The Road Ahead: November 2009

Google and Microsoft are “content kleptomaniacs” according to News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, as quoted in a report by Media Digest of an interview he gave Sky News in Australia. He also was quoted as saying he would ban search engines from his newspaper websites when he erected pay walls for them. The walls being necessary in his opinion, because there are “not enough advertising dollars to go around and make all web sites profitable.” . . . Google president Eric Schmidt sees future media as super fast, intuitive, largely crowd and social media sourced and advertising based, as reported by Jessica E. Vascellaro in, ironically, the Wall Street Journal Network.

Autowriters.com: The Road Ahead: November 2009

Photo By: Joakim Buchwald

For automotive writers it would seem that advertising-based content would be better as long as car dealers and manufacturers pay to promote their products, locally and nationally. The premise being that auto editorial is needed to attract readers to the ads and sustain consumer interest in the products. . . However, Hewlett-Packard lab scientist Bernardo Huberman as quoted in Online Media Daily believes, “The value of information is giving way to individual expression as more people post on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.” He notes, “Our ability to pay attention to things is limited,” so it will become more important to look at ‘propagation of signals’ at social media sites to determine effective marketing strategy.” Which could mean, as AWcom interprets it, every reader an editor, selecting his or her own media input from a vastly expanded range of options.

This is only going to get wider and denser with new apps like www.Ulitzer.com offering “a ‘new media; social journalism platform which revolutionizes how we create, deliver, and consume content on the Web. Ulitzer authors can get started with their first article in a few minutes and may start a new “topic” on any subject or write a story and post it both to their Ulitzer author page and to any existing Ulitzer topic. The network effect of people using Ulitzer to communicate and collaboratively produce and categorize content is disruptive, bypassing traditional media and middlemen. Topics published on Ulitzer range from Greek Isles in the Summer to New Media via Personal Branding and Marketing & Sales.”

But wait, Kurt Cagle, managing editor of XML Today reminds us in Technology News, “The danger here is in failing to recognize that user-generated content does not necessarily just represent true facts, but also contains opinions, distortions, analyses and biased content.” Which brings into question the current popularity of crowd-sourced car reviews being promoted by Ford, Honda, Toyota and others. By becoming our own editors we will have nobody except ourselves to blame for what we get in the way of news and information.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. As an automotive technical writer, I see so much misinformation, disinformation and nonsense on the internet it makes me wonder how anybody gets accurate information.

    The problem with mob-sourced media is that the blind are often leading the blind. ANd those who shout the loudest and longest garner most of the attention whether they are right or wrong.

    If a website is going to provide accurate information or informative reviews, you need informed writers and editors creating the copy.

    As for allowing reader comments following an article or dialogue, I think it distracts from the content unless the article is controversial or is open to opinion. Many followup comments are off the subject, are posted to promote a product or another website, or are of minimal value in my opinion. Consequently, you waste a lot of time deleting junk comments and responding to silly questions that don’t really deserve a response.

  2. Though many internet sites do not yet have much of a budget to hire professional writers, some do and it’s worthwhile to search those publications out instead of giving away your talent for free to those online publications who don’t value your talent enough to pay for them.

    It’s the old saying “why buy the milk if the cow is free” scenario in automotive journalism these days. It may be tempting to give your articles free to internet publications (looking for “publicity” but as long as they can get them for free they will never pay. There are some publication that do pay for articles and those are the ones we should be seeking as a place to send work.

  3. One additional comment I’d like to make is this: If you can’t find a publisher who will pay you for your work, or pay you what you think you are worth, become your own publisher. Starting a magazine these days is not for the faint of heart, and it takes a financial backer with deep pockets and lots of advertising support to keep a magazine afloat. So the only viable alternative for an out-of-work or underemployed automotive writer these days is to start up a website. The cost is minimal, and it does take effort. But if you create good content, you’ll get viewership — and hopefully enough advertising revenue via Google ads, affiliate ads, text link ads and display ads to make your efforts worthwhile.

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