By on August 1, 2014

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People often talk about particular events being seared into their minds: Pearl Harbor, JFK’s assassination, 9/11…I remember the first time I ever read an article by Jack Baruth.

It was 2009, and I was sitting in the living room of my parents’ house, on summer break from college, working a menial job as a receiver on a loading dock. I had the day off, somehow, I found myself on Speed:Sport:Life, reading Avoidable Contact #19: Rich Corinthian Swaybars. No writer had ever been able to weave so many different threads, concurrently drawing out each part into a cohesive narrative that explained the sociology of the automobile, in the most elegant prose I had seen in any automotive publication. My life was never the same again.

In the days that followed, I managed to get in touch with Jack, finally meeting him at the 2010 edition of the Detroit Auto Show. I failed to heed his advice about making this my full time job, and before I was even studying for my finals, I had a full-time auto journalism gig lined up. By the time I joined TTAC in January of 2012, Jack had become a trusted friend and mentor, someone who has been able to help me hone my voice and professional decorum as well as helping me navigate the challenges that come with learning to be an adult and a mensch in my personal life as well. Jack has shown me how to respond to criticism with magnanimity and how to remain principled and ethical in an environment that frequently tests both.

Of all the lessons Jack taught me, none has been stressed more than his words to me on the first day of our rescue mission: “your responsibility is to the readers.”

I’m cognizant of the responsibility being placed upon me.  I have never so much as spoken to Robert Farago, but I intend to keep alive his legacy, by reporting The TRUTH About Cars, no matter what it may cost us in financial resources or “access”, the great stick that the auto makers use to keep journalists “on-message”.

Meanwhile, I will strive to keep learning as much as I can about the design, engineering, manufacturing, wholesale and retail sides of the business, building on the lessons taught to me by Ed, Bertel and Jack. I will be bringing in some new faces, like Prof Mike Smitka, Timothy Cain and other former and current industry authorities, to help our coverage of the automotive world, but nobody is being shown the door. We will return to our roots as a site focused on the auto industry, but we will not turn our back on the Junkyard Finds, Piston Slaps, Vellum Venoms, crapcan racing and everything else that has made TTAC what it is.

It is a privilege to have your readership, day in, day out.  I will continue, as Cormac McCarthy put it, to “carry the fire”. It still burns white hot within me. I hope you can all see it.

 

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123 Comments on “What’s Next At TTAC...”


  • avatar
    scrappy17

    Your humility and passion will ensure your success. Congratulations Derek!

    Let the next saga begin.

    • 0 avatar
      old blue

      Mr Baruth is no Henry N Manney, nor a Peter Egan.

      The writing is mostly smart aleck, without enough substance to make it worth reading.

      How far Road and Track has fallen.

      Perhaps TTC will be better. Perhaps it has been wounded fatally.

      m

  • avatar

    Derek, it will be an honor to write for you so long as you will continue to have me, and to learn from you, as well.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    In our world today (regardless as to whether this was always, previously true), money has become a god to the extent that it has the pernicious effect of quashing legitimate, brutally honest & often times necessarily harsh (in tone & substance) criticism of the status quo (whether geopolitics or automotive reviews).

    Those who sell their soul to the devil & enter into a pact to intentionally misrepresent the true state or nature of whatever is being reviewed are granted all manner of favor, access and, often, financial compensation, and their de facto mission thus becomes an inherent conflict of interest & diametrically opposed to the better interests of their readers.

    What I respect most about Jack Baruth is his (I believe sincere) desire to provide honest reviews of vehicles, based on his genuine impressions of their attributes (regardless as to whether I agree with his assessment) sometimes (or often times) to the point of eliciting negative reaction from automotive manufacturers, where the manufacturers have sometimes gone to the extreme measure of blacklisting him or whatever publication he’s working at the behest of.

    Nevertheless, Jack continues to provide reviews, even of vehicles manufactured by companies that would not willingly grant him access, by renting vehicles or even borrowing readers’ vehicles, in what
    can best be described as a Young Turk coup d’état that thwarts the attempts by manufacturers to control who reviews their products, and directly, what is stated about their qualities (or lack thereof as the case may be).

    Jack has pioneered the anti-Tony Swan (who is an automotive presstitute) review, and found a way to defeat the controlled message attempt by manufacturers.

    The only other resource I know of that I believe hasn’t sold its soul to the manufacturers, and become the fox guarding the henhouse, is Consumer Reports (even when I disagree with a given assessment of theirs).

    But CR is a more diplomatic, sterile source of information & reviews, whereas Jack injects more flavor, humor and biting sarcasm into his opinions, and is able to connect on a more culturally relevant & aligned level with people my age (and younger – and older people of a certain world view, for that matter).

    Never become a presstitute and I believe more & more people desiring honest & sincere information
    will inevitably cast aside and ignore the Tony Swans of the world and join your congregation.

    And once enough people join your congregation, as Consumer Reports has proven, manufacturers will not only be powerless to censor you, but will literally redesign their wares in response to your reviews.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      This.

      Please continue on in the tradition of RF and JB with your own voice.

      I look forward to what lies ahead.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      Hey, Dead Weight, a very, very good post. Maybe one of your best?

      • 0 avatar

        This is just one in a whole series of great posts. DeadWeight has been on a real roll recently.

