By on May 3, 2012

No sense beating around the bush on this one: TTAC won’t have a Dodge Dart review for you to read when the embargo expires later this week. We weren’t invited to the event. If you want to find out what it’s actually like to drive the Dart, you’ll have to read about it somewhere else. If you want an honest review, you will have to wait until I can rent one, I suppose.

Yesterday, Jalopnik’s Matt Hardigree teed-off on Chrysler for inviting sex blogger Jen Friel to the Dart release. Although Hardigree himself is embroiled in a long-term struggle with our own Derek Kriendler for the unofficial title of Most Interesting Young Auto Writer, a battle he cannot help but eventually lose, I heartily recommend that you check out Matt’s article when you have time, because it’s a fun read, and it’s straight out of the Jack Baruth Handbook For Dissing The Living Shit Out Of Hack Writers & The Auto Industry In General, Yo. When I read stuff like that, I feel the same way Madonna must while watching a Lady Gaga performance.

What Matt doesn’t realize, however — or doesn’t say, at any rate — is that Chrysler’s decision to effectively replace TTAC with Ms. Friel isn’t an anomaly. It’s the arrow-straight path to the future,and it is part of a bigger trend that affects everyone from your humble author to the New York Times. Here’s why.

I want to talk about the idea of efficient markets for a moment. Most Americans are brought up to equate “efficient” with “good” in this context. Sometimes, an efficient market is a good market. Imagine, if you will, an old frontier settlement with a single general store. The owner of that store effectively controlled what goods and services were available to the residents of that town, and he also effectively controlled the prices of those goods and services.

If the settlement expands and becomes a town, then a city, a second store will eventually arrive, and then a third. At that point, you have competition, which means that prices will drop. Good for the market, right? Of course. Let’s suppose, however, that the original general store had been so profitable that the owner had been able to sponsor the local Boy Scout troop. The arrival of additional stores, and the pricing competition that results, would eventually reduce his margin to the point where it would no longer be possible to sponsor the Scouts. At that point… poof! No more Boy Scouts, but everybody pays fifty cents less for soap. Is that good or bad? Depends on whether you’re a Scout or a bulk soap consumer, right?

Once upon a time, newspapers were like frontier general stores. They had effective monopolies, or something close to it. If you wanted to advertise, you had to do business with them. If you wanted to find out what the weather would be tomorrow, or how much your new neighbors paid for their house, you had to buy the product. Simple as that. Like aristocrats who felt their wealth imposed a noblesse oblige, most newspapers took the profits created by what we would today call “channel ownership” and spend some of them on giving you the vegetables. The vegetables, of course, are what’s good for you. Investigative reporting. Exposing the corrupt. Safeguarding the public. Printing the truth. And so on.

Make no mistake, though, “exposing the corrupt” never pays the bills at a newspaper. Printing classified ads and yesterday’s baseball box scores is what pays the bills. The idea is that you, the newspaper owner, owe the public something since you are profiting from your ability to distribute information to them. You charge them for red meat but you make sure there are vegetables on the plate. It’s that simple, and it’s what gave us everything from Woodward and Bernstein to Consumer Reports.

Automotive “journalism”, however, never got the memo about noblesse oblige Sure, every once in a while Patrick Bedard would put his foot up some kit car builder’s ass, and CAR magazine once ran an investigative series by Jamie Kitman about the dangers of leaded fuel, but by and large, autojournalism is all red meat, all the time, with as much salt and sugar as they can pile on. “New Camaro ZL1 Tells The Shelby To Step Outside!” “Ferrari 458: World’s Greatest Car?” “Top Sport Sedans Go Head To Head In Ibiza, Spain!”

When the Internet came along and access to information was truly democratized — when “citizen journalists” began reporting on CNN and the Arab Spring was covered on Twitter by the people doing the springing — the newspaper world took a monstrous hit. Why put a classified ad in the paper when you can put it on Craiglist? Why wait for tomorrow’s paper to get the box scores? They’re online now. Need a weather forecast? It’s on your iGoogle. All of a sudden, newspapers didn’t control the flow of information.

The major papers have fought back by attempting to raise the price of vegetables, putting investigative articles and real content behind paywalls. Whether that will work or not is anyone’s guess, but if it does work, it will be because the Times still has the knowledge, tools, and ability to do the kind of real journalism that the HuffPo can’t. Bloggers earning twenty-five bucks a pop to aggregate content from their basements can’t break Watergate, Travelgate, Iran-Contra, et cetera. Even an article like the one done by Frank Greve on the autojourno game itself requires too much time and effort to ever come from a traditional blog. Vegetables. Tough to grow, hard to swallow.

The car rags didn’t have any vegetables, with the possible exception of reliable instrumented testing, and that’s why they are disappearing. Motor Trend may be on its hands and knees sucking-off the Nissan GT-R right now, but Jalopnik can do it sooner, faster, and better, plus they can run an article about some drunk skank who ran into a tollbooth. It’s the Connery-in-The-Untouchables approach. They put a picture of a Ferrari on the cover? You put a picture of a crashed Ferrari on the website. They declare the Chevy Sonic to be the best car ever? You do the same, plus run a story on a guy driving an electric scooter on the freeway.

Now, let me show you Jack’s Foolproof Chart Of What Young Male Readers Like, from Least to Most:

Detailed reliability data
Sophisticated, knowledgeable automotive testing
Fun stories about stuff
Stories where something blows up
Pictures of cool stuff
Pictures of stuff blowing up
An article about girls doing slutty things
Mugshots of girls who have done slutty things
A girl talking about having the “back of her eyeballs” knocked out by some dude raw-doggin’ her in a hallway
A picture of the above
A video of the above
A video of the above, with two guys
A video of the above, with two guys and a dog
A video of the above, with two guys, a dog, and a tight-ass dubstep soundstrack

You get the idea, right? It’s always possible to increase viewership by moving farther down the list. Jalopnik is farther down the list than Car and Driver, but that doesn’t mean they get to cry “Hold!” at the Mugshots of girls who have done slutty things level. Somebody’s gonna take it farther.

Jen Friel takes it farther. She writes about getting fucked, for lack of a less direct description. By 103 guys on OK Cupid, by random “buddies”, whatever, whenever, she’s down. She’s not terribly attractive in the conventional sense, so she’s “approachable” and that plays even better with a lot of her audience than it would if she looked like a young Kim Basinger. She’s more interesting to young men than a Ferrari would be, even if that Ferrari is being driven into a toll booth at high speed. Her stuff isn’t great writing, and some of it doesn’t even rise about the level of functionally illiterate teen sexting, but that doesn’t matter.

Given the choice between inviting someone with years of experience owning and racing Mopars — namely, moi — and having someone attend who could put a brief advertorial for the Dart in-between stories of being eyeball-fucked and out-skanking strippers at a club, Chrysler followed the money. The future, if you will. What does that future contain? The Slut Event Horizon, where everything having to do with young and young-ish men will probably be sold using as much sex, violence, and spectacular imagery as possible. Face it: this is how Jalopnik beat the car rags, and it’s how they will eventually be dethroned. Plain and simple.

