autowriters.com october 2007 newsletter


the road ahead

The people have spoken and they are saying they do not want to pay for content online.  The New York Times has dropped charges for its “Select” content.  CNN, Economist and Financial Times preceded it among others dropping barriers to their content.

From bloggers to professionals, it increasingly appears that it will be advertising that will monetize their offerings.  Complicating this form of collecting for content is Band Promiscuity as reported by the Center for Media Research.  The numbers that currently most often determine an ad’s value are being diluted by news readers or viewers normally visiting as many as 16 different news properties a week.

The peripatetic consumer supports the conclusion by Online Spin Columnist Max Klehoff that “The Future of News Is Small,” following a roundtable discussion of the subject with fellow Spin columnist Dave Morgan, Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis and Business Week’s Steve Baker. The latter offered the interesting prediction that “Editors will go the way of the linotype machine.  Increasingly, human editing will be viewed as an expense and a delay that few can afford.  Algorithms, editing software and search engines will handle much of the work.  Communities will bounce around the stories and edit in their own way.” 

Klehoff points out that as the importance of the editor or other aspects of the present day newspaper decreases, "the importance of the individual reporter or voice will rise.”  He elaborated, “... If we are in a long-term period of eroding trust in what’s big and institutional, then we are bound to enter a period of intense consciousness and value over what is small... This period will bring tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurial, independent, innovative thinkers to shape what does become the news business.”

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new roads

Shannon Atkinson of Tigard, Ore. was not satisfied with the automotive sites he found on the Internet.  An automotive enthusiast with a computer background, he decided to create one of his own.   The result is www.Njection.Com, self-proclaimed “Best Car and Truck Forum Site On The Internet.”   The key word is “forum” because Njection emphasizes the web’s interactive nature, offering Forums by make, language and region; Blogs by technical contributors; an AutoWiki capable of being modified by all registered users of the site and moderated by pros; a World Map showing the location of site members and a World Calendar of automotive events and links to them.  Atkinson will pay contributors based on the hits and advertising “click-throughs” their work generates.

From Wooden Horse News: Go is a new travel magazine from the publisher of Outside, for active, affluent men.  It includes a “Go Fast” feature with “one of the foremost automotive writers in the United States.” . . . ZOOM-ZOOM is a new global customer magazine from Mazda.  A partnership with London publisher Redwood Custom Communications resulted in the 1.5 million-circulation title in five languages to eight countries, including the US and Canada.  . . . Continental, the general in-flight magazine of Continental Airlines, has added a new Go for a Spin department that will report back on a test drive of a luxury automobile, inspiring readers to check it out for an adventure of their own.  . . . Laura Burstein has been invited to play with the boy bloggers aggregated at Jalopnik. She also blogs “Girl On Cars” for www.CNET.com and writes for Forbes Autos.

Jan Wagner who writes and takes outstanding photos for his web site and newspaper column has added hosting “You Auto Know” talk show on KCEO AM 1000 to his busy schedule that now includes coverage of power boat and air races.  The radio show is archived for download at www.totallymotorsports.com.

Chris Beddows has introduced TACH NEWS a monthly newsletter for The Auto Channel.com. . . . Jill Amadio, auto columnist for Entrepreneur magazine and www.KBB.com  adds a new column at www.WomenEntrepreneur.com. She's also ghostwritten a mystery and credits Denise McCluggage for suggesting the title: A Moment in Crime. . . . Automotive Rhythms has launched a new web platform, www.ARtvLive.com  to provide another way to view its Automotive Rhythms Television programs and compliment its www.automotiveRhythms.com site.

Keith Griffin has added Life Publications, a 171,000 circ. monthly newspaper group to his outlets.  They serve the towns around Greater Hartford and are starting a new automotive section with Griffin as the sole product reviewer.  He’ll also write at least one article a month on automotive topics.  His first was on top cars for 2008.

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autowriters spotlight

John Rettie is building a new and different auto site on the web.  Slowly.  That’s a frustration of his entrepreneurial life: postponing possibilities while tending to actualities in or at hand.Photo: John Rettie Of those, he has many, including a monthly column on digital photography for Rangefinder, a magazine for professional photographers and another column on web technologies for After Capture, a magazine for professionals about what to do after the image has been captured.  He also conducts the annual Automotive PR Survey sponsored by the Motor Press Guild, which he conceived while serving as that group’s president for a second time in 2004 and 2005.  He also was president of MPG in 1992.