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          I agree.

        • 0 avatar
          challenger2012

          Thomas This is off topic, but this is as good of time as any to ask. What part of Buffalo do you live? I was born and raised in Tonawanda, (played hockey for the Lincoln Park Lions) and went to Kenmore East.

          • 0 avatar

            I’ve officially relocated now but I lived in Williamsville, close to Millersport Highway, near Getzville and UB North Campus.

          • 0 avatar
            Willyam

            Thomas, I’m glad you’re in our little area of flyover country now…I’ve spent 20 years on and off in the KC area.

            For Derek, great job sir. I grew up reading the great and not-so-great car mags in a pre-digital era, as did many of the B&B I imagine. I dreamed of writing for them. I got a Journalism degree with some business courses. And, after floundering awhile in a terrible economy (ain’t it always), sold my particular soul to I.T. in the desire to feed myself. It’s been grand, but I live vicariously through the great places you get to go and the impressions you transfer to us.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      re: “The only other resource I know of that I believe hasn’t sold its soul to the manufacturers, and become the fox guarding the henhouse, is Consumer Reports (even when I disagree with a given assessment of theirs).”

      Check out autoextremist (.com). More about auto people than cars, but enlightening nonetheless.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      And resign yourself to the realization that someone is going to accuse you of selling out, no matter what you write, most likely within the next two weeks.

      At which time, you keep in mind that wonderful visualization of “water, duck’s back”.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      You’ve got it surrounded very eloquently there, DeadWeight.

      Automotive marketing, like so many dead sheep dumped into a communal well, has been poisoning discourse for a very long time. It’s very much thanks to publications like this one that we’ve come to recognize that the typhus-flavour we’ve grown accustomed to is neither healthy for consumers nor manufacturers.

      Again, thanks to publications like this one, who aren’t afraid to speak truth to power, manufacturers are finally paying attention. Not all of them are getting the message (thinking about you here, GM), but others are working very hard to produce safe, competitive, and excellent products again (FCA).

      Please keep this tradition alive.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Thanks for the compliments.

      I just want to be clear that my comments were my attempt to NOT bury Derek and his new tenure as EIC of TTAC (before he gets a fair shot), but to praise him, given that he has pretty much stated a comittment to a mission statement similar to that which Jack laid out.

      And just off the top of my head, I can cite Derek’s relatively recent review of the new FCA Cherokee (and post-review fallout handling of it) as a tangible example of what seems to be his genuineness to continue Jack’s vision.

      Again, the point isn’t whether Derek’s review and opinion of the vehicle (at that time, of a pre-production vehicle) would necessarily align with my own, but rather, whether Derek was conveying his honest assessment of the vehicle to TTAC readers, rather than some compromised-from-the-outset review, infected by the circumstances of FCA’s invite to host auto journalists & attempt to “color” their “impressions” and follow-on reviews.

      And consider what resulted; Derek acted independently, not allowing pushback from either direct/official FCA employees or FCA loyalists to sway his original review, he stuck to his guns, and this resulted in a subsequent review of a production level Cherokee that was considerably different.

      The end result? TTAC readers received another unvarnished review of the Cherokee by Derek, and in this instance, all parties to the process, INCLUDING FCA (ironically, or maybe not ironically, since FCA acted as a “grownup”), benefited.

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        DW aka Marc Antony from Julius Caesar. ;)

        PS. I haven’t forgiven you for irrigating my sinuses with coffee as a direct result of reading your ideal TTAC automobile list.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Had forgotten about that! Indeed, Derek, you’ve got the chops!

        My concern is more how he’ll be treated by the overlords running this site!

    • 0 avatar

      Well said, DW.

      Derek, I’m lookin’ forward to what’s next…especially as I ponder a possible new vehicle purchase by year’s end.

      Keep delivering the truth and you’ll be a worthy successor to Robert and Jack.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @DeadWeight – bang on.
      Automotive journalists exist on a symbiotic plane with auto companies. Keys to the “all mighty” press fleet are one teat of the corporate cow. Bite the teat even if is gives you sour milk and you will starve.

      Give us honest reviews not better written press releases.

      You guys will deliver.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I will agree 100% with DeadWeight for about the third time ever.

      As for your own words, Derek:

      “I intend to keep alive his legacy, by reporting The TRUTH About Cars, no matter what it may cost us in financial resources or “access”, the great stick that the auto makers use to keep journalists ‘on-message’.”

      It sounds like your management will make it a distinctly uphill battle for you to keep this promise. But if you can, you will keep readers like me. Godspeed.

  • avatar
    tuffjuff

    Where’s my Alex Dykes? :(

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      A site like this is only as good as the TEAM that writes for it. TTAC has lost some great talent, and I count Alex among the best of that group.

    • 0 avatar
      salhany

      Yes. By far the biggest loss for the site since it started. Yes, even a bigger loss than Farago. His departure represented the site’s most glaring “failure” IMO. He does wonderful work on his YouTube page, and I wish him future success. I hope this site learns from his departure and takes steps to ensure similar losses do not occur again.