Those of us who are of a certain age will remember “Sam The Eagle” from “The Muppet Show”. Sam was very conscious of his dignity, and he was anxious to censor prurience, violence, and just plain silly behavior out of what was planned for each night’s show. Of course, he was always frustrated in this attempt. Once, in the middle of decrying nudity, he was informed that he was “naked under his feathers” and, after considering the issue, he ran off the set in shame. Let’s face it: once you’ve tried this, how can you complain when this is even more popular? Sam The Eagle wouldn’t understand, but I do.

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130 Comments on “Jen Friel, Sam The Eagle, TTAC’s Disinvitation To The Dodge Dart, And The Slut Event Horizon...”


  • avatar
    brettc

    Sex blogger is a thing that exists? That’s really unfortunate. It’s also unfortunate that you don’t get to review the Dart because of of the aforementioned sex blogger. I guess Chrysler is trying to appeal to douchey SpikeTV or TruTV viewers or something.

    I weep for the future.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      I agree entirely. I read a part of the Jalopnik article (the first time I’ve looked at their amateur/oddly thrown together craphole of a website in years, I might add and had the misfortune of not having their comments section load (to see what this moron had to say in response), so I went to her website. Oh my god, I wish I could get that five minutes back.

      The girl is an idiot who can’t find a decent paying day job, so she writes filth that other people for some gross reason read, thus helping her pay rent.

      Ugh.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “It’s also unfortunate that you don’t get to review the Dart because of of the aforementioned sex blogger.”

      I’m sure Jen Friel isn’t the reason. CHRYSLER invites who they want. Ms. Friel is just caught in the middle.

    • 0 avatar
      pharmer

      What you said, exactly.

      What an idiot I was for going to (lots of) school, working hard, and getting a job that pays me for producing knowledge and products with value to other people! I should have just gotten on Twitter, started a blog, and talked about my d*ck all day. That, apparently, is what passes for a job and a “brand” these days and believe me, I’m good at it.

      If what this girl does is seen as something valuable we are beyond screwed as a society…but we already knew that, didn’t we? Ride the wave down, boys. Enjoy the decline.

      I’m ashamed that I now know who this woman is, and that I went to her site to read the postings linked from Jalopnik.

      I’m REALLY ashamed for her male followers. Here’s a hint guys – go out tonight, go to a ball game or head to you favorite bar, and find a nice girl to talk with. You’ll be amazed at how enjoyable real human interaction is.

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      Chrysler could not have told the world more clearly that the Dart is a total piece of s**. If they had a decent car, they could have invited real journalists.

      • 0 avatar
        jimboy

        NO, what Chrysler did was to weed out the wheat from the chaff, (sorry Jack, I like your stuff). Most of the internet bloggers, not reporters, are too lazy to do ANY of their own research or come up with an original opinion of their own. Why the hell shouldn’t you rent a Dart for a test drive? That way you wouldn’t get a specially prepped vehicle, but one off the line. I have never understood why any car manufacturer has to junket a bunch of lowlifes to a press preview. It’s your Damned job, just do it like everyone else on the planet, hard work and sweat equity. What a bunch of spoiled whiners you people are.

      • 0 avatar
        Robbie

        TTAC is pretty established and provides objective journalism. It is the custom of the car industry to invite journalists. By its current choice of journalists to invite, Chrysler is screaming at the world: “We have a very crappy car here, that will *never* stand up to objective scrutiny.” That is a shame, as I had some hopes that Fiat could have pulled something off here.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    That was another great read, Jack. Thanks.

  • avatar
    morbo

    Next week on “Ow! My Balls!”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiocracy

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    You’ve almost got to feel for all the traditional auto writers that have been proving their proclivity to prostitute themselves for the car manufacturers in recent years. Each one of these whores gets up and pretends that they haven’t learned a thing about cars in their lives in order to write ad quality copy about garbage from long-time garbage merchants with no thought of lost dignity or responsibility to their readers only to be shown the door when more attractive and kinkier hookers show up. It’s a hard knock life.

    • 0 avatar
      Brad2971

      Yep, these auto writers are learning the same thing sports writers learned when one Jenn Sterger graced the pages of Sports Illustrated. One hopes these auto writers will hang on long enough until Jen Friel gets to the same point of lack of interest that Jenn Sterger got to.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        Every Jack, Joe or Jim has got some kind of you-tube videos on reviewing new cars, some of them are really pathetic and don’t even know what to look for or what is important to the prospective buyer, even Forbes puts out list which seem to go against most reviews done by professionals, like naming the new Yaris one of the most improved new cars this model year.

  • avatar
    rentonben

    About the only way to counter the “slut event horizon” in new-world of low advertising revenue is to take advantage of nice people who want to say something. And don’t pay them (much).

    When they burn out because they need to eat, find some new nice people who want to say something.

    I’d be curious if TTAC works this way.

  • avatar
    dts187

    Things we will learn from her review:

    The upholstery’s resistance to stains
    Rear seat spaciousness and quality of grab handles
    Quality of iPhone and Craigslist Casual Encounters integration
    Sharp edges and chafe points in the interior
    And possibly 0-60 acceleration

    • 0 avatar
      dts187

      Maybe I pal around with classier folks but most people with limited car knowledge I know don’t go to two-bit youtube and twitter slagathors for advice on their next major purchase. They do a little research on their own and consult their more knowledgeable friends.

      The fact that Chrysler thinks this Slag is going to generate a “social buzz” about the Dart amongst my age group leaves me disappointed in the way us young folks are generalized.

      DK has touched on this multiple times and it’s really simple. We’re not going to buy a car because it’s hip, because it has a celebrity in the commercial, nor because some incredulous type on the internet was paid to recommend it. For the most part we’re much more savvy than that. If you want to sell us a car you don’t have to pull any marketing tricks. All you have to do is just build a reliable, stylish, and affordable car that looks like it costs more than it does. Take the money you save from marketing and put it towards R&D.

      • 0 avatar
        Botswana

        It does say something about Dodge’s rather cynical outlook on Generation Y. Pretty insulting really.

      • 0 avatar

        Even though I am without a doubt the voice of Generation Y in all matters cultural, Dodge didn’t see fit to invite me. They must not have room for my massive head…

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        I think their goal is simply to get their target audience to know that the Dodge Dart exists with a more positive reference than as Al Bundy’s car in “Married… with Children” reruns. Too bad they never asked how much people would pay for an Alfa Romeo Giulietta vs. a Dodge Dart. A slut introducing a car with a sexy name like “Alfa Romeo Giulietta” would have been more entertaining.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        If I were in the market for a compact (love my 2012 Focus) and were looking at the Dart (which I most certainly would give a look at, considering how nice it looks) I’d send a nicely worded letter to Dodge HQ letting them know how THIS is the very reason I wouldn’t and won’t be buying their Dart.

