By on July 10, 2008

Or not.According to an editor's note in yesterday's LA Times, the Autos section, Highway 1, is no more. The likely reasons? The LA Times is having a hard time making money. Subscriptions and circulation are down, paper, ink, and distribution costs are way up. This is true for most print newspapers, and something's gotta go. Why they picked autos, I don't know, since the biggest part of the budget is Dan Neil's salary. And that will stay put as he moves over to the business section for his charming reviews (he hits the Alfa MiTo this week). The bulk of the rest of the section is advertisements, and I'm fairly certain the LA Times gets paid for those. Still, this was an accounting department decision, so we can be sure the math added up. For a city like LA, so steeped in car culture, this is a sad development. And yet not at all surprising. Kevin Roderick over at LA Observed thinks Home, Real Estate, Books, and Food are lined up for the guillotine, also. Meanwhile, Crain's Detroit Business reports that it's only a matter of time before The Detroit News sends its cheerleaders packing. "Dwindling circulation, plummeting retail and classified advertising sales and the tribulations of metro Detroit's economy make this two-newspaper town an 'anomaly,' said Rem Rieder, editor and senior vice president of the American Journalism Review." How ironic is that?

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27 Comments on “LA Times Kills Auto Section (Forced Relocation for Dan Neil)...”


  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    Great picture of the wife – what is she doing here!?

  • avatar
    thalter

    The Cleveland Plain Dealer let go of Chris Jenson, their auto beat writer, a year or so ago for the same reasons (cost). He has since been replaced with local and syndicated Advertorials, of the type that Frank Williams blew the whistle on a few months back. Pretty pathetic.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    I’m sure that their editors and writers have long hated the internal combustion engine anyway. Funny to see them realize, as a propaganda machine, that they have to make a profit.

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    I wish newspaper decomposed faster

  • avatar
    crackers

    Does anyone actually read the newspaper Auto sections? I thought they were there solely as a place to put car ads. It’s often difficult to tell where the articles end and the ads begin.

  • avatar
    jpc0067

    That sucks. Read Dan Neil and Susan Carpenter online every Wednesday. Guess they get to spend some time with their kids now.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    The Boston Globe let go their auto reviewers a while back, replaced with syndicated content. I don’t really miss them, since they primarily reviewed extremely expensive cars for rich folks. Maybe if the editor had been more on the ball the reviews wouldn’t have been fluff (and therefore easy to kill).

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Newspapers are in a death sprial. Falling readership leads to falling advertising. Falling advertising brings cost cutting. Cost cutting gets rid of things the remaining readers used to like. Readership falls more. Revenue continues to fall. More cost cuts. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    I picked up a copy of our local “big” paper, the San Jose Mercury News, in the bagel shop yesterday. Having given up my subscription several years ago I was shocked by how little is left in the thing. In fifteen minutes or so I had read everything of interest that I didn’t already know about … most of that on the editorial and letters page.

    Small specialty newspapers still have interesting local content, but for national and international news the paper is dead.

  • avatar
    SpacemanSpiff

    Dan also did a review of the Fiat 500 this week. I spent 35 minutes configuring a 500 last night. Mmmmm Forbidden Fruit…..

  • avatar

    At least they are keeping Neil.

    @friedclams: the Globe’s auto writer did a great job in the early ’00s. Don’t know what happened. The Globe’s auto section had been almost pure fluff lately.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    .
    Though newspaper automotive advertorial sections cater to the certifiably gullible, the Toronto Star Wheels insert is apparently a cash cow. What does it know the LA Times doesn’t?

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Re the Boston Globe, I stopped reading the auto section when John White retired.

  • avatar
    Pat Holliday

    Back in the early ’90s we used to have a sh*tty cable TV channel over here (UK) called Live TV. One daily segment was called “Tiffany’s Big City Tips” (trying saying it quickly).. in which an attractive brunette presented a summary of stock market activity while she stripped down to a bikini.

    Over the last few days, TTAC appears to have hijacked this format.. why the pic of the dolly bird, exactly?

    (ps – I’m not complaining. Really, I’m not..;)

  • avatar
    Kevin

    All them useless journalists need to,like, become nurses or — if we can somehow spot them an extra 40 IQ points apiece — Lithium Ion battery engineers.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    Over the last few days, TTAC appears to have hijacked this format.. why the pic of the dolly bird, exactly?

    That is a cheerleader (which America employs for sideline entertainment, since we have no soccer hooligans and riots) — and the theme is the travails of cheerleading auto journalists who keep blindly rah-rahing Detroit. Or something like that.

  • avatar
    TeeKay

    I have a grievance – the TTAC has becoming increasingly work-unfriendly, what’s with all the scantily dressed babes? Do you want to get me fired for unable to resist clicking on the pixs? What ever happened to a wholesome, honest car journal?

