By on April 4, 2011

It may well be wishful thinking on my part, but in the three years that I’ve been covering the world of cars, I do feel like I’ve seen a subtle but perceptible improvement in the general quality of the automotive media. Obviously the progress hasn’t been evenly distributed, but more outlets seem to be tip-toeing towards more in-depth stories, better analysis and more independence from the forces of OEM PR. Why? Possibly because the industry’s many challenges are providing more and better stories about cars, or possibly because the recent downturn made OEMs more open to less obviously-friendly writers, outlets and story pitches. One thing is certain: the growth of online automotive media has certainly played a role, putting more pressure on the established outlets, branching out into media criticism and reconnecting auto writers to the readers they serve.

For a while now, blogs have benefited from a lack of faith in the entrenched world of automotive print journalism. But, as print outlets have started to respond to the online threat and online outlets become increasingly sucked into the “PR Friendly” maelstrom that engulfed the buff books’ credibility, a new phenomenon seems to be on the rise which threatens the blogs from the very point of attack that helped them vault into the ranks of the auto media establishment: the “enthusiast reporter.”

What launched the blogs into relevance was their ability to break free from the comfortable “insider’s club” that dominated the mainstream auto media. From the outset, blogs made their outsider status a fundamental element of their brands, juxtaposing their struggles to maintain editorial independence against the cozily protective fluff of the big car magazines. Now, however, as some auto blogs eclipse the reach of some long-established auto magazines, their outsider status is no longer a given. Whereas online criticism of the automotive media was initially focused on buff book sponsored “pimpatorials” and other excesses, now it is becoming more of a tool of inter-blog sniping than journalistic principle. After all, in the new automotive media, the names have changed but the underlying dynamic of access-versus-editorial independence remain.

And as the autoblogosphere increasingly turns on itself, the manufacturers seem to be increasingly looking past the new elite of online automotive journalism, to fans, “lifestyle journalists,” mommybloggers and other less immediately credible but more reliably positive outlets to publicize their products and initiatives. Jack Baruth examined one of the more recent examples of this today in his piece on the Acura TL launch, but that’s hardly the only example. Jack’s piece on OEM-sponsored bloggers at the Detroit Auto Show, and a recent Jalopnik piece on Nissan and Hyundai-sponsored coverage of the New York Auto Show all expose the same growing phenomenon.

And, if we examine the underlying causes of this shift, there seems little reason for this trend to end any time soon. On the most fundamental level, it allows the OEMs to end-run around the growing problem of editorial independence, itself a product of blog-driven competition for new readers. Possibly more dangerously though, these “amateur reporters” also rely on another blog-world crutch: the assumption that untrained amateurs understand consumer experiences as well or better than “automotive journalists.” These folks, who in many cases have (at best) a one-person blog or (at worst) simply a Twitter account may not be creating memorable content, but they’re doing a great job of making blogs at like the new old auto media, forever harumphing at the ill-informed opinions of the uninitiated.

That’s where this dynamic becomes downright dangerous. Established blogs have earned their recent lofty positions in the auto media by playing up the outsider perspective that they are now so quick to slam. Now, by reacting to “enthusiast reporters” as a threat, they reduce their only competitive advantage (other than sheer timeliness)  vis-a-vis the buff books, just as magazines are slowly starting to respond by improving the two-way conversation between outlet and readers. After all, if a blog sends a writer to a manufacturer-funded launch event, how is that different than a rank amateur receiving the same treatment? Worse still are the blogs who actually sponsor these “enthusiast reporter” PR exercises, as they both promote the kind of “pimpatorialism” that helped bring down the buff books and (by promoting the “enthusiast reporters”) undermine the illusion of their own outsider status (where this is even possible).