        This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard all day.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        @tuffjuff

        “…THIS is the very reason I wouldn’t and won’t be buying their Dart.”

        Dontcha think that might be going just a bit overboard? Let me understand…you don’t like the fact that Jen Friel has been invited to review this car. Because of THAT, regardless of how good the car might be FOR YOU, you won’t even consider it?

        “This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard all day.”

        Not really. I’ve heard something just as if not more stupider (if I could only remember where).
        .

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Every generation likes to think they are smarter than the preceding generations and can’t be marketed to because they are too savvy. They are always wrong and the marketers just have to make their marketing fool you into thinking you are buying a product because you want to and not because they want you to. Every nut can be cracked, it’s just a matter of figuring out how much force to apply and where to apply it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lynchenstein

      …0-69 acceleration?

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        @Derek

        “the voice of Generation Y”

        At the very least, you’re *a* voice of *a* generation.

        (Baruth started it with the “Girls” references, so blame him.)

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I fail to see why anything related to new car intros is considered actual journalism in the first place. I read car magazines to be entertained, I can form my own opinions of the cars, Lord knows I drive enough of them every year.

    Jack’s constant grousing on this topic starts to seem like sour grapes after a while. All the other kids got invited to the cool party, but I didn’t but I don’t care because I am too cool to go anyway.

  • avatar
    jtk

    Sam the Eagle reference = best article I’ve read today.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    HBO passed on the original series “Ferraris” and went with “Girls” instead. They probably made the right choice.

  • avatar
    dwford

    So TTAC needs it’s own resident slut. Get on it!

  • avatar
    jgustafson21

    I agree with a lot of your points Jack, but as a car guy first and a “lifestyle blogger” second, I’d like to weigh in here. Like you said, car companies reaching out to different outlets can have a negative impact on the industry as a whole. Unfortunately, no one wants to sit down and read an article, or even watch a video. They just want pictures and a blurb. As a member of Gen-Y, and someone who has to cater articles to them, it’s not enjoyable to throw details out the window to cater to an audience that can’t sit still. This hurts everyone since truly great cars can’t rise to the top as coverage gets drowned out by a wave of tweets, likes, and noise for all the fluff that doesn’t make good cars. But the industry is changing, and outlets must adapt.

    Derek has shown, “kids these days” don’t care about cars. It’s the automakers job to find their audience, and if they aren’t going to car websites, then they must go to new outlets. Not long ago, car blogs were in the same boat as these new writers too. So to see so much criticism for bringing new writers into the fold is a bit hypocritical. Plus, just because it is a different outlet, doesn’t mean it has to be all smut and sex, nor an advertorial. Personally, I think the industry is bound to contract as companies start to ask for real metrics as to what the return is on this type of coverage. Clicks do not equal sales.

    Bringing new, quality viewpoints and perspectives into the fold is a good thing to keep cars on the radar of people who otherwise might be uninterested. Additionally, people may see these pieces and the spark might be internally lit to learn more about autos from car only outlets. In the end, everyone will win if quality content is a top priority, regardless of the viewpoint. Is this a good example of that? No, but I do not believe it is a representative example either.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    The fact that someone who is essentially a w h o r e with a webcam qualifies as “journalism” is more troubling than anything else.

    Brilliant article Jack.

  • avatar
    MeaCulpa

    “Nobody has ever lost money by under estimating people” might still hold true? I like this one but in general I’m not fond of blogs. They all seems to eventually cater to the lowest common denominator. I Used to read Jalopnik with almost religious zeal, not due to the editorial content but rather due to the comments from the readers, they where interesting, insightful and fun. At some point however they introduced some lame star rating system and the comments became mostly “jokes”, ’cause that seemed to earn you the star the fastest. The sites readers catered to their co-readers lowest common denominator and the interesting comments drowned in an ocean of oneliners and song lyrics.

    The Sex thing is just sad, IMO, I am by no stretch of the imagination a prude, but I do believe that there’s a place and time for everything, I get pissed when they film “hot” (aka skanky) girls in the bleachers when i try to watch sports, I get annoyed when I go to a car show and there’s scantly clad women foundling the cars. As a man i find it slightly insulting that everything must be sold with sex, if I wanted to look at boobs, and i do, there is no lack of sites that provides me with nothing but boobs.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    This is why consumers should be made aware of who is doing new car reviews, under what circumstances, and with what incentives, as it’s clear that the future of “new car reviews” will be all about misinformation and marketing, and nothing about objectivity.

    And this is also why I still maintain that Consumer Reports, which not only takes its reliability data from hundreds of thousands of owner provided surveys, and which anonymously buys the new cars it reviews at retail prices from various dealerships, which are then driven back to its testing facility to be analyzed with no manufacturer reps or input tainting the review, is still the best formula for consumers desiring the most objective review.

    The niche for TTAC will be that while not a financially well-armed machine like Consumer Reports, their bloggers have reviewed vehicles from an objective, almost disenfranchised (due to being black-balled by the automotive manufacturers) perspective, so there’s far less risk that “warts and all” won’t be extensively discussed in the review of any vehicle.

    …to monetize it and how will be the business model question that has to be worked out.

    People who subscribe to Consumer Reports provide them with that financial war chest to make those anonymous retail purchases and to build and maintain a testing facility, because they desire objectivity on performance and reliability that much, in a sea full of manufacturer-driven hype and misinformation in the main stream automotive press.

    It’s time for the TTACs of the world to gain leverage by having those seeking objective information, free of manufacturers’ claims and interference, monetize (this can be done directly or indirectly; i.e. the selling of ads to aftermarket equipment suppliers/makers, etc.), monetize their efforts.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      Consumer Reports can also be gamed, all it takes is a few fake subscriptions to file the appropriate car trouble report at the right time.. probably would be an effective use of the marketing budget.

      • 0 avatar
        nrcote

        > Consumer Reports can also be gamed?

        I wouldn’t bet on it. It would take more that a few fake subscriptions, more like a few thousand. And even then, when they’ll see that you can’t stop writing the same thing overall, something like your brand new Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra, whatever isn’t as good, as fast, as nice as your Chevette Scooter 1979, they’ll have a chuckle and delete all your answers.

        Still, they will gladly accept your paid subscriptions nonetheless.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        a 1000 reports of issues with a Camry would probably throw the results.. a subscription would buy you a chance to hit on four competing cars and the cost would only be $300k per year, the rest of the time they can post crap to web forums or answer the consumer support line. Assuming the subscribers are even actual people and not just a line of code in some program.

  • avatar
    david42

    Ugh. The downfall of Western civilization.

    Some historian-types think that the US is on a pendulum of prurience, swinging back and forth every few decades. But I think the internet may have broken it.

    Anyway, I will keep submitting my data to TrueDelta. (I wonder if Michael would have more success if he replaced his reliability points with boobies.)