      • 0 avatar
        GiddyHitch

        I think it’s erroneous to state that the loss of a single writer had a larger effect on this site than the loss of its founder and EIC. After RF departed for more explosive pastures (ahem), the style, content, and quality of writing of the site degraded (though there have been periods of brilliance under each of the subsequent EICs, even He Who Shall Not Be Named).

        The loss of Dykes and Karesh had a material impact on the balance of the reviews found here – those two always brought a thoroughness and professionalism to their reviews that is often missing from the more impassioned, emotional work from the rest of the staff. The latter is often more entertaining, but the former is more useful and I ultimately need both to feel satisfied.

        Dykes leaving TTAC was not due to a personality conflict with JB (unlike DeMuro’s purportedly), but rather with the upper management at VS, so I would not expect to see him back here any time soon.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      He has his own site. His reviews are now hovering around 30 minutes, which is 25 minutes too long IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        I liked Alex’s reviews, but always felt that they were a little too “safe” for TTAC. As thorough as they were, they never really seemed to bite as confidently or unapologetically into the subject as the other writers here.

        His trunk test, presumably to ascertain the relative travelling comfort of the abductee (a need sorely unaddressed by car brochures) was about as risqué as he got. He also never tested stow ‘n go for either abduction or smuggling to my knowledge, which constitutes an unforgivable lapse.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    And lest there be any doubt that Jack is not only an excellent writer about & purveyor of all things automotive, but maybe even an irreplaceable one, I give the B&B a mere three exhibits (out of a possible umpteenth zillion) that should slay all such doubt:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/avoidable-contact-cayenne-wont-help-ya-cayenne-wont-do-you-no-good/

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/an-open-letter-to-jim-farley-mark-fields-and-everyone-else-re-lincoln/

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/avoidable-contact-the-watery-big-bang-the-32-step-power-steering-fluid-check-disposable-faux-ury/

  • avatar
    flatout05

    A serious question (and implied suggestion) during this changing of the guard: Has TTAC considered using a copyeditor to polish and proof each post before it goes live?

    I realize this is a not-inconsiderable budget issue. But TTAC goes toe to toe with the big players, and one of the last advantages those players have is impeccable copyediting. Why is this important? Because it makes readers feel like they’re in good hands – taking care of the little things engenders trust on the big things.

    I’m genuinely eager to hear your thoughts. And congrats!

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      I’m a good proofreader, perhaps not a great one. Hell, part of what I do for a living is review technical documents from other engineering departments, as well as write a few of my own here and there.

      I’d love to help and wouldn’t charge an arm, leg, and toenail, but I don’t know if I can promise the timeliness you may need.

      But flatout’s point stands. Just this morning, “waver” instead of “waiver.” my eyes!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      TTAC used to have a few good men (Daniel Stern and Jeff Puthuff) who did exactly this.

      That level of journalism went away with Mr. Farago’s pseudo-independence.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      I’ve been suggesting this to Derek for a while now. Eventually, a way must be found to do this.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal; it is expensive, excellent, and very well edited. It is also 24 hours in arrears and still has a few mistakes that slipped by the copy editors.

      TTAC is timely, interesting, and free. For this I can tolerate a few copy editing mistakes. If you cannot tolerate a few copy mistakes in your free reading I suggest you have entitlement issues.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        I agree with you on this issue. Sins against language are ubiquitous on the internet. However, the point of writing is communication, not formalism. There have been few instances in my TTAC reading where errors prevented meaningful communication.

        In all honesty, the above sentiment hasn’t kept me from pointing out some of those errors in the comments section. Another part of the communication process is feedback.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          “the point of writing is communication, not formalism”

          Beautifully said.

        • 0 avatar
          smartascii

          The point of speaking is also communication, and yet much of what gets communicated comes from appearance, mannerisms, accent, eye contact, etc. While the notion that non-verbal cues impact spoken communication hardly even bears mentioning, it is also fact that because it has no non-verbal information, the lack or degree of what you’ve termed “formalism” in written communication often functions as a secondary communication channel, and what’s communciated by mispellings or errors in grammer and word usage is a distraction at best. Much of the content here at TTAC is unlike what’s available elsewhere, and I think it’s a shame to excuse its editing failures, precisely because those failures blunt the effect of the content.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            I think you’re just referring to class-markers superimposed on communication. If there’s any forum that proves the superfluousness of that meta-channel, it’s TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Editing someone’s copy in a “comment” is pedantry, for sure. But that does not mean that well-edited copy is a triviality. Good editing is a benefit to the reader and to the writer (assuming he/she pays attention). As a former newspaper reporter, I’m familiar with the experience of my city editor editing the snot out of my copy. Further humbling me was the fact that I had Ivy League bachelor’s and master’s degrees and this guy, like most reporters of his generation was an undegreed autodidact. Later, in my second career as a lawyer I became a a volunteer editor of one of the American Bar Association’s magazines, which depended on articles solicited from lawyers and judges. I can’t tell you how interesting it was to have to edit the copy of some federal appellate judge, in order to make it comprehensible even to other lawyers.

      I’m not arguing that contributors should be dumped in favor of a green eye-shaded grammatical pedant. As they say, you can’t polish a t**d.