So what’s the appropriate response to this rising tide of manufacturer-sponsored, reputation-free, “enthusiast reporters”? That’s ultimately a question for TTAC’s Best And Brightest to answer, along with the other auto media consumers who determine success and failure in this industry. My personal opinion is that the rise of “enthusiast reporters” was inevitable, and therefore somewhat pointless to judge on a moral or ethical basis. If anything, the real lesson of their emergence is that auto media consumers must, now more than ever, adapt to set aside the form of a given piece of media and focus on its content. Whether your read, watch or hear an opinion here at TTAC, another automotive blog, a “CARGUY4PR”-style Twitter or Youtube account, or at a long-established buff book, there’s no alternative to critical analysis. As for the car blogs, they still face the same choice that they (like the buff books before them) have always faced: credibility or death. No amount of automaker-sponsored “enthusiast reporters” will ever change that basic problem… if anything, it will help refocus blogs on substance rather than outsider posturing.

But enough about my opinion. For me, credibility has always been measured by the openness, genuineness and ferocity of debate that results from any given post, podcast or video. So let’s hear your thoughts…

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33 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Is The (New) Automotive Media Under Attack?...”


  • avatar
    twotone

    Separating journalism from advertising helps in producing “unbiased” reporting and reviews in any industry.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    As a commenter, I know just enough to be dangerous, so I don’t quite know what to say to this except keep doing what TTAC does best – not deliberately trashing or praising any particular car or automaker – in spite of the emotion that may surface. Just be fair and objective. Hope that makes some sense.

  • avatar

    Automotive journalism is dead. Long live automotive journalism.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Automotive journalism is dead. Long live automotive journalism.

      Journalism is dead, long live journalism.

      There fixed it for ya. 

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      The auto industry has recovered.  Mullaly–yes, I’m one of his “minions” (your words)–earned $25M in 2010.  Auto journalism, at least in Detroit, lives on.
       
      [These opinions are my own. They do not represent those of my OEM employer in Dearborn.]

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming

      Automotive journalism never existed.  It was always thinly veiled p.r.  That’s a big reason why the US auto industry has had such dramatic booms and busts — there’s never been much in the way of accountability.  That’s also significantly true in the automotive history books.
       
      There are, of course, exceptions to this rule.  Farago was as good of a crusading journalist as we’ve seen in the last decade but I suspect that his impact was heightened because he only selectively critiqued the industry.  If he had been a lefty instead of a staunch conservative TTAC would have been marginalized to a much greater degree than it was by the industry p.r. machine and the established automotive press.

  • avatar

    I like it. Maybe the OEM’s will start making press days more interesting instead of “hustle here, hustle there, grab all the press releases and free schwag you can!”
    Never would I have believed that there are automotive journalists that don’t own cars. But I’ve met some of them. It is mind boggling. And it’s not just in print.
    I say spread the love. Open up the good ol’ boys club to some outsiders. There’s no reason to be threatened by these people. Hell, some of them might even offer a different perspective. It will be easy to weed these out from the peppy-ultra-positive reviews that have no substance.
    It’s also probably more cost effective, depending on who you’re reaching out to. The right Twitter account can reach 50,000 ears in minutes. Not even established outlets, online or off, can have that kind of immediate gratification for the cost of a few plane tickets and hotel rooms.

    • 0 avatar

      Chris,
       
      The former editor of the Chinese edition of Automotive News told me that she hated cars and the auto industry and that she took the job as a career move because she wanted to write about business. A professional writer should be able to write about a variety of topics. I don’t particularly like hip-hop but if I had to do an article about hip hop stars and their cars, I’d do a good job.
       
      As for social media, only a small number of people have a Twitter account followed by 50,000 or more people. Trying to manipulate social media, trying to consciously germinate something that goes viral on the web seems to me to be the kind of fool’s errand as are most attempts to get a handle on the youth market.
       