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    Matt’s article was astonishingly petty and the comments following it reminded me why I don’t go to Jalopnik anymore. “Internet Autojournalist Butthurt About Not Getting Invited To A Press Event” is not what I usually enjoy reading. Please don’t do it here, too.

    • 0 avatar
      LeadHead

      I’m going to have to agree.

      I like Jack, but every time some other website or “auto-journalist” gets invited to a press-event while he/TTAC doesn’t – he immediately fires off one of these huge profanity laced rants.

      They always mention other mags taking excessive expensive trips to review cars, how poor the driving/reviews of those mags are, take immature cheap-shots at the people behind those magazines, mention something here and there about journalistic integrity, and just the same old stuff over and over again.

      Now don’t get me wrong Jack. I like your articles about cars, but these articles are getting old, tiresome and just wreak of envy.

      Also, for what it’s worth, Hardigree claims Jalopnik was invited to the Dart press event, but they couldn’t be bothered to waste 3 days of staff time to you know, actually write a real car review.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I would presume that she ended up on the Dart invite list because of her past involvement in the Ford Fiesta promotion campaign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX4uRwlqeQY

  • avatar
    Slab

    The world seems so naive pre-internet. The car mags were like car porn, and I’ll admit that I’ve been a subscriber. It was fun to ogle at the shiny curves, and read about aggressive acceleration and taut handling. But when it came to real car buying advice, I had to rely on Consumer Reports to tell me what cars were intelligently designed, safe and reliable.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    They’re called Spank Mags for a reason. I suppose readers of sites like this matter to car makers to the extent we talk to normal people about cars. Who are Jen’s readers anyway? I never heard of her.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Now that’s a good article. From a ‘kids these days’ perspective which I happen to share.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It’s lame that Chrysler didn’t invite TTAC.

    However, it isn’t like TTAC is above writing about sexual trists (albeit with some style) or posting a provocative lead-in photo. And it isn’t like the B&B don’t eat that stuff up.

  • avatar
    Volts On Fire

    A quick look at her blog shows that she is extremely familiar and comfortable with her position in the photo.

    Funny thing is, I don’t think she’d consider that an insult.

  • avatar
    james2k

    “The Slut Event Horizon” Insert clapping .gif here. Bravo. Brilliant article.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Or maybe the best way to get good press about a 3,200+ lbs compact car is to keep auto journalists away from it?

    All commercial news content is designed to entertain first and inform as a distant second. From cable news “Obitutaiment” (A Jon Stewart term) of giving a weeks airtime to the coverage to celebrity deaths to the synthetic outrage of the network’s partisan hacks – this stuff is pure entertainment. Why would the auto press be any different?

  • avatar

    Good piece.

    Enjoyed reading up until the list.

    -At which I rofld.
    perhaps it was the prior context you set that made the term “raw doggin’” so viz/viz hilarious I had to visit the loo; -quickly.

    And then in the Ps after that, I despaired,

    watched her vid,

    and then summarily deleted all my online dating profiles.

    .
    Shi**y-dance-club-HC/DB-woo-girl miasma or no, I think it’s back to Agoraphobia for me if there are chicks like this bestial atrocity in the dating pool…

    -yup, locking all doors and windows as we speak. Thank God for CNBC and internet stock trading.

    …’I wanna stay inside for good.’

    .
    Footer: Methinks the only thing Genuinely nerdy about this wretch is her glasses; she seems as much a hollowman as Olivia Munn;

    -along w/ everything that Stheno-nian name packs in its baggage.

    .
    Footer 2: I shudder to think the outrage of intemperance you outline here might be one of the trends Vedder implied when he said, “It’s Evolution, Baby.”

    I hope not.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Funny, i read a review of the Dart on Car & Driver online yesterday. They liked the car. The “backfires” got a little crazy with a couple a-holes completely taking the review off tract.

    Me – I’d wait till the car is actually out in the showrooms and then give it a good look. Then, wait for that ZF 9 speed!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    This is like when a new movie is about to be released and it sucks big time, the studio usually doesn’t let the critics see it before it opens.

  • avatar
    70Cougar

    I’m old, yet Jack’s Foolproof Chart Of What Young Male Readers Like holds true until somewhere around “with two guys,” but, with age comes self control, so most of my internet time wasting is spent on TTAC.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Jen seems like she is one bad date away from a venereal disease or unwanted pregnancy. Not particularly bright nor necessarily a good catch for anyone, as she gets older she will discover her “buddies” prefer them a little younger and less experienced.

    What she does for selling Dodge Darts is anyone’s guess. I suppose FIAT thinks airheads with overactive hormones and no scruples are an untapped market.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Wow, you have a lot higher opinion of the MSM than I do. I think, alas, the late Michael Crichton was right when he opined that if the news business didn’t know anything about the stuff he was quite knowledgeable about, why should he trust them on anything else? If Dodge wants to spend their money on advertising via a sex-blogger, I guess we can say they are finally getting around the middle-man/woman (oh, a pun?), or have removed the whole question about price….

    As an old time retailer, I can suggest the death of newspapers and the yellow pages with their exorbitant advertsing rates are not missed at all.

    • 0 avatar

      Crichton was summarizing the Feynman Unreliability Principle. Richard Feynman noticed that whenever he’d read about physics in the newspaper, they’d get it wrong, then he’d turn the page and forget how unreliable journalists can be.

      I try to avoid it, but because I don’t have time to track down every little factoid, I make factual errors. In addition, after doing some research and talking to primary sources, I’ve found out that the written record is only part of the story, Rashomon style. One person gets interviewed or writes their memoirs and that gets picked up as the narrative.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    That’s cool. It ensures that Dart occupies that special place in the automotive history shared with such turds driven by utter morons as Dodge Colt and Pontiac LeMans.

    Kind of sad that this is happening to an Alfa platform but if that’s what Fiat wants, that’s what Fiat will get.

  • avatar
    LeadHead

    As far as Chrysler sending this girl to the press-event, I say it’s probably them trying to experiment with different ways of connecting to a new generation buyers. The new Civic and Jetta were absolutely trashed in reviews – but are still selling decently. Many people simply don’t read real car reviews anymore. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of or seen one of my non-gearhead friends ever read a proper car review before buying one. They always used word-of-mouth.

    Whether it will actually work or not, I don’t know. That’s probably what Chrysler is trying to find out.

    Also not sure what you mean about the Dart embargo ending later this week – it was gone Sunday night.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I’m sorry that you won’t get to test the new Dart. Your reviews are always readable and, from my very limited experience in comparing my reaction to a particular car and your review of it, spot on.

    That said, as you have emphasized many times traditional “auto journalism” was little more than a moderately well-disguised arm of the car makers’ promotion departments. After all, as you said, Donald E. Davis was an adman before he was a “car guy.”

