None of you could ever accuse me of having a particularly thick skin, but there is one accusation that does get to me. Cries of “clickbait” are often doled out in these pages. They seem to occur when somebody disagrees with the conclusions reached in the article, or when too much negative light is shed on the reader’s pet brand. Cognitive lapses aside, these accusations get under my skin for a couple of reasons
- TTAC has never been under a mandate to increase our click count, and as long as I am at the helm, it will not be. Unlike other competitors, who tie everything from their editorial schedule to the compensation of their writers to “clicks”, we are allowed to sacrifice quantity in favor of quality and editorial independence. This means that in exchange for our freedom, we don’t get certain things, like unfettered press car access, or the budget to hire a copy editor. But our owners at VerticalScope have consistently understood and respected our need to liberate this site from the shackles of tyranny: in this case, click-based reporting, compensation structures etc. It comes at a significant cost, in terms of budget and salaries, but the end result is a website that can bring you The Truth About Cars, rather than baseless rumors, photos of celebrity genitalia and other unseemly editorial topics designed to juice our stats.
- In terms of ROI, a 1000 word essay on the topic of automobiles is hardly the stuff that clickbait is made of. Slide shows, listicles and the like are far better instruments to cheaply generate clicks, and they’ve never appeared on this site. Not agreeing with a point of view does not equal clickbait.
That’s not to say that all clickbait appears in the form of a Buzzfeed-esque “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT THESE 25 ADORABLE BABY DIESEL WAGONS DID NEXT” piece of “content”. Sometimes, you get it in the blind repetition of totally baseless rumors that are, at best, wish-fulfillment for poorly trained, poorly paid bloggers and at worst, inaccurate information posted out of a reckless disregard for the realities of what it takes to bring a new vehicle to market.
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.
A quick note on the Reader Ride Review program. The response has been overwhelming.
Less than a month after our “Reader Review” program began (with Bark M taking TTAC reader Gene’s Chevrolet SS for a spin), the program is picking up momentum: we have now chalked up our fourth review, and we’d like to take the chance to formally extend this opportunity to all of our readers.
“You have to carry the fire.”
I don’t know how to.”
Yes, you do.”
Is the fire real? The fire?”
Yes it is.”
Where is it? I don’t know where it is.”
Yes you do. It’s inside you. It always was there. I can see it.”
January 1st marked the second anniversary of my full-time employment at TTAC, and my third as a writer for the site. Since then, I’ve served under three different E-I-Cs, watched popular writers come and go, made an effort to read every single comment, return every email, meet readers in person and act as the liason between our owners at VerticalScope and the rest of the staff. On January 1st, Jack announced that in a short time, I’ll be taking over as Editor-In-Chief, but I somehow managed to miss the post entirely, as show above.
For the past little while, we’ve been working on a new project expressly for our readers: a TTAC forum. And we want your input to help shape it.
Slightly over a month ago, we had a spot of regime change here at The Truth About Cars. At the time, we unveiled a five-point program to improve the site and improve the reader experience. I’d like to take a moment to review these five points and give you a chance to provide further feedback on our progress so far.
Clip has strong language
The domain name “thetruthaboutcars.com” was registered by Robert Farago on September 24, 2001. At the time, most of America was too busy with other concerns to notice. In the nearly thirteen years since, the site has had just three Editors-in-Chief. First, there was RF himself, tirelessly tearing away the façade at General Motors. Then, Ed Niedermeyer brought the site to new heights in readership and reach, speaking truth to power all the way to the White House itself. Finally, Bertel Schmitt provided the Best&Brightest with some truly unique insider information and insight about automotive happenings from Frankfurt to Tokyo.
Welcome to the third changing of the guard. In the next thirty days, Derek Kreindler and I will completely and thoroughly reboot TheTruthAboutCars. Our predecessors molded the site in their image, but we will be molding it in yours. Towards that end, we’ve created a five-point-plan to fix what’s broken here and bring all of you back home to TTAC. If you have a few minutes, please read it — even if you’ve long since given up on this site and the people who run it.
The article you are about to read was written by former Editor-In-Chief Bertel Schmitt during the course of a long and somewhat personal disagreement he had with former contributor Steven Lang. This article does not represent the views of The Truth About Cars, its staff, its contributors, or its ownership. We’re leaving it up because we don’t censor the past — but we no longer stand behind the piece or recommend that you read it — JB
Our intrepid technical team will perform hardware maintenance tomorrow, Tuesday between 8am and 11am Eastern. TTAC will move to a standby server, while they replace hardware on the main server, vacuum the dust mites, lubricate the hard-drives, and whatever scheduled maintenance a server needs. (Read More…)