      Actually, I think it’s a bit ironic that a Gawker site like Jalopnik would have an article critical of car companies’ attempts to manipulate social media. Gawker’s business model for its websites is driven by a zeal to find articles that Tweet well. It’s all about the buzz. Fortunately the management here at TTAC understands that while brevity is the soul of wit, it’s hard to do serious analysis or comment in 140 characters or less.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re right that not everybody has a Twitter account that reaches 50,000 phones. But there are def “nobodies” who have very active Twitter accounts and OEM manufacturers love these people because they’re so excited about being on “the inside.”
      But the other thing about these Tweeters is that, like many in auto journalism, they don’t like or even own cars. Generation Y would rather have the latest smartphone than the newest Mustang. So even if they are generating some positive publicity for the automaker, the people they’re reaching are likely like them, and how many of those people run out and buy these cars? Probably few to none.
      Why? Well one thing, my generation is broke. We don’t have $20,000 for a car, we don’t want to take a loan, and many of us live in a city where we keep driving to a minimum. These days, the only people who care about cars are;
      A) enthusiasts
      B) green car guys
      C) auto journos
      But like you said, they want to capture the youth market. Kids aren’t reading magazines, or even “buff books” like TTAC. They don’t read your car reviews, they don’t keep up to date on the latest cars (a friend of mine couldn’t believe they’re still making the Ford Focus, nevermind making a brand new one.)
      Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, etc) is the ONLY way to reach a crowd with a short attention span more concerned with Kim Kardashian than cars.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Too many professional automotive journalists (both print and on blogs) seem way more interested in self-promotion than the industry and products they are supposed to be covering.  You don’t get that so much with the amateurs.
     
    It is also occasionally nice to hear automotive opinions from someone that doesn’t own a BMW, Porsche, WRX, or 1970 Charger.
     
    One of the best series TTAC ever published was Darwin Hatheway’s How GM Tried to Win me Over, and I think you could classify him as an “Enthusiast Reporter”.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    I suspect that, for the automakers, the appeal of the smallblog/youtube/twitter pipeline is how easily they can astroturf it. The auto co’s, assisted by suppliers, agents and other interested parties, will get networks of shills in place, then cross-link them to provide critical mass. Next step is to arrange for these false-front communicators to be “discovered” by radio, TV, and the print media. “Our guest today is Cathy Star, the hip young auto impresario who is making waves in the car biz!” Bold, independent Cathy’s rise will be meteoric as she tweets & ‘tubes her opinion-shaping way across the the industry while auto execs claim to be blown away by the insights and sass of this surprising wunderkind.

    The original model of this style of fakery might by Ana Marie Cox. About 10 years ago, a sharper named Nick Denton set up a series of apparently independent blogs called Fleshbot, Defamer, Gawker, and Wonkette. Cox was the public face at Wonkette, until it was revealed that much of the time she didn’t even write her own stuff. Interns did that, while Cox was busy being pimped by buzzmakers like The Village Voice and landing a $250k book deal. Natch, the similarities between the four blogs was strong because they all came from the same cubicle-dwellers.
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_blog
     

    • 0 avatar
      thirty-three

      This is why disclosure is so important.  If the manufacturer covers your travel expenses, you must say so.  That way we readers can judge how credible you are.  I have no problem with the writers at TTAC accepting perks because they are credible – they are not going to be swayed by such gifts.  They also disclose what they get.  Does anybody else do this?  I don’t see it very often.

    • 0 avatar

      33,
      Jalopnik and Autoblog both disclose.

  • avatar
    anchke

    Well, of course you’re under attack, just like the rest of traditional journalism. Cyber marketing is devilishly clever, anyone who can type can (mis)lead the masses, and its all done in a spirit of fun, hipster chic and manufactured excitement. You know how other print reporters make fun of staid old CR and cars-as-appliances? But CR has a brand, a POV it owns up to and knows why readers pick it up. Traditonal automotive journalism is more impressionistic, mostly out of touch with the automotive marketplace, overly fond of supercars, scornful of the schlub who needs a car to haul his family and prone to wise guy posing. Forget about objectivity, since CR has that brand wrapped up and car-appeal is partially irrational. Decide what your brand is, what’s in it for your readers and how you can strenghten it. Y’all are smart fellas. You can do this.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Traditonal automotive journalism is more impressionistic, mostly out of touch with the automotive marketplace, overly fond of supercars, scornful of the schlub who needs a car to haul his family and prone to wise guy posing.
       