    Seeing the writing on the wall, the car companies’ promo departments are no longer satisfied with the reach of the car mags. Internet websites (like this one: see the title) which don’t play the game are of no particular interest. So, the car companies are trying to recruit a new group of fanbois to promote their wares.

    So, that leaves us only with organizations who can get access to the cars without playing the game, like Consumer Reports.

    The other issue no discussed, is that for most people a car is an appliance. Need proof? Consider the current Honda Civic vs. the Ford Focus. Just about everyone in the car review biz raved about the Focus and said the Civic was underwhelming. What did the market say? Ford is putting money on the hood of the Focus; Honda is not putting money on the hood of the Civic. No question, the Focus is the better drive. But . . . lots of folks don’t like the “tunnel” front footwells (my wife observed that there was more side-to-side legroom in my Z3 than in the Focus), the back seat is kinda small and even with the hatch, when you drop the back seats there isn’t all that much room. And the Powershift DCT sucks (although the 5-speed manual is wonderful). The cherry on top is Honda’s reputation for consistent reliability, while Ford’s is inconsistent.

    As an aside. “Efficient markets” have nothing to do with the number of competitors. “Efficiency” has to do with “price discovery” and an easy exchange of information between buyer and seller (such that neither has an information advantage over the other).

    Newspapers were not always monopolies. Until the early 1970s, every major city had 2 or 3 competing dailies. Metro Washington DC had 3 until 1965 and was a fraction of its current size in population. I worked for the Houston Chronicle in the mid 1970s, and that city had two competing dailies. I would say there was a 20-year window between about 1975 and 1995 when newspapers did enjoy monopolies. After that, the Internet started eating away. TV news initially drove the trend towards monopolies, causing the death of the afternoon paper. An afternoon paper “went to bed” at noon, whereas the evening newscast would “go to bed” between 4:30 and 5:00. So, people weren’t interested in coming home to an evening newscast, when they could watch TV and get fresher material.

  • avatar
    darrinkaiser

    All I heard was average, approachable looking, sex blogger. So now I’m following her on twitter. Thanks for the info Jack.

    Wasn’t going to be buying Sergio’s Dart anyhow. Not ’til the 9 speed auto comes out anyhow. Just for novelty of saying it has 9 speeds.

    Now where did you say she stuffed that eagle? And is there a video of that?

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    reminds me of this article on slate from a week or two ago:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/doonan/2012/04/kim_kardashian_why_does_she_fascinate_us_we_used_to_revere_scientists_and_surgeons_.html

    Headline and byline are:

    Where Did All the Accomplished People Go?
    We used to revere scientists. Now we worship Kim Kardashian. Why?

    The sad part is that Chrysler thinks this is a better use of their marketing $. The saddest part is that they are probably right. As one of my (guy) friends says, we only have enough blood flow to think with one head at a time…

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Great article Jack.
    The more I think about it, the more ‘I’ as a potential buyer of new cars feel insulted by the marketing strategies employed by the likes of Ford and Chrysler. As a “Gen Yer”, I am appalled at the dumbing down of television, news, articles and reviews in order to appeal to my fellow “Gen Yer’s” who have the IQ of a ham sandwich, the attention span of a goldfish and who care only about their immediate needs for sugar coated, ‘lifestyle’ branded bollocks to fill their empty, vacuous lives.
    All in 140 characters on their latest new touch screen iConsume of course.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    People have sex in cars these days? Without drive inn theaters?

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    TTAC, hire Jen Friel as a stringer.

    Teach her what she needs to learn in order to make observations and gather data at these events, and how to provide the information to TTAC readers. Edit her work carefully.

    Problem solved.

    Perhaps she and Bertel can occupy some down-time between new car pressers by practicing some new rope tricks…..

    Seems like she’d be down…

    • 0 avatar

      Mark, the editing would take longer than just writing something from scratch. Most kids these days don’t know how to write. One problem with young writers is that they’ve never gotten a bad grade for their writing. Self-esteem has ruled in schools for a while. It’s been a long time since schools made kids memorize multiplication tables and diagram sentences. They don’t understand that, no, you shouldn’t normally start a sentence with a conjunction, or that Lotus’ does not mean more than one Lotus. They’re afraid of using commas, making it difficult to parse the meaning of their writing. Add the hey look at me I’m getting ready to go to the bathroom lack of boundaries in the socially networked world and I get the impression that the young writers who can actually write, like Kreindler and Hardigree, are rare.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark MacInnis

        Sorry, RS. Apparently, my sarcasm failed to come through.

        I kid because I care.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “One problem with young writers is that they’ve never gotten a bad grade for their writing. Self-esteem has ruled in schools for a while.”

        Not in the late 1990s when I was in high school. But then again, I went to high school in a state with a far better public school system than Michigan.

        But I do agree that Friel’s writing smacks of a person who barely completed middle school.

      • 0 avatar
        DubTee1480

        @Sam
        Ditto that here, my English teacher had no problem eviscerating students when they made a mistake. She was almost insulting and had a very sharp tongue.
        God I loved that woman :)

      • 0 avatar

        Ronnie, I really enjoyed your concise assessment of current written skills. The complete absence of adequate spelling, grammar and all other basic writing skills is a problem in all age groups here in Canada, so Jerry and I have added a ghost writer service to our business.
        We decided that the fatal flaws in the educational system should become less of an annoyance and more of a financial opportunity. The difficult part of the equation is that most people do not place enough importance in written communication and overrate their own abilities to write a coherent message. However, I am happy to see that most posters on this site pay better attention to their message than most posters in other sites. A few of them just have to work a little harder on the correct use of the apostrophe.

      • 0 avatar
        dingram01

        Well, since you’re on the topic of editing, perhaps I can use this as an opportunity to request that you guys improve your own?

        Jack’s articles are reliably error-free, or nearly so, but almost everyone else, including your vaunted Kreindler, has trouble with basic punctuation. The improper use of “it’s” rises to the top, but there are multiple other atrocities in almost every article on TTAC.

        Raising the question — does ANYONE proofread their articles before posting? Why not?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I suppose some day Kardashian and her low life tallywhacker boyfriend will be invited to a new car press intro instead of TTAC

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Jack, you know what to do. Take one for the team and then steal the car while she sleeps. You are our only hope.

  • avatar
    TW4

    The slut event horizon will not happen for the same reason the psychedelic event horizon never happened. After the hippies were done enjoying their psychedelic trip and their free love, they decided the results were not as grand as they had imagined. They grew into socially-conservative voters who banned everything from heroine to ephedra to cigarettes, and they taught their Gen X and Gen Y progeny to exterminate themselves with abstinence and to use birth control to reduce the number of pediatricians and neo-natal workers, thus free up healthcare services for our aging populace. The goal was to allow kids to produce massive quantities of material, without granting them the privileges of responsibility in a free society.