      But the volunteer idea might be worth thinking about, so long as it is done anonymously. In other words, only you, the author and the editor should know of the editor’s role. That would reduce the natural tendency we all have to showboat a bit.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve thought about it in the past, and wish there was a way to do it. Unfortunately, I can’t call somebody up at their day job and ask them to edit copy, for free, on an extremely tight schedule. We will find a way to remedy this problem.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          Had you considered a Slashdot-esque “early release” model for posting that would see stories go live to sub-editors for a hold-down period?

          Not ideal, I know, but it would save you from pendants like me calling editors out in the comments.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            Psar, did you mean “pedants”? (Damn auto-spell…)

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            Oooh, nice burn! I felt that!

            But yes, that’s the kind of thing that it would be helpful to have someone else catch. I appreciate Derek et al are busy and that too much content is (in my case) tapped out on a piece of glass that’s trying to guess what you just swiped.

    • 0 avatar
      Dingleberrypiez_Returns

      Oh my god this x1000. I have no idea how the blog world works but it would seem to me that a reader review of a three year old car would not be under any strict deadline, and could therefore afford to be held to a reasonable editing standard.

    • 0 avatar

      I try very hard to keep grammar, spelling and syntax mistakes out of my work, but they’ll still pop up from time to time, sometimes to embarrassing effect, as when a late edit creates a spelling error in a headline.

      Still, it’s rather frustrating to put the effort into the research and writing of a 2,500 word essay and get ragged about a superfluous apostrophe in “its”.

  • avatar

    As someone who has had things go live with some pretty glaring errors I too would value this, mostly because it would make me look a lot less like the chump I truly am. I’m not sure if other authors go back and edit their articles the way I do after they go live, but I try to get the best product out that I can.

    Because I understand how hard that can be, I cut people a lot of slack when it comes to small copy mistakes. This is supposed to be fun, light reading and as long as they hit it with a spell checker I’m good. Besides, you get a certain energy from “doing it live.”

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      Editing is an integral part of the writing process. It’s really not optional.

      • 0 avatar

        You are correct.

        On the other hand, when you are responsible for writing multiple posts a day, communicating with the other staff, editing their own stories and all of the minute tasks that keep the site running, sometimes things get lost in the ether.

        • 0 avatar

          This +1. Time is a limited resource. Do you spend it revising posts until they are almost perfect and a day late? Or do you post timely content so it’s relevant and risk a few, occasionally glaring, grammatical mistakes?

          Done is better than perfect. I’ll take errors as long as I get relevance. If I want perfect drivel, I’ll read Autoblog.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            Everyone’s job has this type of limitation. The great ones find ways to do both–which is why they are successful, and they choke out those who can’t figure out how to do it.

            If ‘business as usual’ doesn’t produce a quality product, you need to reinvent the way you do business.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s another factor, but it ties into my post. I only have so much time and so many budgetary resources at my disposal. Would you rather have Sajeev and Murilee, or a copy editor?

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “That’s another factor, but it ties into my post. I only have so much time and so many budgetary resources at my disposal. Would you rather have Sajeev and Murilee, or a copy editor?”

            Does VerticalScope have a shared-services team? If they do, this should be a function of that team.

          • 0 avatar

            If that were available to us, we would utilize it. For now, my focus is maintaining our editorial independence. It’s easy to armchair quarterback this site from the veil of an anonymous user name. You see a mere fraction of what goes into this site to help keep it running, for free, every single day.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            “Would you rather have Sajeev and Murilee, or a copy editor?”

            The answer is obviously “You’re asking the wrong question.”

            The correct question is: How can the function/effect of a copy editor be accomplished without consuming more time and money? It is incorrect to assume a thing cannot be done because the way it is currently done is too expensive.

          • 0 avatar

            And the answer to your question, right now, is “it can’t”. I’m just going to have to pull up my socks and get better at it.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “If that were available to us, we would utilize it. For now, my focus is maintaining our editorial independence…You see a mere fraction of what goes into this site to help keep it running, for free, every single day.”

            I don’t dispute that, and it wasn’t a facetious question; it was a serious one.

            Many multi-tenant enterprises have one or more shared-services teams for common functions (marketing, design, back-office, HR, legal). I was curious to know if VerticalScope had something like that.

      • 0 avatar
        Discoman

        It is

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Jeff,
        Start paying for a subscription, then you can be critical.

        ‘I want my free content to be perfect!’

        Ridiculous.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Haven’t you gotten your TTAC Gold membership yet?

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            The membership where we get the secret high quality posts authored by industry insiders and Pulitzer prize winners?

            Of course I have it!

        • 0 avatar
          Jeff Waingrow

          Tresmonos, this is a straw man. First, this site is not free. Or rather, it contains advertisements that are paid for. Someone is presumably doing all this to make either a salary or a profit. I read lots of “free” content on the web knowing full well that all that advertising is paying for my supposedly free read. Finally, I don’t want my read to be “perfect”, to use your word. Rather, I just think that a bit of editing would improve the site immeasurably. Still, I take Derek at his word that he would do this if he could find a way. We’re all so bright. Maybe we can figure something out.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Your incessant complaining and self (edit) entitlement bull sh1t is annoying as hell. Do you click on the ads and purchase items via the link? Do you feed this site with revenue directly? If you don’t, you are just generating web traffic. Anyone can do this and that alone doesn’t warrant an editorial staff to accommodate your nit picking.