      I believe the word you’re hunting for is “marketing.” See, the job of all these writers is to make you look at advertising. Period. If you believe there is another purpose… well, in at least one sense the marketing drones have already won.

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    The dean of the “Old” automotive media is John McElroy. So strange that TTAC would quote contributer Jack Baruth in criticism of the old automotive media and Ed’s statement that the New automotive media is “under attack.”

    • 0 avatar

      TR,
      As I see it there are four groups in today’s automotive media. There are those with industry ties like Automotive News, John McElroy (I’m not nearly as critical of John as some of the B&B are, but then John’s a Detroit radio institution, like Ernie Harwell, Bud Guest and J.P. McCarthy, aural comfort food) and WWJ’s Jeff Gilbert. Then there are the buff books. Web sites like TTAC, Jalopnik and Autoblog have supplanted the buff books. Then there are the enthusiast “reporters”, the tweeters and social mediators that the cars companies are trying to stroke and to schmooze.
       
      Ultimately it’s about delivering content that readers find valuable.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    If you’re asking questions about your relevancy– you’re already irrelevant.

  • avatar
    flatout05

    Ed, you must be aware of the silliness – or, at the very least, appearance of silliness – of your argument. The old media could not be trusted, you are essentially saying. So we sprang up. And we are noble heroes who can be trusted. Now there’s a newer crowd than us. And they cannot be trusted.

    You appear to have slipped into precisely the guild mentality that pervaded (and pervades) old media. And TTAC has always rightly mocked this mentality. The giveaway is when you darkly describe these new competitors as “dangerous.” Please. They may be a danger to you. They’re no danger to me.

    Interestingly, though your argument becomes very muddy near the end, you wrap up with a strong statement that essentially answers your own question. What’s a TTAC to do? Why, keep doing what you do, of course. Let the market decide who wins and who loses. Trust the intelligence of readers. And keep in mind that this new crowd will produce its own small crop of Jack Baruth-type stars.
     

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Beautiful summary in that first paragraph you’ve written.

    • 0 avatar

      The old media could not be trusted, you are essentially saying. So we sprang up. And we are noble heroes who can be trusted. Now there’s a newer crowd than us. And they cannot be trusted.

      Actually, that’s not what I’m trying to say. I realize this piece reads like an op-ed, but I was simply trying to unwrap what I see as the underlying causes of this new media churn. Generally speaking, I would rather understand a thing than make a moral judgment about it, and this is no exception.

      I do write that “enthusiast reporters” are “dangerous” to blogs, but only in a limited sense (they’re the new ultimate outsiders). At the end of the day, blogs will have to react to this the same way the magazines are reacting to the web (a dynamic that, in my opinion, has actually made the genereal quality of automotive writing improve over recent years). I certainly don’t think TTAC has anything to lose from the rise of paid “enthusiast reporters” any more than we would be threatened by a resurgence of buff-book pimpatorials… it’s imagining a day when the industry stops trying to manipulate information and conversations about cars that wakes me in the night with a cold sweat.

      Until that day, TTAC has always tried to earn our keep one day at a time. We are lucky enough to have an incredibly talented team of writers here who I believe in deeply, and as long as that’s the case and as long as you all actually demand the level of content that we strive to provide here, things will work out just fine.

      And with that, I have some writing to do…
       

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    gawd, I hate the buisness-as-usual ‘solution’ to a problem.
    If there is a concern about the OEM’s back-dooring the blogosphere, then go with it. There are a number of bloggers out there who datamine other sources and considate the information on one page. That incredible tool, Matt Drudge, is the bench mark of this style. Want to fight back? Start a new column where you track blogger reviews for each new car or media event. After a while, you should be able to track and post trends for each blogger. I’m sure OEM sponsored bloggers’ bias will show up. Act as a check and blance to the trend and work with its growth instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. Become the place where people go to fact-check bloggers. Kinda like the Snopes of cars. You guys love industry numbers, this course of action should have been obvious.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    I used to enjoy the wild, wild west “anything goes” image embargo breaking media that used to exist two years ago. Autoblognik used to dump images way before the buff books did, now it’s the buff books that are  breaking embarbos on their own blogs. Full circle.
     