  • avatar
    Cicero

    The L.A. Times shed its credibility as a source of objective information years ago and has been hemorraghing readers for a long time. Now it’s GM in miniature, saddled with a hard-earned reputation for BAD while trying to compete against better, cheaper competitors on the net.

  • avatar
    trlstanc

    Ok, what’s up with the girlie pictures these days? It’s getting so that I can’t even scroll down through the news without being slightly embarrassed at work.

  • avatar

    tristanc:

    Ok, what’s up with the girlie pictures these days? It’s getting so that I can’t even scroll down through the news without being slightly embarrassed at work.

    TeeKay:

    I have a grievance – the TTAC has becoming increasingly work-unfriendly, what’s with all the scantily dressed babes? Do you want to get me fired for unable to resist clicking on the pixs? What ever happened to a wholesome, honest car journal?

    One out of two ain’t bad! Seriously, I’ll use this as the podcast intro so we can debate it. Suffice it to say we may have a solution…

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    Lets face it. TTAC is a much better way to learn about cars and the car business than a newspaper. Especially a newspaper that doesn’t care.

    TTAC quickly puts out car news and we can add history and opinions quickly. I have learned a great deal from the people who have added history to the TTAC news stories.

    I stopped reading the AZ Republic many years ago because they decided to be a Sports Illustrated wannabe (without the swimsuit issue) and pretty much forgot about cars.

    Cars and trucks are EXTREMELY important to LA and Phoenix so it is a mystery to me why the local newspapers ignore REAL car reviews and don’t offer pages of car business news.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    This is sad news as I read the LA Times Automotive section every week and enjoy Dan’s writing a great deal. He also writes a very entertaining article in the back of the LA Times monthly Sunday section (cut back from a weekly Sunday special section due to previous budget slashing). And there’s that Pulitzer Prize thingy. He’s extremely talented but I fear he’ll be waisted in the Times business section. What bothers me most of all is how hard it is for a talented writer who creates exceptional content to find a home/financial support in the current media environment. My best hope is that after he’s been beaten down by realities of the imploding newspaper business, Dan’s work will start appearing regularly on TTAC for FREE! (He’ll of course have to have found something else to do in the interim to earn a living)

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    I’m surprised they are cutting the auto section.

    Dan Neil was one a lone island of truth in a vast sea of company sponsored BS.

    Cars and real estate ads are the two big streams of ad revenue for any paper.

  • avatar
    austinseven

    Couldn’t happen to better bunch of charlatans. Apart from Dan Neil and Jim Kenzie in Canada, the rest of them can go work for Bon Appetit ASAP.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    As a former (and still at times, I wish current) Los Angeles resident, I can say that it was due to Highway 1 that I first found out about TTAC years ago (I think the first review I ever read was RF’s review of the original Euro-Elise and I’ve wanted one ever since.) It was during the whole LA Times vs General Motors/Pontiac G6 love-fest and it was refreshing to have someone in an ad-based industry actually call out a huge ad money maker about the junk they produced. I guess that helped the downward spiral.

    The only paper newspaper car sections I’ve continued to read were Dan Neil’s columns and LA is now worse off with their papers with this happening. Fine. Let the rest of the papers continue their press release reviews and fluff junk about how the Saturn Ion was the best car to save GM and so on.

    Maybe we can get Neil to write a column or two for TTAC…I think it would be a nice touch to a site where people from across the Pond, sales people, auto workers, auto fans, racers, R8 owners, and expert writers all contribute. Couldn’t resist the R8 thing…

  • avatar
    BKW

    The original Highway 1 section was at least 10 pages long and contained all sorts of auto related stuff including a weekly history quiz that awarded a prize for the first correct answers.

    The prize was a plastic drinking mug emblazoned with the Highway 1 logo. It wasn’t too long after introduction that the Times killed off most of the features including the history quiz (my wife said they prolly killed it off because I won all the mugs (not quite true).

    Sometime last year, Dan Neil in his weekly road test feature, panned the Pontiac G6 saying it wasn’t a very good car. GM retaliated by pulling all their Corporate ads from the newspaper for several months. Typical GM = ppl said GM doing that scheiss was like cutting off their nose to spite their face!

    The San Gabriel Tribune has a Saturday section called Motorway which features a semi-humorous column by Click and Clack, all sorts of upcoming events, other auto related stories (one has to read thru the whole shittery to find them) and one road test of a new vehicle on page one.

    Also on page one is a related story inre to the tested vehicle, shamelessly touting of one of their new car dealer advertisers and their operation. One of the dealers (a Ford store in Pasadena) just went out of business…so much for touting!

  • avatar
    BKW

    The Times said Dan Neil’s column will be in the back pages of the Friday’s Business section, along with other auto related stories.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    The Highway 1 section was (at this point) just the auto dealer ads with a couple reviews. So, not too much was lost, IMHO-the auto reviews move the to business section, and the auto ads remain.


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