John consults on digital photography and the computer industry as well as automotive PR.  However, he is primarily an auto writer, having started in 1971 where his first review, he recalls, introduced him to the tightrope of the craft: reviewing a “horrible” iteration of a brand for its owner magazine.  That was in his native England where he designed,  built and marketed plastic VW cowls for eight years while also freelancing in the States and then partnering in a U.S. photo, advertising and public relations shop after moving here permanently.  In the U.S, he has been an editor for Meyer’s Publishing, West Coast Bureau Chief for Ward’s Communications, and  Editorial Director for J.D. Power and Associates where he created its first web site and then became Director of Automotive Content for www.jdpower.com.

For three years, while with JD Power, he also wrote a weekly road test column for the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group. His auto writing and photography skills take him to events around the world as a journalist and sometimes participant, most recently Dakar 2007.

Another web site in the offing is his RocknRoll Photo Gallery.  While a student at Leeds University, Rettie was fortunate enough to photograph many famous rock groups that performed at the school's weekly Saturday Hop.  It is a matter of finding time to select the best from hundreds of shots of those he covered, among them: The Who -- Live at Leeds, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Pink Floyd and Procul Harum.

Another of his site’s where time is standing still features his Glamour Photos Calendars and out-takes.  While a third, Web Insights, is running as well as up.  His chief web venture, however, is the new auto site.  He believes the web as well as eliminating the publisher, producer and director middlemen is creating a new, short-attention-span, sound-bite genre.  He is building his site accordingly.  John no longer believes the Internet’s “Long Tail” will make penny prices feasible.  And with subscription models not working, he is back to ad servers as the likely way content will be monetized in the future- “the cream rising to the top” from the multitudes of content providers the web enables.

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top blogs

Worth noting is that while blogs are hot, making money with them is not.  Simon Dumenco, reports in Ad Age that one of the nation’s best known blogs, the Huffington Post, has consumed $10 million in venture capital and is yet to turn a profit - despite not paying its celebrity bloggers.  Meanwhile, AWCOM continues its search of the top 100 automotive blogs.  So far, The Auto Extremist is the top nominee and that’s without ranking high in blogging’s three main virtues as cited in AutolineDetroit’s recent program on blogs.

John Neff, editor of www.Autoblog.com rates “immediacy”as blogging’s chief value; Ed Garsten, former AP auto writer and now Chrysler's blog master, cites building community as the drive behind the carmaker’s media and consumer blogs while Scott Burgess of the Detroit News says the opportunity for interaction, personality and more information than print space allows, propel the newspaper’s blogs.  And, underlying all three,  the fact that the public is increasingly turning to the internet for their information and entertainment.

The Auto Extremist is topical but no where in the league with Autoblog.com that strives to be first on the web with news and, like Wikipedia, relies on the self-correcting nature of the worldwide web to append and amend breaking news.  Nor does the Extremist build an interactive community.  It does build “fans” much like traditional print columnists but there is not much give and take.  Its virtue is writer Peter DeLorenzo’s clear, authoritative voice reflecting an insider’s knowledge, an outsider’s objectivity and a reasoned passion for good sense to prevail.

Other nominees in our search so far are: Neff’s www.AutoBlog.comAsk Patty.typepad.com – Automotive Advice for Women;  the Driving Women Blog at Edmunds.com/women;  GM FYI Blog; Cars.about.com by Aaron Gold; Michael Knight at SpinDoctor500blog@blogspot.com; The Bell Curve by James Bell of www.Intellichoice.com; TheGarageBlog by Gary Grant and friends at the www.garageblog.com; and Alex McCall’s www.Troubleonwheels.blogspot.com.

You are invited to nominate your favorite auto blog: aggregate, corporate or solo while AWCom seeks a sponsor for top blog awards.  Please submit your nomination(s) to talktous@autowriters.com and include links to your candidates.

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pit notes

A new nationwide contest to select some favorite vehicles has been announced by four Texas auto writers: Marlon Hanson, Alan Gell, Kelly Foss and Gretha Gudmundsson.  The Readers Choice Awards are designed for readers of newspapers, magazine and websites.  Voting is free and no inducements to participate in the online voting are offered at www.autojudge.com.  The winners will be announced at a special press conference on Tuesday’s Media Day at SEMA. . . A provision in the new contract between publisher Time, Inc. and the Newspaper Guild prevents management from demanding that print reporters must write for the web.

Phil Berg’s Ultimate Garages II is not a book about housing cars, working on cars, nor even the treasured cars cosseted in the remarkable facilities shown in rich color (260 photographs) and described with a minimum of hyperbole.  It is about acts of love - 23 lovers with varied tastes and means, expressing their passion.  A passion that celebrates the possessing as much as the possessions.  And for most a kind of obsession which David E. Davis, Jr. aptly captures in his foreword to this handsome coffee table book by quoting collector William B. Ruger, Sr., “I believe the definition of obsession is to continue to pursue the original goal long after you have forgotten what it was.”  Ultimate Garages II is available through bookstores, specialty motoring booksellers, and by calling, David Bull Publishing at 602-852-9500 or by visiting the Web site at www.bullpublishing.com. Retail price: $34.95.