    With the advent of the utter abomination known as Jalopnik 5.0, I started looking for somewhere else to peruse and I found myself at the websites of buff books and guess what? They’ve pretty much mimicked what the “new media” has done, including their own blogs, polls and threads of the day etc. The commenting isn’t very good yet, but it’s pretty new and I’m sure it’ll get better as other new media outlets get worse.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Say what you want kids. Think what you want kids. Those of us who have been reading car magazines and newspaper reviews of cars, along with blogs and such, can tell you these things:
    - There is no such thing as “automotive journalism.” Unless you’re an executive, who came up from engineering, who decided that working the line stunk and went to college, … well, you got no idea what the heck you’re talking about. Get over it.
    - Everything you see, all the material presented to you is created merely to be presented to you and your colleagues to generate a favorable impression. It is tweaked. It is fluffed. It is buffed. If you are young, you do not have the depth of experiences to recognize this.
    - Remember a couple of weeks ago how that guy at the Detroit paper got the heave-ho after writing a review that stated unfavorable stuff about a car? Remember how a dealer got mad and called for his head? This isn’t news. Do you have any idea how many times that has happened over the years? Back in the 1970s and 80s, when many bloggers weren’t even born, all kinds of newspapers across the country had people who wrote about cars working in the newsroom. That exact same scenario played out HUNDREDS of times. It happened at the paper where I worked, and at our cross-town rival. It happened so often that newspapers began paying for syndicated “reviews” to wrap advertising around, rather than an “review” that a reporter or editor wrote for use of a free car for a week. In other words, it was less hassle for a features editor to fight internally for a few bucks for syndication money, than to field another phone call from the local car dealer because a writer wrote that he or she didn’t like the color of a car. It WAS that bad. Then newspapers shrank. And shrank. And shrank some more.
    - Auto manufacturers have been performing end runs around the media for YEARS. Sometimes it’s as simple as product placement (AMC cars in the James Bond film “Live & Let Die”) or its as peculiar as American Motors’ last ditch marketing campaign to get college graduates to buy the Renault Encore. Tweets, mommyblogs, Facebook fans, are only their adaptations to faster growing media. Why do you think they finally started letting TTAC stringers write reviews? Because, they know that overall, only anoraks like myself read them.
    - The reality is, the internet is becoming less and less of a “readers’ medium,” and more of a “glancers’ medium.” The blogosphere is rapidly being left behind, as much as tree-based media. Products and services are sold by “sizzle,” and it doesn’t take much time to convey sizzle, although it’s more difficult to create.
    Point being, blogs are already going the way of radio and newspaper content…fewer eyes and ears paying attention while still being connected to brains. Journalism is dead. Automotive journalism never existed.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      +1. Couldn’t agree more. Well said.

      From my personal point-of-view, I find most road tests not particularly informative, even those here on TTAC which are “enthusiast” driven. As you say, when you get a complete naif writing, the alarm bells go off in about two seconds for me. Same kind of situation has occurred to me at many parties, when you overhear people discussing a subject you are very familiar with, and yet they are talking utter rubbish to each other and agreeing.

      Such is the state of knowledge of the general populace on any subject, since there is no reason to believe that if they’re out of it on something you know about, their other opinions will be similarly worthless. A point I continually make to CBC Radio because of the twits they often choose to use as experts — if you can’t get an automotive story correct, why should I believe all the other stuff you broadcast that I don’t know much about?

      Unfortunately, I am coming to the conclusion that things have always been this way, as few people are enthusiasts and old wives’ tales are taken for granted as the truth.

      So the car companies can tweet to their hearts content. Texting and tweeting seems to be a disease that affects people to the extent they exhibit incredible attention deficit behaviors, even in the lineup at a deli.