            You are being overly critical about something that you don’t pay for. Stop it.

            Edit: I challenge you to provide value added anything to this site. Thus far you are failing hard. I only cringe when I see your name in the comments section.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Hee hee… I recently saw “garnish” used for “garner” on a government website in a story that made the major newsfeeds.

            Jeff, you can demand grammatical perfection in contemporary free media or you can just keep stockpiling your unused alprazolam for the day when you have to accept that nobody is immune to our culture’s decline.

          • 0 avatar
            86er

            “Jeff, you can demand grammatical perfection in contemporary free media or you can just keep stockpiling your unused alprazolam for the day when you have to accept that nobody is immune to our culture’s decline.”

            Good god, does this mean the PTA is disbanding?

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Culture’s decline? I see the TTAC as advancement. Back in the ‘good old days’ when @ssholes (who organize their thoughts in such ways where they think they’re hiding the fact they are indeed, an @sshole) couldn’t complain about grammar, no one was reading about info provided by industry insiders or unbiased car reviews on the internet.

            Information is delivered more efficiently. Everyone needs to get over the pitfalls of efficiency.

      • 0 avatar

        Editing is vital, but I’ve found far worse mistakes, such as using “prolific” to mean “high profile”, in the Associated Press, along with many other establishment publications with far greater resources than we have at our disposal here at TTAC.

        While it’s embarrassing to make a spelling mistake, I’m much more focused on avoiding factual errors.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim_Turbo

      I agree. Nobody is perfect-even editors miss items. I’ve seen spelling and grammatical errors in Time, Motortrend, Road and Track, Consumer Reports etc.

      And I also don’t care if someone uses “concrete” instead of “cement” in a story or vice-versa. Come on now-we all know what is meant. No need to be a prick and make a lengthy post about the differences between the two.

      One thing I like most about this site is it is not all polished and sterile.

      Just my 2 cents.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      To everyone out there who insists on starting their corrections with “I really hate to bring this up . . . . .” or some such variant:

      You’re lying. On a Stalin-esque level.

      You really love to be pedantic, display your ‘greater intelligence’ to everyone else, and just see yourself in print correcting someone else’s mistakes.

      I’m intelligent enough to bleep over an obvious grammatical error, continue reading, and understand the gist of what’s been written. Try it. Life’s a little simpler that way.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        I hope no one gets the wrong impression… I’m not bashing the site or any of the writers. Most of the time little errors are harmless and do not change the intent of the writing. I almost never, ever, correct anyone in the comments. But the fact that people do, shows that enough readers do notice.

        I had some REALLY good English teachers in high school. They hammered the fundamentals into our developing minds. Hell, to this day, I still use 2 spaces after a period. Even in text messages!

        In fact you could probably ask any grammar / spelling nazi why they nitpick and they’ll tell you that they don’t look out for it; they just SEE it!

        The quality, the HEART of TTAC’s writing is impeccable, and a few typos won’t change that.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          “Hell, to this day, I still use 2 spaces after a period. Even in text messages!”

          Grade 9 typing class…. /shudder/

        • 0 avatar
          Dingleberrypiez_Returns

          kvndoom, you’re not alone. Clearly we all value and enjoy this site or we wouldn’t keep coming back and commenting. That doesn’t change the fact that there is some improvement in the editing department that could take place.

          I agree that attacking an author in the comments is a little rude (not that I haven’t been guilty of doing this). Fortunately Derek has provided a few forums for allowing constructive criticism on the site, and I consider this post among them.

          No one is getting excited over small typos. I think the glaring ones that appear in opening sentences and article titles could reasonably be avoided- but again, they don’t get in the way of enjoying this site. The bigger issue is poorly written contributions where the message is lost by unfocused, convoluted, or otherwise ineffective writing. There have been countless articles on this site that would have benefited from a round of editing to shorten and tighten up the content- not just addressing grammatical errors. These are articles that may have interesting content, but I just can’t get that value out of them because of the writing.

          I understand the need for timeliness with some of the industry news or a midnight Challenger Hellcat review. However, most of the unique content that we come to this site to enjoy isn’t time critical. I think the regular authors on this site do a more than adequate job with editing their contributions. However, since the site appears to be more heavily relying on outside contributions from non-professionals, a lot of poorly written content gets through. I think this material needs to be held to a higher standard than is currently occurring.

          On that last note, I have noticed an improvement in the editing and quality of content from guest contributors recently. It used to be a lot worse.

        • 0 avatar
          Winston Braithwaite

          “Hell, to this day, I still use 2 spaces after a period. Even in text messages!”

          Times have changed. Two spaces after a period is archaic and against web best-practices.

          It’s an arcane practice that came about because of fixed-width fonts in typesetting and typewriters.

          Put two spaces after a period as a working blogger and you’ll hear about it damn quick.

          Copy editing is something ALL the blogs, big and small, sorely need.

          Unfortunately, they rely on the writers to do it. “Editors” for big sites, in my experience working for one or two, don’t edit grammar and punctuation well.

          I stopped writing for a very well-known site because more often than not, after I’d submitted a piece (with multiple rounds of self-editing drafts), an “editor” would go in and totally re-write paragraphs or make additions without reaching out to discuss first.

