How Facebook Is Changing Automotive Journalism Page 2

April 4, 2011

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Whether or not you believe media is fair, most reporters have a grounding and a base of knowledge that helps them find the stories behind the big glitzy social media efforts. Facebook can cut out that middleman completely. It can even co-opt us.

It's just one more sign today's journalists are modern-day Joads, driven to find something better to subsist on--or to die.

Sold on social media, still?

When it's held in a chokehold, social media is nothing more than pure marketing. We've seen some personalities meld with the Big Logo behind them in interesting ways, but most social-media come-ons you'll find when shopping or following cars online is completely filtered and completely messaged.

That's why, in some ways, Facebook car reveals can feel like a big auto show. They're stagey and scripted, drawn out too long, rich on photos and video but short on detail. But at least real auto shows give real journalists the time to hunt down executives for one-on-one interviews, to find new angles, to vet facts.

Facebook is more like launching a movie without a critic's screening--it can smell like a direct-to-DVD piece of dreck.

There's an uneasy peace between the automotive media and social media, for now at least. Most often, we receive background information on embargo, and we're able to do our legwork in time to publish alongside the big social-media push. That's been the case with the introductions we've mentioned here specifically, and it's probably the way most automakers will choose to handle them for the near future.

There's bound to be a break in that truce, and sometime soon, some brand with a crazy-dedicated following will stop meeting the media halfway, and will go it alone.

You may not be sold on media coverage of your favorite brand or car, but auto journalism has a place in the world. You don't have to follow us all, to follow where we're going here, either. Whether it's on a reputable auto Web site or via some huge sharing site, your takeaway needs to be the same.

You need to ask and know, before you buy into it.

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