      Not part of my view of the world.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    From the consumer’s perspective, what you’re arguing for is critical reading skills.  For any kind of review, the reader faces a paradox:  the reviewer can be an enthusiast, which means that he/she is knowledgeable about the subject (whether it’s cars, movies, drama, restaurants) which also brings the risks of both unconscious biases/prejudices and being co-opted; or the reviewer can be a naif who is easily swayed by unimportant stuff, lacks judgment, etc.
    I think experience shows that, in the long run, the enthusiast is the more successful model.  It’s rare that an enthusiast review is a complete waste of time; it’s common that a naif review is.
    And finally, there is the risk of a “Baruthian” reviewer — that is a guy whose focus is on a turn of phrase, a conceit, a literary persona.  The upside of these reviews is that, done well, they’re never a waste of time, even if the car being reviewed is almost beside the point.  The downside, is that the unskilled author can get carried away, as Mr. Burgess’ recent encounter with the Chrysler 200 illustrates.
    I don’t know if I’m a typical reader or not, but for me, the reviewer is a surrogate for me.  So, if my reaction to a vehicle in a review is basically the same as the reviewer’s (allowing for any discontinuities between his/her priorities and mine), then I will read that reviewer.  If my reaction is different . . . then fuggedaboutit.  To illustrate, I recently read a review of the ’09 Chrysler 300 by the famous Mr. Burgess.  Not a mention of the slabs of rock hard plastic adorning the doors and the dashboard of this vehicle.  I happened to have rented, not the base model, but a “Touring” model of same a couple of weekends ago.  In many ways, I found it a nice car, but the hard plastics struck me in the same way that a model picking her nose on the runway at a fashion show would strike me — inexcusably gross.  So, his scathing review of the 200 notwithstanding, I have to conclude that Mr. Burgess is either a dolt or just selectively blind.  A pretty common “nice” reviewer’s technique is to praise a car’s virtues and simply omit its vices.
    Regarding your expressed fear of mommybloggers and other amateurs: I wouldn’t sweat it.  A reader of any discernment is going to sniff out a naif and give him/her the respect he/she deserves.  And the real naifs are the car company flacks that believe this kind of an effort will succeed.
    I believe in the concept of different cars for different tastes, and I think the people who build them should stand up and defend what they built.  So, for example, if an “enthusiast” reviewer complains about a Lexus being a “numb” drive, the Lexus people should be forthright and simply say: “our vision of luxury is insulating the driver and occupants from the unpleasantness of the outside world; boy racers should look elsewhere . . . and, oh, by the way, compare the interior sound levels of a Lexus GS and an Infiniti M at 70 mph and get back to me.”

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    There was once a time not too long ago when there were a lot of new cars purchased that could not last longer than their payment books. 60 month auto loans went to cars considered trouble-free and capable of lasting 60 months which limited 60 month auto loans to Volvos and Mercedes.

    There was once a time when you bought a car every three years because you had to. A three year buying cycle meant that your car was new one year, you forgot about your car the next year, and then you are back considering a new car the next. That is a short enough cycle to keep many people in the hunt, creating a big market for auto journalism. Not anymore.

    During this global economic downturn, there are fewer buyers chasing more dependable cars. The issues in this kind of market are not performance related. Buyers in this market are not interested in how a Honda compares to a Toyota or a Ford because Honda buyers know their cars are going to do the jobs they buy them to do, regardless of what Toyota or Ford is selling. The same with Toyota and Ford buyers. During this global economic downturn, brand loyalties with the top makes, have become stronger. Buyers are more conservative. What they want to read about when they are in the car market is how well that car fits their lifestyle, not it’s 0-60 time.

    It is about lifestyle because these cars last long enough to remain in our lives long enough to effect our lifestyles. A ten year old car isn’t an impulse, it is another member of a family.