    The rise of Gen Y smut-commercialism is a natural reaction for a group of people who reach sexual maturity earlier than any previous generation (weird but true), yet live in arrested development as the world shapes us into the overqualified, sexually-vanilla, PhD-educated corporate-machine-cogs they want us to be (see American Beauty). For god’s sake, we’re quarter-life-crisised, half flacid, and completely bald by the time it is socially acceptable for us to have sex or “a career”. We were taught to “change the world”, but we’ve also been taught to take on debt as soon as we turn 18. We’ve got college debt and we owe 100% of GDP. We are a generation of kids who screw-one-another-for-the-”mortgage” harder than any generation that has come before, and the social stratification starts the second you take a typing class and log onto social media (12?).

    In summary, the Slut Event Horizon is an impossibility in the near term, the same way that $300 oil is an impossibility in the near term. Society will collapse before it actually achieves the apocalypse it predicts. Internet porn is falling apart with the acceleration of internet piracy. The profits of slutty-ness are already starting to wane, and SOPA/PIPA are about as popular as McCarthyism. Therefore, I would submit that the Slut Event Horizon is already losing steam, and Dodge are making a safe play in the fallout zone.

    Female vice has always been legal. They slander one another at will. They objectify men and themselves in media with no age restriction (b/c it contains no nudity). They can get pregnant, and then divorce themselves from maternity by aborting a potential human life (a man cannot abandon paternity under any circumstance after pregnancy). To date, chocolate is still unregulated.

    If fem-nazis can send young minority males into Middle Eastern slums (the sons of loathesome traditional moms) to be blown to smithereens on a Quixotic quest to free other women from the tyranny of fundamental Islam (part of the reason WOT continues to drag on), a single female blogger, who likes to put out and talk dirty, will probably never come under public scrutiny. She is an angel by comparison–too innocent and reserved for pornography, too fundamentally decent to men (compared to fem-nazis and prudes) to ever be loathed by young males. She is not the Slut Event Horizon, she is a step down, a safe haven to increase the breadth of slutty-ness but reduce the depth of its perversion. At some point, the market will reach saturation, and no one will care. In search of something new, social culture will be liberalized, hopefully economic culture will be properly liberalized (classically) as well, and the world will enjoy the substance it has always wanted to abuse–freedom from needless, unproductive oppression, be it healthcare actuaries or precision-manufactured pornstars.

    We will drink merrily, use safe diet pills to stay fit, drop e on special occasions, and work our asses so we don’t live in the squalor of inconsequential achievement. The death wish of the slutpocalypse will be averted. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      Seriously, dude…keep writing it. You might be your generation’s Kerouac…..this might be the opening paragraph to your generation’s “On the Road”…..

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Yes, that was nice to read, wasn’t it? One of the pleasures of writing for TTAC is our particular commentariat. Even the people who hate me are usually interesting.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Yes, that was nice to read, wasn’t it?”

        Not particularly, no. If the run-on sentences didn’t make you wince, then the hollow cliches such as “fem-nazi” should have.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        It’s not just that he used “fem nazis”, which was painful enough to watch, but that he accused the “fem nazis” of being hawks. I can agree that the war on terror is a mess, I cannot agree that the blame for it falls on “fem nazis”, unless that is a new term for neo-con Republicans.

    • 0 avatar
      TW4

      For your entertainment purposes–a sub-atomic particle of truth in a complex organic compound of hyperbole and antiestablishmentarianism. It cannot be dismissed, yet it cannot possibly be accepted. Can it?

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        BTW, am I an outsider on an anti-establisment blog that fights an industry laden with federal pork?

        Fight the power, my content-owning artisan brothers.

  • avatar

    As always, I reject your premises that there needs to be more than one Consumer Reports and that just because a place is honest means they’re accurate.

    I’d rather read a good story than a boring, accurate one.

    Savvy consumers won’t rely on unreliable sources of information as gospel.

    Non-savvy consumers will make dumb or price-heavy purchasing decisions regardless of the quality of information that’s available.

    Auto journalism is pornography, not journalism (usually not in the literal sense, but…). Always has been.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I also reject the premise that there needs to be more than one Consumer Reports.

      What’s required is people who experience the car honestly, evaluate it fairly and in the proper context, and communicate that to the reader in a manner that fails to waste his time.

      • 0 avatar

        Fair enough.

        I’m not sure the fact that they invited Ms Friel is indicative of a trend towards sluttification of auto journalism so much as a move to invite people from across the blog spectrum (outside of cars) to drive the car.

        The spectrum extends from mombloggers to gay cyclists to this woman. That people are making a big deal out of her in particular says more about us (online auto writers and consumers) than Chrysler.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Exactly, as I go into more detail on in a reply below, this had nothing to do with marketing the Dart to people that read traditional auto reviews, and everything to do with marketing the dart to people that don’t.

        While I’m sure that Chrysler only hoped to reach Jen Friel’s non-gearhead, predominantly female readership base by flying her out to drive the car, Chrysler is having the good fortune that her review is going viral across the car review sites.

      • 0 avatar
        PJ McCombs

        mad_science: +1.

        And reading Friel’s actual post, it seems most of the reason it went off-topic is because halfway through the drive, sore-loser Jalopnik was already calling her out as a ‘slut’ online because she got the gig instead of them.

        That made the story more about mysoginistic car guys and their fragile egos than the car itself. Guess which take is going to reach more people?

        What an embarrassment.

  • avatar
    boxelder

    Don’t worry, Mr. Karesh. I very much enjoyed detailed reliability data when I was but a young man, and I still do today.

  • avatar
    kid cassady

    The merit of inviting a sex blogger aside, a quick perusal of her site reveals a giggly, irritating teen blog writing style that I thought went the way of Windows ME and the Pets.com sock puppet. Do people really read her blog?

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Ok, so I bit. After all, who is this person and why is she on an all expenses paid trip reviewing a car and not me? Seriously, I have life experiences too, I just don’t share them in public like…cough cough, a publicity whore.

    After killing an hour reading her blog I feel like I just drove past a highway wreck. You don’t want to look at the blood, but you just can’t turn yourself away. Then I stumbled on her review (if you call it that) of the Dodge event. Yawn, I’m back here.

    I’m not going to attack her and if she can make a living doing what she’s doing, well, more power to her. Heck, I’d love that trip she got on Dodge’s dime. Then again I really question Jen and most other Gen Y people that live their lives in public in this thing called social media. I see it as America’s worship of celebrity going a step further to make everyone a celebrity. “No paparatzi following me, well then I’ll be my own, including very personal detailed stories about my life in the bedroom, etc.” To each their own I guess.

  • avatar

    I almost died at “tight-ass dubstep soundtrack”

  • avatar
    Silvy_nonsense

    TTAC is fighting the good fight, but unfortunately you are preaching to the choir. You keep pointing out how goofed up other auto journalists/magazines/web sites are, but, we’re already well aware. I’d rather see TTAC put it’s energy into talking a local dealer into loaning you a car for a day, then writing a review or whatever creative shenanigans you have to get into so you can evaluate a car. Karesh seems to be good at that and I say whatever works is fine. More than anything else, I want to read what you have to say about the cars. I don’t care how you get the car, just get it and write about it.

