QOTD: Once Again We Ask How Auto Show Media Days Can Be Saved

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
qotd once again we ask how auto show media days can be saved

I hate to repeat QOTDs, and I know I've asked a version of the upcoming QOTD at least twice -- but I am struggling a bit with ideas today, and I am also thinking, still, nearly a week later, about how dead NAIAS was in Detroit.

We wrote about it. Jalopnik wrote about it. Others wrote about it, and many journos posted about it on social. So, how can the media day regain its former glory, if it even should?

I've said my take -- media days are being killed by OEM offsites, the lack of far-out concepts (Lincoln had a concept that espoused radical design this year, but for the most part, concept cars are now thinly-veiled versions of production vehicles), and by giving journalists embargoed material for pre-writing. That last bit means that press conferences rarely surprise.

I know a lot of automotive-media consumers don't give a rat's butt about auto-show media days. But I also know that at least some of you do. I know some of our audience is comprised of industry employees, and I also know that some TTAC readers are the kind of automotive enthusiasts who care about this minutiae. So, I ask you, if you were working for an auto show, how would you save the media day?

[Image: NAIAS]

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5 of 6 comments
  • Dwford Dwford on Sep 20, 2022

    Perhaps the automakers could stop with the intentional "leaks," just for starters. Then maybe take the actual auto show seriously, and stop with the off site side events. Bring everything back to the show.

    As for the show itself, why do we have to pay admission to basically walk through a dealer showroom? Are we paying for the comfort of not having a salesman stalk us?

    • RHD RHD on Sep 23, 2022

      Is this really a priority concern for the average TTAC reader, who is working for a living, raising a family and paying his bills?

  • Wolfwagen Wolfwagen on Sep 21, 2022

    -Stop intentional leaks

    -Stop offsite events

    -Manufacturers need to come up with new interesting designs. Look at Alpha, Canoo, and Rivian.

    -Manufacturers need to develop and show off their technology and engineering (this is where electric cars really suck because an electric motor is an electric motor. think of the engineering back in the day of getting 300+ HP out of a 4-cylinder. Now if they could develop an electric motor that makes 300+ HP and is the size of an alternator that would be truly impressive )

    -I understand that trucks and SUVs/CUVs are hot but not everyone wants one. Bring back coupes, wagons, and 2-door SUVs. Even a concept is better than some of the real offerings

    -Stop making everything look like some soulless blob.

    • See 1 previous
    • Dwford Dwford on Sep 21, 2022

      It's nearly impossible to make the SUV shape sexy or premium looking. Regardless of price, they all look the same, except Maybe the Lamborghini Urus

  • Dukeisduke I subscribed to both Road & Track and Car and Driver for over 25 years, but it's been close to 20 years since I dropped both. I tried their digital versions with their reader software (can't remember the name now), but it wasn't the same. I let it lapse after a year.From what I've seen of R&T's print version, it's turned into more of a lifestyle thing like The Robb Report. I haven't seen an issue of C/D in a while.I enjoyed both magazines a lot when I was subscribing. R&T for the road tests (especially the April Fools road tests), used car reviews, historical articles, and columns like Peter Egan's Side Glances and Dennis Simanitis's Technical Correspondence. And C/D for the road tests and pithy commentary, and columns like Gordon Baxter's, and Jean Shepherd's (that goes way back to the early '70s).
  • Steve Biro It takes very clever or amusing content for me to sit through a video vehicle review. And most do not include that.Tim, you wrote :"Niche titles aren't dying because of a lack of interest from enthusiasts, but because of broader changes in the economics of media, at least in this author's opinion."You're right about the broader changes in economics. But the truth is that there IS a lack of interest from enthusiasts. Part of it is demographics. Young people coming up are generally not car and truck fans. That doesn't mean there are no young enthusiasts but the numbers are much smaller. And even those who consider themselves enthusiasts seem to have mixed feelings. Just take a look at Jalopnik.And then we come to the real problem: The vast majority of new vehicles coming out today are not interesting to enthusiasts, are not fun to drive and/or are just not affordable.You can argue that EVs are technically interesting and should create enthusiasm. But the truth is they are not fun to drive, don't work well enough yet for most people and are very expensive.EVs on the race track? Have you ever been to a Formula E race? Please.And even if we set EVs aside, the electronic nannies that are being forced on us pretty much preclude a satisfying driving experience in any brand-new vehicle, regardless of propulsion system. Sure, many consumers who view cars as transportation appliances may welcome this technology. But they are not enthusiasts. I don't know about you, but I and most car fans I know don't want smart phones on wheels.There is simply not that much of interest to write about. Car and Driver and Road & Track are dipping deeper into nostalgia and their archives as a result. R&T is big on sponsoring road trips for enthusiasts - which is a great idea. But only people with money to burn need apply.And then there is the problem of quality in automotive writing. As more experienced people are let go and more money is cut from publications, the quality and length of pieces keeps going down, leading to the inevitable self-fulfilling prophecy.Even the output on this site is sharply reduced from its peak. And the number of responses to posts seems a small fraction of what it used to be. This is my first comment since the site was recently relaunched. I don't expect to be making many in the future.Frankly Tim - and it gives me no pleasure to write this - but your post makes me feel as though the people running this site have run out of ideas and TTAC's days may be numbered.Cutbacks in automotive journalism are upsetting. But, until there is something exciting and fun to write about, they are going to continue. Perhaps automotive enthusiasm really was a 20th century phenomenon..
  • THX1136 I think that the good ole interwebs is at least partially to blame. When folks can get content for free, what is the motivation to pay to read? I'm guilty of this big time. Gotta pay to read!? Forget it! I'll go somewhere else or do without. And since a majority of folks have that portable PC disguised as a phone in their pocket, no need for print. The amount of info easily available is the other factor the web brings to bear. It's perhaps harder now to stand out. Standing out is necessary to continued success.In an industry I've been interested (and participated) in, the one magazine (Mix) I subscribed to has become a shadow of it's former self (200 pgs now down to 75). I like print for the reasons mentioned by another earlier. I can 'access' it in a non-linear fashion and it's easily portable for me. (Don't own a smarty pants phone and don't plan to at the moment.)I would agree with others: useful comparison reviews, unique content not easily available other places, occasional ringers (Baruth, Sajeev, et al) - it would be attractive to me anyway. I enjoy Corey, Matt and Murilee and hope they continue to contribute here.
  • Daniel J I wish auto journos would do more comparisons. They do some but many are just from notes from a previous review compared to a new review. I see where journos go out to a location and test drive and review a vehicle on location but that does absolutely nothing for me without any comparison to similar cars. I also wish more journos spent more time on seat comfort. I guess that doesn't matter much when many journos seem to be smaller folks where comfort isn't as important. Ergonomics are usually just glossed over unless there is something very specific about the ergonomics that tick the journo off. I honestly get more from most youtube reviews than I ever do about reviews written on a page.
  • Namesakeone It's not just automotive. All print media is treading water. Time Magazine has gone from weekly to biweekly. Playboy no longer exists as a print magazine. There are lots of other examples. How to fix it? Let me be (among) the first to say that I have no idea.