    So auto journalists have to become aware that cars are held by buyers long enough to be seen as a commitment lasting longer than many marriages. Consider car buying choices up there with home purchases. Would you sell a house based on how much larger the guest bathroom is verses another house across town? Would you consider buying a house based on how popular it is? What you guys have to do, in my opinion, is start recognizing that reporting on cars to buyers can take on similar attributes as if you were real estate agents.

    Lifestyle matters now.

    You spend a billion creating a new auto line up and you are target marketing it to fit bicoastal empty nesters with incomes over $220,000. You aren’t going to give a crap what some 33 year old auto journalist who loves tuned Civics thinks about this new auto line up. You want to get some bicoastal empty nesters with incomes over $220,000 to write up how awesome your new auto line up is, and get that stuff where your target market reads. Hence, the shift in auto journalistm.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Over $220,000 a year? Who and how many people make that kind of money? I must’ve missed the boat somewhere! I don’t think a Chrysler 200, for example, is targeted at that group, let alone an Impala.

    I prefer honest auto reviews about cars that slobs like me actually buy. I really don’t give a care how fast it goes, the dimensions of a panel gap, whether the seats are “mouse fur”, nor do I care about how many speakers the stereo has. I’ll parallel park myself, too, thank you very much. I care about the car as a whole and how it does its job and the totality, sum of its parts. For example my 2004 Impala. As a whole, I love it dearly. Is it the best car on the road? Probably not, but the whole package through observation, study and extended test drives – plus the fact that I no longer trusted Chrysler due to tranny and engine issues. I’m not a Ford man, per se, but they do have cars I would have to consider if I needed a car right now. I really wanted an Impala due to a long history of emotional attachment to the Impala legacy, having learned to drive in them, owned one, and I didn’t want a “foreign” car for my daily driver. In the years I have owned my car, I am not disappointed, either. Was I influenced by auto reviews? I looked at the CR reports and it was definitely a factor.

    To me, auto journalism is quite relevant – at least on cars I am actually interested in.

  • avatar
    tikki50

    Personally, and no offense to TTAC but I can’t wait for the Blogsphere to blow up on intself. The difference I see with true Journalism and new media bloggers is that Journalists do this because they love to, its well thought out. Bloggers just want the gravy train and in the end will trash talk anyone they can to better themselves. Which means less cred. for each blogger. You can see this clearly when they interact with the auto company. They become submissive to the parent company, why because they’re getting closer to the gravy train, and the output is real biased content. Have no fears, if your truely here for good journalism, you’ll stick around, those that are here for money and fame, well, it will be short lived like everything else on the net.

    I will say I think auto companies are just trying their hardest to tap into new markets, FB, etc. Which means talking to alot of people, handing out a lot of stuff, treating even the mommybloggers with due respect, because in the end, unfortunately they have just as loud of a voice as a buff book, and, they’re cheap too. I will say for the companies they should have a clear understanding of what each is and treat each with that level of respect. It’s all so new these companies are just trying to figure out what to do, and when they do, its too late, everything changed. ARGH.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The difference I see with true Journalism and new media bloggers is that Journalists do this because they love to, its well thought out…

      The problem is that huge swaths of the traditional media have lowered themselves to this level in an attempt to gain marketshare.  Your rationale about why, the goals, the results and such is spot-on, but the shrillness, the shouting, the gong-banging; it’s transcended any one medium.

      It’s also why traditional media is imploding.  This methodology gets you lots of viewers quickly, but it doesn’t breed lasting customers.  In fact, it does the opposite: it conditions customers to be fickle and to abandon you at a drop of a hat.  Blogs can sustain this because their operating and capital costs are low; print and broadcast cannot.

    • 0 avatar
      Chiburb

      psarhjinian, you’re the perfect (to me) example of a “good” journalist/reviewer:

      When I read your review of the ’09 4.6 Genesis I was impressed with what I perceived as “impartiality”. Not afraid to praise what Hyundai did right, honest in their shortcomings. In fact, your review was the tipping point for me and I got one. Was the finest car I’ve ever driven, by far.
      Always meant to thank you.

  • avatar
    Chiburb

    Naif or enthusiast? Whichever one agrees with me.


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