirements.  You can take money out at any time, etc.  Depending on how much you trust your spouse, you can make him/her partial owner, which can have tax advantages.  And you can even use it just for regular article writing, which has to be treated as a business no matter how it’s a product of your personal muse."


awards, honors and events

The expanded Dean Batchelor Awards dinner saw Preston Lerner win for the year’s best article: Fast and Spurious that appeared in the January West Magazine; Ed Justice, Jr. for best audio/ visual: a January Road & Track SpeedLouise Noeth’s Winning Photo “Salton Sea Roadster" Radio interview with Charley Hughes; Bernard Cahier for best book: F-Stops, Pit Stops, Laughter and Tears and Louise Noeth for best photography: Salton Sea Roadster.  Noeth’s vivid account of how her winning photo was created (with the help of an astronomer, a Marine and several others) is available at  From these four winners, the Dean Batchelor award went to Cahier.

Actress Rosie Perez and Entertainment Tonight correspondent Kevin Frazier will co-host the Urban Wheels Awards gala during the North American International Auto Show. Multiple Awards will be presented at the Fox Theater, Detroit.



11 NEMPA holiday party, Boston
12 WAJ Dinner, South San Francisco
15 School of Industrial Design Open House, Academy of Art University, San Francisco
16 SAMA holiday cruise party, Biscayne Bay.
20 MPG Lunch, 3 West Club, NYC Speaker TBA
29-30 24 Hour of LeMONS, Thunderhill, Race Track, California


8 MPG Luncheon, Los Angeles, Chevrolet
12 AAWRBA Annual Awards Dinner, Hyatt, Indianapolis
12 Int'l Car of the Year Awards, Black Tie Gala MGM Grand, Detroit
13-15 North American Int’l Auto Show, Press Preview, Detroit
22 Washington Auto Show Keynote, Mark LaNeve, GM


motoring press organizations

The 14 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,
IMPA International Motor Press Association, NYC, Fred Chieco, President -,
MAMA Midwest Automotive Media Association, Chicago -
MPG Motor Press Guild, Los Angeles -
NEMPA New England Motor Press Association, Boston -
NWAPA Northwest Automotive Press Association, Port Orchard, WA-
PAPA Phoenix Automotive Press Association, Phoenix, Cathy Droz, President- 
RMAP Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, Denver -
SAMA Southern Automotive Media Association, Miami FL, Ron Beasley, President,
SEAMO Southeast Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC
TAWA Texas Auto Writers Association, Harold Gunn, 
TWNA Truck Writers of North America, Tom Kelley, Executive Director,
WAJ   Western Automotive Journalists, San Francisco  -, Ron Harrison
WAPA Washington Automotive Press Association, D.C., Kimatni Rawlins, President -


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Glenn F. Campbell

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awards list

Thanks to reader responses AWCom has a more complete list of “Car of The Year Awards.” Additions are welcome.  An asterisk beside a list award means we need the results when available.




















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