    All the stories where TTAC is thumping it’s chest and bragging about how cool TTAC is for being the auto journalist police are boring as hell. The name of the web site is “TTAC – The Truth About Cars” not “WIMP – Whining about Industry Marketing Practices”. I’d love it if I could read more car reviews and fewer (preferably zero) whiny, tattle-tale stories where you expose how mean the cool kids are and how much it hurts your feelings to be excluded.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Here’s the problem in a nutshell.

      We are the only blog which regularly details how the particular sausage of automotive journalism is made.

      Given the average human being’s attention span and memory retention, if we stop “whining” for a year, people will go back to uncritically purchasing vehicles based on what they read in Autoblog.

      You’re not required to read any of this stuff and unlike some other blogs we don’t suck you in with a lede that doesn’t match the story.

      That’s the most I can tell you on this topic.

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        Fair enough.

        I said “whining” because that’s what it is. Instead of selling TTAC’s strengths and convictions, these articles typically focus on your competitor’s weaknesses (over and over ad infinitum). That’s a tactic of desperation employed by losers who have nothing good of their own to highlight. That definitely does not apply to TTAC, so I don’t understand why you’re going the hater’s route. You’ve got a winner’s strengths, so could we please hear more about them?

        You’re right, Jack, I don’t have to read any particular article. However, TTAC does have to pay it’s bills. When you put up stuff that’s just a re-hash of something that’s been up many times before, I’m not going to read it and there will be no ad display/click through revenue (or whatever causes money to flow into TTAC’s accounts). That’s a less than ideal outcome.

      • 0 avatar

        Hey, I try to make burying the lede my personal style.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “We are the only blog which regularly details how the particular sausage of automotive journalism is made.”

        That’s fine, but the effort would be more credible if you spent more time dealing with the facts of the industry, and less time sounding like a resentnik while you’re doing it.

        While the lifestyle blogger thing is new, the fluffiness of car reviews is not. Auto reviews in newspapers have traditionally served as anchors for dealership advertising sections. The “reviews” aren’t intended to provide critical analysis, but to bring reader eyeballs to the car ads. With few exceptions, there never was a Golden Age for newspaper-based car reviews.

        The automakers allow writers to drive press cars because of a desire to sell cars, not because of some intense devotion to the First Amendment. This may be a shock to some readers, and it isn’t particularly nice, but I frankly can’t understand how this could possibly be a surprise.

  • avatar

    Wow. You clearly didnt’ read car mags in the 80′s. The long lead is just effin wonderful. Sweetness and light in car form. (Liked Portugal or Dakar, too !).

    On our shores, the first test will be very positive, with one quibble (road noise).

    The comparison test will then be had, with BMW winning despite overpriced options. Your car may be second or third.

    The car will be tested. Now an aged four, it is “long in the tooth” and the new car, previewed in Dakar, or South Africa, or the Outback, will be referenced.

    The car is replaced. The new car is glowing. There is a dismissive, “and of course the clunky transmission” and the “excessive road noise” will be mentioned as “fixed”.

    I’ve seen the Corvette interior and build quality “fixed” three times so far…..

  • avatar
    Acd

    Jack,

    Keep shining the light on the BS of modern automotive journalism. Your articles are one of the things that makes TTAC a daily destination.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I’m usually the last person to know about these things…. but is this Jen Friel actually famous? Has ANYONE ever heard of her before this? I mean- I can totally understand the car companies wanting to reach out beyond the usual auto-journal echo chamber, but why on earth would they hire her? Just how many viewers does her blog have? How many viewers who are not 14 year old boys?

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    Baruth…you’re a great fucking writer, but I think with this article, you hit harder than ever. Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Jack, you’ve again used your ability to tell a great story to completely miss the point.

    First, the newspaper business non sequitur that you use in an attempt to establish ethos. The monopoly story sounds plausible. Especially as told by you. Except that it is empirically false. In the small towns that truly had a newspaper monopoly, the newspaper generally sucked, was lazily managed and hid corruption in exchange for access. The truly great newspapers all rose out of cut-throat cross-town competition in large cities, not from “noblesse oblige.” The proper analogy for investigative journalism is racing, not vegetables. People might buy the newspaper for the cupholders, but they still want the one that wins the races. To get subscribers in the cities with multiple newspapers, and readers that only buy one, the newspapers had to win races. If they tried to hide damaging information in exchange for access they risked getting scooped by the competitor. The factors undermining reporting are media consolidation, which takes away the need to maintain a competitive edge (if you can’t beat them joint them), and the inability to scoop competitors. Facts cannot be copyrighted, but, prior to the internet, a newspaper that invested in discovering facts could profit from them. If a newspaper invested in a deep investigation, or took the risk to publish damaging information, the payoff used to be a one-day lead. That was huge because it left the other paper’s readers out of the loop on the latest news. Online publishing has destroyed the ability to profit from that advantage. I don’t think there should be copyright protection for facts, and I’m not a luddite, so I don’t know the answer to the latter issue.

    Back to this ho Jen Friel. I say ho, not slut, because it is a more affectionate term, and I have no feud with Jen Friel. Regardless of my feelings toward her game, she is just a good player. Slut has been tarnished by angry, prudish, men-hating women self-identifying as sluts (partially in reaction to baiting from a fat impotent drug addict) . I would hate to compare Jen to that kind of person.

    I remember, a long time ago, before the profitable embarrassment of Monster Garage, and the costly embarrassment of cheating on America’s sweetheart with a transvestite, reading a Jesse James interview where he said, basically, that he likes women, and he likes bikes, but he hates the kind of magazine with pictures where the women block the bikes. In your analysis you are giving men both way too much credit and way too little credit. First, too little credit. The “Jack’s Foolproof Chart Of What Young Male Readers Like” list is super cute, down to the au currant dubstep reference. But it is completely misses the point with regard to car reviews by hos. Going back to Jesse James, just because young men like hos, and young men like cars, doesn’t mean they like car reviews written by hos. To Jalopnik’s credit, even though it has posts on hos, it doesn’t let hos write auto reviews (usually it doesn’t let anyone write auto reviews, but that is another subject).

    Now for where you give men too much credit. Your analysis of what young male readers like assumes that Chrysler is using Jen Friel to market the Dart to men. It isn’t. Chrysler is not using a review by a ho to sell cars to men, Chrysler is using a review by a ho to sell cars to hos. And maybe even some sluts. They have the money (young women out earn young men in big cities), AND they respect the opinion of another ho. It doesn’t matter whether Matt Hardigree or Derek Kriendler is the “Most Interesting Young Auto Writer”, the kind of hos in the Dart’s target demographic aren’t reading their reviews. They are reading the life and times of Jen Friel. Even if they know what Jalopnik is from the common ownership with Jezebel, they aren’t going to respect a review by some “gearhead.” They want to know a ho like them likes the car.