Also new from David Bull Publishing is Can–Am Challenger by Peter Bryant.  This 384-page book with 143 black and white and color photographs, is about race cars - designing, building and racing them.  Bryant, self-described as “the Cockney FI mechanic who designed and built America’s best Can-Am race cars,” provides a wealth of detail and insider looks at this legendary era in U.S. racing when innovation and experimentation trumped restrictions and regulations.  In his career Bryant worked with some of the top names in motorsports, including: John Surtees, Jo Bonnier, Graham Hill, Mickey Thompson, Carroll Shelby, Carl Haas and Jackie Oliver, who wrote the foreword.  Hardly a tell-all, more a tell-it-like it-was, Can-Am Challenger is available at $49.95 through bookstores, specialty motoring booksellers, and by calling 602-852-9500 or visiting www.bullpublishing.com.

Back home after a hospital stay, Shav Glick, widely liked and respected recently retired Los Angeles Times motorsport writer, is seeing friends - his wife and heavy medication schedule allowing.  He was pleased that the paper asked him to write a by-lined obit of his long–time friend, Wally Parks.  Cards can be sent to Shav at 501 Mercury Lane, Pasadena, CA 91107.

It is (and always was) “Test Days” for IMPA, not “Track Days” as AWcom was advised by a member or two of that pioneer auto journalists organization.  Held in September, the recent Test Days were reported as the “most successful in recent memory.”. . . And, while we are at it, contrary to what was stated in our September newsletter, the Automotive Industries title is still around.  AWcom was reminded of this by a www.Newswiretoday.com posting that www.Gasgoo.com, China's largest B2B auto parts sourcing platform, has entered a partnership with Automotive Industries (A.I.).  Gasgoo.com is dedicated to playing a role in connecting China and world automotive industries.

The United States of Toyota is a new tome by Peter DeLorenzo, aka The AutoExtremist.  His blog describes it as “a never-before-seen primer on Detroit.”  Its subtitle is ”How Detroit squandered its legacy and enabled Toyota to become America’s Car Company.”  Perhaps “The Arrogance of Ignorance” (“We’ll push ‘em back into the sea”) “Death by Assumption” (They don’t know how to build cars”) or Suicide by Presumption ("Amercians Won’t buy Jap cars”) could also work.  The United States of Toyota is currently available on Amazon.com, in the $30 range, and at Borders.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Powells.com. . . . Motor Trend Executive Editor Matt Stone has penned McQueen’s Machines, for MBI Publishing.  With a forward by Steve McQueen’s son, Chad.  It includes behind-the-scenes family stories about the actor’s passion for cars, motorcycles and racing and a number of previously unpublished photos among the 219 color photos in the 176-page book.  The book is available in bookstores everywhere in November 2007 or through www.motorbooks.com

Vince Bodiford remains interested in “Worst Car” nominees.  Bob Storck suggests “cars listed be given some justification: shoddy engineering, inappropriate  marketing, durability, lack of support, etc.  It would be important to only choose from cars well enough known to be recognized ... the first half century was filled with market failures like the Rockne, Stafford, Winton, Marmon, etc.  How many Brazilian, South African or Indonesian brands would you recognize?” Send your nominees to vince@theweekenddrive.com

CAR COLLECTOR is celebrating 30 years as a magazine and is publishing a Collector's Issue with over 200 pages and a print run of over 100,000... Editor Lyndon Bell advises that the correct URL for the Urban Wheels Awards is www.urbanwheelawards.com . . . Aston-Martin is the top “Cool” brand in a survey by Brand Republic, the United Kingdom’s self-proclaimed leading online business portal for the marketing, advertising, media and PR industries.  It beat out Ipod, Google and You Tube, according to Immediate Network’s Press, PR and Media Digest. Ferrari was ranked 11th.

AWCom neglected to mention when referencing Chic-Auto edited by Camilo Alfaro that it is a new high-end glossy automotive magazine inserted in Pioneer Press Newspapers and the Chicago Sun Times with a targeted circulation of 110,000 among households with $150,000 + incomes.

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lane changes

Veteran journalist John O’Dell has joined Edmunds, Inc. Santa Monica, Calif. headquarters as a senior editor.  He will build the web sites “Green Car” coverage, focusing on the automotive industry’s environmental initiatives and undertakings, including: hybrid cars, alternative fuels, technological developments and gas-saving tips.  O’Dell has won numerous awards in his 35 year journalism career. With the Los Angeles Times since 1980, he covered the auto industry for the past decade and before that government affairs, politics and economics.

