As y’all may have noticed, we don’t follow any sort of posting schedule here at the Green. Yes, it’s true that we should be posting everything at 11:00 Eastern time on Mondays and Tuesdays for maximum traffic, but since the total lifetime revenue generated by this site is slightly less than one cent, it really doesn’t matter. The result of this is that I often don’t read all the comments on each post, because they sometimes trickle in days later due to the fact that we might go a day or two without a new post from time to time.
That being said, there is a comment that I want to address, and I want to ensure that it doesn’t get buried in the comments section on a post from two weeks ago. The comment, from Duong Nguyen on the “Green Heck” Weekly Roundup, goes a little something like this:
This Lotus and Acura drives are really stepping a wee bit close to the journasar buffet line for my taste… I mean Bark is mentioning Acura PR flacks in his instagram posts and Jack gets a free ride in a one off Lotus painted in his favorite car color? I just don’t see how these things don’t influence what gets written.
I’ll still keep reading, just wanted to point this out. I know there’s not really an ideal way around it.
Excellent comment/point/statement. And as one of the more vocal critics of the “journosaur buffet line” culture, myself, I think it requires an answer.
In my day job, I’ve always tried my best to adhere to the following axiom when it comes to my employees: “I will be friendly with all of you, and friends with none of you.” Despite this, I have had the personal pain of disciplining and terminating people I genuinely liked and cared for, knowing that my actions were probably preventing them from paying the rent that month. It sucks. But it’s what professionals do.
But even though, on occasion, I have the privilege of writing for literally the biggest automotive-oriented audiences in the world, it’s not my job. So I’m a little more flexible, I suppose. I’ll say that I am not particularly chummy with many on the PR side of this business. In fact, I’m banned from attending more events than I will ever be invited to. I have a tendency to be overly negative when reviewing cars, and those negative reviews, even of rental cars, have given more than one manufacturer cause to strike my name off the list. Twice now, I’ve been asked by an outlet to attend a press event only to be told later that I was “uninvited” once the OEM was informed that I was attending. When I DO go to events, I mostly stay to myself and go to bed early.
And I’m completely okay with that. In fact, I consider it somewhat of a badge of honor. I agree that there’s a bit of a gray area that’s difficult to define there—at what point does accepting another glass of red wine make you beholden to the PR “flacks?” After all, for the most part, PR people are like the employees of gentlemen’s clubs—they’re only pretending to be nice to you because it benefits them financially to do so, and it’s equally painful to watch the writers from some of these outlets cling desperately to the idea that “she really, really likes me!”
However, when it comes to the folks at Acura/Honda, I’m not ashamed to say that I really feel like I am personal friends with many of them. And it’s probably not a stretch to say that this friendship, combined with my access to a large audience at Jalopnik and my modicum of driving ability, ensured that I was one of only five writers invited to drive the NSX GT3 a couple of weeks ago. It’s only human nature to surround yourself with people whom you like and respect, and I like and respect Matt, Jessica, and Allie from Acura, and I’d also like to think that the feeling is mutual.
I’m not naive enough to think that should Patrick and the crew at Gizmodo Media or Travis and R&T.com decide that they are no longer desirous of my services that I’d be invited to Acura/Honda events “just because.” However, I’m also pretty sure that if I were to have negative things to say about an Acura/Honda product, that the Honda peeps would say, “that’s fair.” Frankly, I just haven’t had many negative things to say about them yet. I’ll be behind the wheel of another Honda product very soon and I plan to give it an honest, thorough review, regardless of any friendship that may exist.
Because, you know, that’s what professionals do.