          So, there in my prose would sit something I didn’t write, in a style that wasn’t mine (and usually pretty fucking terrible, to boot), that would distort my meaning.

          As a professional, I’m open to discussing a piece with other team members. It makes for balanced coverage. On the other hand, it’s supremely disrespectful to manhandle someone else’s work without discussing it with them first (or by making editorial changes obvious with italics and “.Ed”).

          I live and die by my byline, that is my value, it’s my brand, as it were.

          That bit of inside baseball is the preamble to this: TTAC lets you make your statements without interference. You’ve got the rope to hang yourself. That’s awesome.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “Times have changed. Two spaces after a period is archaic and against web best-practices.

            It’s an arcane practice that came about because of fixed-width fonts in typesetting and typewriters.

            Put two spaces after a period as a working blogger and you’ll hear about it damn quick.”

            Good point.

            Interestingly, it’s often autocorrected (in software) to a period now, which is useful. I still double-space sentence terminations and just let software figure it out.

            So it the double-hyphen/em-dash and triple-period/ellipsis.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          +1 on all of the above–spelling and grammar errors JUMP OUT OF THE TEXT for me!! (Spelling, sadly, not as much as it once did. Stupid spell-checkers making me look bad!! :-( And isn’t the past-tense of the verb “travel” spelled with TWO ‘L’s?! Not according to the Bill Gates style manual! ;-) Could be wrong!) Whatever the case, I’m not going to grouse in the comments about it.

          It DOES drive me nuts to see my posts on here when the second space is removed between sentences!! (J/K — it’s the software! I do wish that this software would leave double-hyphens in place or make them longer, versus a single-hyphen with which the software replaces it!)

          Yes, the quality is there, and that’s what matters!

      • 0 avatar
        70Cougar

        Syke is right. The stupidest people I know are constantly pointing out how stupid other people are.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      “The correct question is: How can the function/effect of a copy editor be accomplished without consuming more time and money? It is incorrect to assume a thing cannot be done because the way it is currently done is too expensive.”

      This has to be written by somebody who has not managed anything. How can an additional task be accomplished without consuming more resources (time, labor, money)?!? Nothing is free; a real time copy editor has to be paid for by somebody out of some budget. TTAC has been allocated X amount of resources and if they spend more on a copy editor something else has to be cut.

      As the old saying goes, you can have fast, cheap, or good: pick two.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Another good point. Well said.

      • 0 avatar

        @Toad

        You get it.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s incredibly easy to bitch about the small number of typos, grammatical errors, etc., yet it’s much harder to submit your own writing for review. Back up your whining with your own masterworks of the English language.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            Y U HATIN BRO? LULZ

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The defensiveness doesn’t really help.

            Typos hurt the credibility of the website, whether or not you like it or care. You could pay a consultant to point out that this hurts your brand, or else you could take the free advice of your more astute readers and use it accordingly.

            Most of those who take issue with it won’t complain, they’ll just vote with their feet and give their web traffic to somebody else. That’s certainly not something that you should want.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            +1, Bark.

            So many people come to this site, expecting perfection, without realizing that it the product of a lot of hard work from a small set of individuals who are underpaid and do it as a labor of love.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            PCH – does it really hurt the credibility of the website? Substantive and insightful pieces which this site does are more important.
            Grammar and typos never hurt the Guardian’s credibility and they are expanding.

            Derek – carry on the good work and congratulations.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Grammar and typos never hurt the Guardian’s credibility”

            Sure they did. To this day, those who don’t care for it dismiss it as the Grauniad.

            The typos are an issue and they need to be addressed. The enablers didn’t help GM, and they won’t help this place, either.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            I can see the need for editing and correcting errors but how anal do you want things to become.
            I’m used to living in a big imperfect world where crap happens.

            The contributors on this site read the blog entries and are great at interacting with us.

            It isn’t a one way message like the “Ten Commandments”.

            We all make mistakes and we all clarify our intent.

            Just like car company PR, I’m wary of a perfect message.

  • avatar
    FractureCritical

    my only comment to the new EiC is to do things his own way. TTAC is a good site, but I see the same few people in the comment lines every day, and some additional differentiation from other sites would be nice, too.

    I liked Jack’s principles, but sometimes his aim faltered for allowing too much of his own feelings into his work. I do not fault him for this. Any time something so vague as ‘truth’ is a stated goal, some personal viewpoint contamination is inevitable. He was better than most at being mindful of it. Bertel not so much.

    I’d like to see more ‘truth’ but I want to see more sides of it.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    This morning I sent a close friend and former co-worker an updated seating chart of my office. The last one I sent her was on August 2, 2013. In that year nearly half of the existing names were crossed out for leaving or changing roles and then there were as many and more new names. This would be jaw dropping for someone working in this office 10-20 years ago. I work at a public utility and you used to work here for life and it took many years to move up.
    The days of having people you could always count on being there at work have been over for a while now and TTAC is obviously not immune. But the key is to pick up right where the last person left off and improve where necessary.
    The best review I have ever read for a new car was the one for the Lincoln MKZ you (Derek) wrote. I don’t care about Motorweek, Motor Trend, or often Jalopnik reviews because they aren’t going to tell me when a bad car is bad. It may have destroyed TTAC’s relationship with Lincoln, but it convinced me that I should not skip over the reviews here like nearly everywhere else. And I’m convinced when Lincoln has something good to offer, they’ll shove it down our throats with a middle-finger and all will be right again.
    I come here for the truth which these days is immeasurably valuable. As long as it’s clear that there wasn’t a $100 bill in the test vehicle that was dropped off, I think this place will be safe. Let’s just not take things too seriously.