Barry Winfield has left direct employment of Car and Driver to freelance.  He will continue to work quite a bit for the magazine and its web site but will contribute to other car and motorcycle pubs and websites and also assist Peter Groschupf on Mercedes Magazine. . . Leslie Maxwell, former PR Director for Martin & Company Advertising, has hung out her shingle as an automotive aftermarket consultant in the greater Nashville area.  She will continue to provide PR services to Martin’s clients and can be reached at lesliel@isdn.net or 615-952-3917.

Among the changes at Primedia under the new owner, Source Interlink, Phil Howell, has returned to 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility as Editor-In-Chief from the same post at Off Road, now filled by Jerrod Jones.  Howell has relocated from Hurricane, Utah to Wellsville, also in the Beehive state.  . . . Detroit News auto editor Susan Carney has been named business editor, filling the post vacated recently by Mark Truby who left the paper for a PR post at Ford Motor Company.

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across the finish line

Wally Parks - He built the National Hot Rod Association. An American Hot Rod Foundation video of Parks reflecting on his life can be seen at http://www.ahrf.com/video.php

Tom Beesley -  Editor, Photographer, “Wheels” Columnist, Star Community Newspapers, Texas.   A Memorial Scholarship in his name at Frisco Education Foundation, Frisco, TX.

Cordell Koland - California freelancer who wrote for a number of business journals.  A Memorial Scholarship in his name at San Jose State University, San Jose, Calif.

Jack Walsh - Retired Automotive News truck editor.

Bud Ekins - Stuntman and pioneering champion off-road motorcyclist who was also Steve McQueen's double in "The Great Escape".

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awards, honors and events

24 Hours of LeMONS at Thunderhill entry forms first round draft by Nov. 1,  WAPA'S Golden Quill Award entry deadline Dec. 1 see http://www.washautopress.org/:
  

OCTOBER
9 APA/NADA Luncheon, Detroit, MI
9 NEMPA/SEMA Dinner, Boston, MA
10 WAJ Dinner, South San Francisco, CA
Future Fuels & Propulsion Talks & Test Drives
13 MPG Power Trip long Beach to Toyota Auto Museum, Torrance, CA
16 APA/Consumer Reports Luncheon, Detroit, MI
16 Automotive Hall of Fame Annual Induction & Awards Night, Dearborn, MI
17 WAPA Lunch Strathmore Mansion, Luxury Market Panel: Bentley, Maserati, Rolls Royce
18  IMPA Lunch 3 West Club, NYC GM
21 WAPA 9:30 a.m. Annapolis, Md. Road Rally
25-28 TAWA’s 2007 Truck Rodeo Grapevine Texas
30-1 SAE Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress & Exhibition, Rosemont, IL
30 -2 SEMA Show, Las Vegas
NOVEMBER
1 Detroit Press Club SteakOut, Dinner, Marriot Renaissance, Detroit
6-7 MPG Track Days, Willow Springs, Rosemead Calif.
14 MPG Breakfast, Los Angeles International Auto Show
DECEMBER
29-30 24 Hour of LeMONS, Thunderhill, Race Track, California www.24hoursoflemons.com
 

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motoring press organizations

The 14 regional automotive press associations provide information and background not easily found elsewhere.  If they are too distant to attend their meetings, belonging usually gives you access to transcripts or reports of these events and other benefits.

Contacts

APA Automotive Press Association, Detroit - John Lippert, jlippert@bloomberg.net
IMPA International Motor Press Association, NYC, Fred Chieco, President - info@impa.org, www.impa.org
MAMA Midwest Automotive Media Association, Chicago - www.mamaonline.org
MPG Motor Press Guild, Los Angeles - www.motorpressguild.org
NEMPA New England Motor Press Association, Boston - www.nempa.org
NWAPA Northwest Automotive Press Association, Port Orchard, WA- www.nwapa.org
PAPA Phoenix Automotive Press Association, Phoenix, Cathy Droz, President- drozadgal@aol.com 
RMAP Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, Denver - vince@theweekenddrive.com
SAMA Southern Automotive Media Association, Miami FL, Ron Beasley, President, RonBeasley@SAMAonline.org
SEAMO Southeast Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC www.southeastautomedia.org
TAWA Texas Auto Writers Association http://www.TexasAutoWriters.org, Harold Gunn, hgunn@gunstuff.com 
TWNA Truck Writers of North America, www.twna.org Tom Kelley, Executive Director, tom.kelley@deadlinefactory.com
WAJ   Western Automotive Journalists, San Francisco  - www.waj.org, Michael Coates, president, coateskm@aol.com
WAPA Washington Automotive Press Association, D.C., Kimatni Rawlins, President - www.washautopress.org

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- 30-

Glenn

Glenn F. Campbell
Principal
autowriters.com

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