    Enter Jen Friel.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    Flawed market argument. The Boy Scouts shy away from commercial entities as chartered organizations, so a general store going out of business won’t sink a troop. A church or an elementary school PTA disbanding, however.

    My inner jerk compelled me to find one meaningless nitpick.

  • avatar
    LKre

    One day, Chrysler. When Michael Karesh rents the Dart… The vibrations, the chassis architecture, the inside door handle… Just you wait.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I don’t know, I like her. She seems like a cool chick, and if she is able to make money doing her blog, more power to her. I don’t think TTAC should be snubbed, but social media, for better or for worse, is about reaching all types of people. Not just car guys who most likely would buy a used Panther over a new Dart anyways.

    Besides, how are her posts any different than Jack writing about 3somes with vodka and drama?? There is nothing slutty about being a sexually active single 20something girl. It’s pretty shitty of everyone to call her that too.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
    H.L. Mencken, (1926)

  • avatar
    Franzouse

    I have actively “not liked” Jack Baruth ever since his Viergang Fuchs days over on Jalopnik but by Jove man, your writing on this site has been very, very good lately. Careful, you’re entering into “likable” territory…

  • avatar
    George B

    Wasted time reading Jen Friel’s Dodge Dart review and only learned that 1) she had trouble driving a manual, 2) the Dart is longer than her VW Beetle and therefore would be difficult to park in her part of Los Angeles, and 3) Jen Friel mostly writes about Jen Friel. She didn’t even bother to take pictures of the car.

    The other part that is disappointing is that she’s neither a nerd nor a slut. She’s a salesman and model, actress, whatever who sometimes wears glasses. I find no evidence of any technical training or problem solving curiosity. I also call BS on the slut part. She went out on a lot of 1st dates with a lot of guys, but near as I can tell the number of guys that got lucky is in the single digits. She just uses her youth, personality, reasonably attractive appearance, and total absence of shame to get guys to give her free stuff.

    Imagine if Chrysler had flown Glenn Reynolds in to do a Dart review for Popular Mechanics instead. He would have made an effort to review the car and there would have been pictures. I have no idea if the Blogfather can drive (he owns an RX-8), but it’s guaranteed that he would have given Chrysler far more exposure with a link to his review on his Instapundit blog.

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    This oh-so-indignant post must have been written by some other author of the same name: you know, someone who would NEVER stoop to inserting sexual innnuendo, grandiose conquest yarns, or other silly clickbait in his blog posts.

    Because if not, that would just be hilarious.

    TTAC is at its best when it’s delivering the quality car coverage advocated in this post. Running attack posts on attention-starved kids’ sensationalist blogs only (1 gives them more of the attention they want, and 2) sends the message that the site is more threatened by them than it needs to be.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I think the only consequence of your vitriolic rage against Jen Friel was to make more people aware of Jen Friel.

    I still don’t know exactly who she is, what she does, or why people pay apparently good money to get her to do whatever it is she does… And a cursory search in google still couldn’t pin it down.

    My best guess is that companies give her stuff so that she can then go on ther whiny, often unintelligible, blog and talk about herself. In that sense she is the poster child of what you need to do to get ahead in this country–or all that’s wrong with it. Take your pick.

    I was honestly looking forward to the review of the Dart, because I was wondering if all the FIAT conglomeration and government scheming had turned Dodge around moreso than just really good RAM sales for the first time in years.

    But getting your hands on a particularly nasty rental and flogging it tends to give more of an honest opinion of what kind of car Americans are likely to buy/afford than a sped’d out, cleaned, tuned, pored-over press car…

  • avatar
    faygo

    the villian here is “social media” and what the people who support it (corporations who are desperate in every way to somehow connect with customers) feed it.

    this story has legs (and boobs and the whole bit) because the blogger in question has a pretty frank outlook on things and people want to read her stuff, for whatever reason. so she’s an easy mark/headline to drive page views and commentor froth.

    had Hardigee gone after the other non-automotive person on the event (not that of 20 media, 18 were automotive types) Jack’s story would have been the same (if he’s written it) but it wouldn’t have been as sexy, ergo fewer people would have read it.

    one can bitch and moan about the lack of writing talent/style/etc all day long, but if you read some of the details Friel noted in her response (she went on 103 dates in 9 months, slept with 6 people, big f0cking deal) she’s no more or less a slut than lots of people I’d bet.

    she seems to have found a way to make a living (and has worked hard to get where she is now it appears) doing something which isn’t “traditional” and seems pointless to a lot of people. one could wonder why people get paid $mils to play sports or act in movies or play music. people want to be entertained, entertainment takes many forms, some more lucrative than others. unfortunately in this case it means that 5% of the ink-stained automotive press wretches don’t get to drive the Dart. boo freaking hoo. I’m not going to be a regular reader of Friel’s blog, but I’m not going to be all holier-than-tho about what she has to say or how she chooses to say it.

    • 0 avatar
      star_gazer

      @ faygo:

      I understand the let-it-be mentality. However, in 20 years, will she be protesting for more government sponsored programs? Who is providing her health care now? How is she preparing for her future?

      A former boss of mine stated that old bromide “The right for you to wave your hand stops at my nose”. In other words, lack of preparation for your future on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. Nor tax payer contributions.

      • 0 avatar
        JustinM

        I’m gainfully employed and have health insurance through my wife’s job. I could have it through mine, but it’s substantially more expensive for less coverage. I also agitate for more government programs. What of it?

        Aside from that, she is essentially self employed. Why don’t you go after all the other self employed people? It’s all functionally equivalent in the end.

        The world is bigger than your libertarian ken.

  • avatar
    McNewbie1

    Hrm. You had me until the “young male readers,” part. What about us chicks? Chrylser is a taking a risk, all that’s left is to see if this experiment pays off. As I’m sure you know, they also have Travis Pastrana promoting the Dart and released a video of him testing it. They’re covering all their bases in trying to build a new, younger audience. The real test will come when the sales numbers pour in. Chrysler will also have to sort out how well the car sold and why. It will be interesting to see how many of Jen’s followers pony up for the Dart.

  • avatar
    H Man

    No flying vagina jokes yet?

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    In the industry don’t they call people like her lifestyle opinion shapers or some other nonsense like that?

    Basically she has a large following of people that probably trust her opinion even when she has no way of making an informed opinion. And because of that, enough of them will buy the car because she said it was good.

    Smart move on the automotive manufacturers part, sad day for automotive websites.

  • avatar
    Brunsworks

    Jack, you make some excellent points here, but you undermine them all by constantly pointing out how awesome you (think you) are. Cut it out. I for one am sick of it already, and I’ve only been reading your writing for about the past few months. A “Phantom Edit” of this piece where your talk about you is excised the same way Jar Jar Binks was taken out of “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Edit” would be really great.


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