    In the words of the One Tree Hill cutaway on Family Guy:
    There is nothing that’ll happen in the rest of our lives that’s as important as what’s going on right here, right now, on TTAC.

    “TTAC is such a serious thing. These problems matter.”

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Also, what’s up with the forum?

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I felt differently about that review.

      I get that if a car is bad, it should be called such. If the hype is empty, it should be exposed. That’s truth. But when I read that review I didn’t get the impression that the car was bad; I got the impression that Derek wanted to make a scene by saying the car was bad.

      It’s a rare skill to find fault with someone–to correct them and put them in their place–while simultaneously making them feel glad about it and thus be motivated to make a change. Good car reviews do that–they don’t sugar coat flaws, but they aren’t needlessly bitter, either.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        It’s incredibly ironic, given my harsh & loudly voiced criticism of Lincoln, that I’ve recently come to shocking conclusion that I’d rather have a new Lincoln MKZ than more than a few competing vehicles that I previously thought of as being superior.

        This may or may not be more a function of the rollout of new iterations of competing vehicles faltering, rather than Lincoln excelling, however.

        I have realized I need to be as fluid in my thinking and willing to adjust my relative opinion in a manner at least as quickly as the automotive landscape evolves.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Good luck Derek. The future is wide open. I’m sure you’ll do a great job.
    :-)

  • avatar
    Winston Braithwaite

    And I’m here…

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Don’t screw this up, D-Rock.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    For decades I believed that ‘automotive journalism’ was an oxymoron.

    Due to as you mentioned the ‘stick’ of making cars available, jetting journalists to exotic locations, etc the manufacturers ensured that the great majority of auto writers provided positive reviews, even for POS autos.

    Each new generation of a vehicle was invariably reviewed as better than the previous generation.

    For domestic vehicles, each new iteration was ‘finally a car that can compete in this segment with the Japanese’

    My favourite were the reviews of each new Malibu over the past 15 years, when unveiled they were lauded as competent import fighters, and then when replaced the previous generation was denounced and the new one was again lauded. Laughable ‘reporting’.

    The top line of the vehicle is nearly always the one ‘reviewed’ and praised. Oh yes, better to buy a loaded Accent then a base Elantra, ignoring the fact that it’s still an Accent. Again laughable.

    And of course the majority of these reviews and reports totally ignored both the needs and the purchase choices of the public. F-150’s, Toyota Camrys, Honda Civics and Dodge Caravans invariably are at or near the top in North American sales. Yet they are rarely reviewed in the mainstream media, and instead we get constant reviews of exotics, luxury vehicles, 2-seaters and convertibles all of which have negligible sales.

    Well TTAC over the past year has changed my view. It has actually ‘reported’ on vehicles, both new and used without giving a toss about what the manufacturers might want or threaten.

    Now, however I am worried that it will just become another shill for the manufacturers, rendering it redundant.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Thanks for carrying the torch Derek.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Derek: first off, like the other folks who joined this thread, let me wish you the best of success in your effort as quasi E-I-C of this site or whatever the VerticalScope people choose to call you other than “overhead.”

    Second — and this point is really addressed to the unseen masters — the essence of the Internet is NOT hogging your content. It is the opposite. A site will succeed to the extent that it both aggregates others’ content with its own. In other words, a successful website is not a newspaper or a magazine in HTML. For proof of that look no farther than The Drudge Report (which generates no original content other than the titles of the links and the editorial decision about which photo to choose. Another successful blog is “Instapundit” done by a Tennesse law professor who has leveraged himself into a guest column gig at USA Today and several other “respectable” print publications. “Instapundit’s original content consists of short blurbs introducing the linked article. Only recently was it even open to comments.

    This is a long way of saying that the VerticalScope people should reach a deal with folks like Alex Dykes and Michael Karesh for some shared content. Maybe Alex should own his content for his own site and give VerticalScope an exclusive license to use it here. I don’t know what the facts are behind their departure from this site, but I suspect it was that the VerticalScope people wanted their content to be exclusive to this site. That’s dumb. In the web world, which is all about traffic, shared content increases traffic to both web sites that host some overlapping content. Ronnie Schreiber has done some excellent pieces for this site and he also has his own “Cars in Depth” site. Let’s hope that similar disagreements don’t drive him off this site as well.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Watching and waiting eagerly. I got here in 2009 and the only time I ever came close to leaving was during BS time and the kerfuffle over the Subaru/dyke article.

    I’ll miss JB and gems like comparing a Hyundai Tiburon to a Mazda RX or using rental reviews to tell us how a rental spec W-body was better than a non-turbo Cruze. JB is roughly 5 years older than me but growing up in the same state whenever he wrote about his formative years I felt like I was there.

