Daily Podcast: Toyota Steps Up
A month or so ago, I exchanged emails with an editor whose auto blog shall remain nameless. TTAC had slated his wide-eyed, spin-friendly coverage of some auto industry news. The offended ed wanted me to believe that our sites were brothers in arms. He argued that delivering "soft news" was just as valid a pursuit as purveying "hard news." In what turned out to be my final missive, I insisted that the term "soft news" is an oxymoron. We were actually discussing the difference between good journalism and bad journalism. And that was that. But the more I surf his site, the more I cruise the autoblogosphere for honest-to-God reportage, the more I wonder if Watergate ever happened. Time and time again, the press give even the most patently bone-headed not-to-say Lutzian industry players a free ride. Even on those rare occasions when a reporter asks a suit a hard question, the self-proclaimed journalist never drills down to the nitty gritty. I guess that's why we're here. To ask the question no one else is asking. And I think the industry knows it. That's why Tesla failed to honor its promise to TTAC and followed BMW, Subaru and other automakers in refusing us seat time in a press car. But– and I'm guessing here– our editorial independence is also one of the reasons Toyota recently contacted TTAC and offered access to their press fleet. Does this signal some kind of sea change? Is the industry finally ready to face the music? I doubt it. But like Ford CEO Alan Mulally's promise to see the world through "clear glasses," it's a start. Kudos to Big Al. And props to Toyota. While we won't give either automaker special treatment, we recognize and respect their courage.