Road Signs: September 2009

Wooden Horse News (July 12) reported, Car and Driver and Road & Track have now been re-organized by owner Hachette Filipacchi under the umbrella Jumpstart Automotive Group, named for the vertical online ad network that Hachette bought in 2007 for $84 million. Buried in the article about this reorganization in is some interesting news about these two magazines. First, they will upgrade their paper stock. Second, the automotive news, which has played such a big part for both magazines, will be mostly moved online whereas print will feature more content-rich material. In addition, both magazines will relaunch their websites this summer. Although this reorganization follows the lead of Hachette’s other magazines, pundits speculate whether the publisher is preparing to sell them.” The Road Ahead: September 2009

Photo By: Keith Syvinski

Onine Media Daily reports, “new research from social media platform Wetpaint and digital consulting firm Altimeter Group found that companies with the highest levels of social media activity on average increased revenues by 18% in the last 12 months, while the least active saw sales drop 6% over that period.” Starbucks and Dell were winners. No word on car companies but that, reportedly, is available at

In case you missed it, News Corp. Chairman, Rupert Murdoch says the vast communications conglomerate will charge for all its news web sites. Faced with a $600 million quarterly loss. Murdoch was quoted by David Wilkerson in MarketWatch as saying in a conference call with analysts and reporters, “Quality journalism is not cheap, and an industry that gives away its content is simply cannibalizing its ability to produce good reporting.” . . . And, it may become the province of the privileged if trends across the pond presage the future of journalism here. Media Digest, compiled by the Immediate Network, reports in its August issue that a survey shows journalism there is no longer “a working class trade,” with more and more “hacks” (their word) coming from well-off families. But that may be irrelevant as in the same issue Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired, author of “The Long Tail” and just out, “Free: The Future of A Radical Price“, is quoted as telling the German weekly Spiegel, “ I don’t use the word media, I don’t use the word news. I don’t think those words mean anything anymore. They defined publishing in the 20th Century. Today they’re a barrier standing in our way, like a horseless carriage.”

AOL.Com, fortunately, is going all out to become ”an online media powerhouse”, according to Michael Arrington writing for He reports the company now has 1500 people writing content, 1,000 full time, the others freelance and it plans to have 2 to 3 times more writing across its multiple sub-brands in a year -most of them coming from print media. Meanwhile, the AP has initiated a new tag and tracking system to protect the content it distributes and the scribblers who provide it. Some see this as a preemptive move versus Google’s predicted expansion from a platform to a content provider as well. Google-owned You Tube, ”self proclaimed ‘biggest news platform in the world,” writes Theresa Cramer in InformationTech.coms Newsbreaks, is actively seeking partners for its “News Near You” section. It provides video feeds  from professional provider partners within 100 miles of section visitors’ computers. This avoids the problems attending use of amateur content and advertising.