    • 0 avatar

      You and I are the same age, Dan. That’s kinda surprising. :)

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’ve always been an old soul. That’s likely why I had to marry a woman 7 years my junior to remind me what generation I’m supposed to be in. I’m the oldest son of an oldest son going back around 7 generations and that tends to make you act like a responsible SOB (with a twinkle in his eye) while you are still fairly young.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Derek, good luck, and I am staying here along for the ride as a reader. If I ever have an intelligent point longer than a text message, I may ruin your day by asking if you’d publish it, but I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.

    As it stands, keep on offending readers and automakers as you go, it’s what makes TTAC worthwhile…

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    More Marcelo, please, along with other SA, European and Asian contributors. Increasing use of global architecture is the obvious future and I welcome reviews and musings from those already familiar with what’s in the ADM rebadge pipeline, especially minivans that are still mini.

    The recent flap over the Hellcats of the Dragstrip Barbie® merchandising initiative was the nadir of TTAC’s grasp of significant market trends. But your coverage of the CUV’s indisputable dominance has been excellent.

    I’m hoping that Jack’s exit will also herald the end of TTAC’s living in the muscle car past. But given much of the B&B, I’m not holding my breath.

    • 0 avatar

      Marcelo will be contributing more in the near future!

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        Excellent, he’s my fave.

        And keep toughening your skin, ’cause there’s a good guy inside.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        As I see the ADHD/XBOX360/Hawked/ RedBull juiced Jalopnik editoriat slobbering all over Cadillac’s new marketing chief’s knob this a.m. (since he apparently paid them a visit in sharp-dressed-man regale yesterday, in a clear act of altruistic benevolence, in order to “explain” why ATS sales suck…errr, I mean are not more “robust”) it dawned on me thatmore reviews by Marcelo AND Vojta are another just what the doctor ordered Rx to further differentiate a more Adult TTAC from a more juvenile Gawker-spawn site like Jalopnik.

        (I do realize I am displaying massive bias here in expressing my disdain for Jalopnik’s style-over-substance, fast food essence.)

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        As I see the ADHD/XBOX360/KenBlockYo/RedBull juiced Jalopnik editoriat slobbering all over Cadillac’s new marketing chief’s knob this a.m. (since he apparently paid them a visit in sharp-dressed-man regale yesterday, in a clear act of altruistic benevolence, in order to “explain” why ATS sales suck…errr, I mean are not more “robust”) it dawned on me that more reviews by Marcelo AND Vojta are another just what the doctor ordered Rx to further differentiate a more Adult TTAC from a more juvenile Gawker-spawn site like Jalopnik.

        Those are resources to take max advantage of. I’d probably have bought a Citroen C5 by now if I was able to (even if I sold it after a few months).

        (I do realize I am displaying massive bias here in expressing my disdain for Jalopnik’s style-over-substance, fast food essence.)

  • avatar
    LALoser

    Tresmonos: If you were in my industry, I would make a serious effort to poach you. The world needs more Tresmonos types!

  • avatar
    carguy

    Derek, as long time reader of this site I wish you all the best of luck.

    However, convince your corporate overlords that these pages need more voices with automotive industry experience. While Bertle wasn’t a great captain of the ship TTAC, his industry insights were invaluable to contributing to the site’s mission.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Derek is your title changing? I didn’t see that anywhere in your writing, but people here are reading this as a change to EIC, which seemed like the opposite of what Jack had stated.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Just keep up the great work.

    You know, I like positive reviews, too. Sometimes The Truth About a Car is that it’s really good.

    When it comes to reviews – as I mentioned in another recent post – I strongly refer the “I” approach of TTAC rather than the “we” approach. I want to know whose opinion I’m getting – not a committee’s. Everyone has some biases; honesty about them is the best policy.

  • avatar
    prabirmehta

    Congratulations Derek and good luck! I have gone to TTAC every single day for the better part of the past 10 years.

    That being said, I really miss some of the old contributors, especially Alex Dykes’ reviews. I have to go to his YouTube channel now which is a pain. Can you bring him back, please?

  • avatar
    gessvt

    Derek, you’ve got a stout roster of writers. Sajeev, Thomas, Murilee and yourself to name a few. Keep up the good work.

    My new gig makes me more of a lurker than a poster, but wanted to let you know the value I receive from TTAC. Between you and Hooniverse, my internet based car reading is covered quite handily.

  • avatar
    tjominy

    Give em hell Derek. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for TTAC

  • avatar
    oldyak

    between TTAC and Autoblog I feel I am getting the best in automotive reporting and journalism.
    Couldn’t do without both!
    I do miss the video reviews of TTAC though.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    Please try to get more John Marks. I like the cut of his jib.

  • avatar
    Bob Roberts

    The topic of editing that has come up in these comments reminds me of an epic thread that Mr Baruth started on another website a few years back where he openly edited a story from Motive Magazine and invited the community to comment. There were a lot of strong opinions on both sides. The people from Motive were a bit ruffled by this, but it was one of the best (and most memorable) threads on that site, and by the third page, everyone was using words from the thesaurus. The point Mr Baruth was making, if I remember, was that traditional print magazines (properly edited) are in danger of being forced out of business by internet efforts where standards aren’t applied in the same way. If that happens, internet articles should go through the ringer like print articles do. Standards should be applied no matter the medium. Classic

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    Good lord, what’s all the fuss about…? Yada, Yada, Yada! Get on with it.


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Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States