There’s a War Going On


Some of you might have read my post yesterday on TTAC. I don’t have anything else to say about the gentleman (I don’t want to help his SEO presence any more than I already have) in question or his “work,” as I believe that it speaks for itself.

However, I feel that there’s a gap between what I would call the real writers in this business of automotive writing and the, well…I won’t use the word that Katt Williams would use. I’ll call them the Frauds.

I’m thankful that Mark Stevenson, my Managing Editor, has given me the space on TTAC to mercilessly expose the “writers” who suck on the collective teat of the OEMs for their very sustenance. I was text messaged by no fewer than five writers whose opinions I greatly respect yesterday, all saying that they wished they could do the same. I don’t take that freedom lightly.

I do, however, feel uncomfortable at times with the notion that there are truths that some don’t want to say. If there’s a Fraud out there, writing reviews about cars that are nothing more than copy/paste jobs from the press kits, why shouldn’t he or she be exposed? Why does it take a “Bark” to do it?

I can tell you why. It’s because there are very, very few writers in the automotive space who can craft a story out of thin air. Sam Smith can do it. Obviously, my brother can do it. Alex Roy is a marvelous storyteller. To his credit, Doug Demuro has been able to create quite a following by simply telling stories—all of his car reviews get sold to Autotrader, and they lack any “voice” whatsoever.

Most other writers need a new car to talk about every week, or they die on the vine. I have to write an editorial every Thursday at TTAC. Every single one of those pieces—and I’ve done several dozen now—has been the product of my own diseased and warped mind. I’m incredibly grateful that I had to come up that way in this biz, because it made me a stronger writer.

I’ve never gotten a press car from a fleet—partially because I live in the middle of nowhere, partially because I used to believe it could be a conflict of interest, but mostly because I just don’t want to become a car reviewer. Once you become that, it’s insanely difficult to become anything else.

I’ve done car reviews for Jalopnik, and I’m going to be doing another press event for them next month. I enjoy doing them—who wouldn’t enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to rag out somebody else’s car on track?—but I don’t ever want that to become my “brand.”

The gentleman I wrote about yesterday and his ilk could no more write a compelling story or present a case for change than they could stick to an exercise regimen. When the cars dry up, so do their paychecks.

Of course they’re Frauds. Of course they quote the playbook directly. Because they all know that it could all be taken away from them in an instant—the minute an OEM or a fleet manager decides that they don’t get cars any more, they don’t have a job.

But, damnit, what if they took a stand and decided to give real feedback for once? What if they weren’t afraid to say a car was terrible? What it, with one voice, the Frauds united and said, “We’ve had enough! We’re going to tell the Truth!”

Nah, we all know that won’t ever happen.

But there’s a war going on. Between the real writers and the Frauds. And the Frauds are getting stronger every day. I think it’s time the real writers united, too. Don’t just tell me you support me. Lend your voice and call them out. Travis Okulski did it. Mark Stevenson did it. You can too.


17 Replies to “There’s a War Going On”

  1. Paul Alexander

    I think I know which column you’re eluding to. I don’t understand how dude’s like that get paid. It’s literally just a PR release rewritten by a sophomore high school student taking freshman English for the second time. I don’t even understand the point, like why would anyone reading that garbage not just go to the OEM website? At least you’d be able to actually learn something about the damn cars.

    • Rambo Furum

      Exactly. Every comment of his was loaded with unfiltered personal opinion. There was no hedging or watering down or holding back whatsoever. His statements always had a driven purpose.

  2. Bark M.

    I hope DW comes back into the fold. Whatever his opinion of me, when he’s not unhinged with rage, he’s a valuable contributor.

      • kvndoom

        Hey Jack, Honda just put up the 2017 configurator.

        Just about the same, except now there’s a “Sport Special Edition” that adds leather for $1000. Whoop.

        Color selection on manuals still sucks.

    • Tomko

      What happened to DW?

      I didn’t always like what he had to say – but he is the only TTAC member that I always read.

      Did Johan call out a hit on him?

  3. Nick D.

    I was flabbergasted by Mr. Hypermiler’s recent attempted rebuttals to his felating to a certain OEM on Twitter. Absolutely no shame.

    A bit off topic, but I just finished A.J. Baime’s Arsenal of Democracy about Ford’s Willow Run operation. Larry Webster mentioned on TST’s podcast and it was fascinating. Even working for Ford down the hall from HF I’s own, I learned a great deal about the insane family politics and personalities involved in the Ford empire. Ultimately, it will make you proud to have something with the blue oval on the front.

  4. Mental

    See you in a few weeks, and we need to do that next companion piece.

    I may not be a hack, shill or pussy, but I have no issue riding your coat tails.

  5. jz78817

    I don’t remember if it was you or Jack who recently alluded to “if they can’t be rich, at least this job lets them feel rich for a while.”

    They’ve got a goose which lays golden eggs. Why would they kill it? They’re in this biz for the nice trips, the food, and the bragging rights. I’ve been to a few media events (as a presenter or equipment operator) and have seen it first hand. At one, my (then) employer was sponsoring a raffle of some decent stuff, and I’d say about half of the “journalists” couldn’t have given less of a shit about the cars or their features. They were more interested in what they could take home with them.

    personally I think most of them should go down the garbage chute. The furnace is only lit every other day, so they might get lucky.

    • Ronnie Schreiber

      The funny things is that I started out getting credentials to the big auto shows specifically so I could get press kits and swag to sell on eBay. I don’t do that anymore (but I’m not adverse to getting duplicates of something that’s indeed collectible) and genuinely focus on looking for stories and taking lots of photos and video. Still, because of what I used to do there are autojournos who will always consider me a parasite as they literally belly up to the bar and buffet.

      The best part of any job is getting paid. The second best part of writing about cars is that I get to do things and meet people that I ordinarily wouldn’t get to do, like build a LS9 engine, ask Roger Penske a question, or drive a McLaren. Of course, those experiences provide grist for the writing mill.

      • Shocktastic

        The press-titutes are so easily bought off that it makes reasonable people think that….oh well, 2 minute hate.

  6. Ken

    Though the response was mixed over at TTAC I found the article to be a decent read. Still – the lead was buried and I could see how users got lost in the grammar distractions.

    While good story telling certain helps (the brother’s Baruth, Alex, and even Doug) – I’d rather read truthful honest reviews, even if they aren’t written by the best authors. (Which was the reason I frequented TTAC in the first place years ago.)

    • Bark M.

      The response wasn’t mixed. The detractors were mostly accounts that were created that day. Draw your own conclusions there.

      Also, burying the lede is kinda my thing.

  7. gettingoldercarguy

    On the flip side (!), I think John Davis of Motorweek maintains his integrity by letting manufacturers down easily with their design and production faults. They’re not outright vicious slams, but the message is readily apparent.


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