Wheels: The New York Times’ New Auto Blog

auto_blog_patheticness.jpgJust when it seemed like congestion pricing proponent Carolyn Curiel and Portland native David Shipley were helping to steer the the New York Times in a greener more urban environmentally aware direction, the Times launches Wheels, their new Auto Blog. Its mission: Cover the Detroit Auto Show and help drivers and auto enthusiasts know new cars to watch for and which new concept car that is turning heads.

New York Times reporter Ezra Dyer, pictured right, is the man assigned to make that happen. Towards that end, he plays a Jeep bongo at the Daimler-Chrysler party and muses on the journalistic ethics of accepting party favors from automakers:

I imagine there are practical considerations for the journalists who walked away with the "Jeep" drums. I know I didn’t allow for bongo-sized extra space in my luggage when I packed. And once you do get your bongo home, what are you going to do with it? Take up bongoing on a regular basis? Maybe find a friend with a steel drum? Perhaps someone will use his bongo drum to torment the fellow denizens of the Holiday Inn Express later on tonight.

Too bad Keith Bradsher is too busy doing great journalism. He’d be an awesome blogger for Wheels and I’d love to see him with a lampshade on his head.
  • P

    I guess when bikes begin selling for sixty thousand dollars we can look forward to a New York Times supplement on bicycling…

  • I can’t seem to find the source right now, but bicycles have out sold cars for the second year in a row. This obviously refers to units not dollars, but does mean that more people purchased new bikes tha new cars, which hasn’t happened since the 1970’s.

  • I’m a committed cyclist and safe streets advocate. But, I am also a long-time auto enthusiast (and Ezra Dyer fan). So, I have very mixed feelings about the Wheels blog. I confess that during my bike commutes, I sometimes fantasize about owning a cool car that I see, though I promise that I do not fantasize about commuting in it, except if it’s really cold and raining.

    There’s really just one explanation for the Wheels blog: newspapers need automotive editorial content to wrap lucrative auto ads around.

    Regardless of the general merits of the Wheels blog, it did contribute this irony meter-blowing gem: Daimler/Chrysler gave the saved-a-guy-from-subway-death hero a new Jeep.

    Savor it.

  • Oh, and he got a free parking pass for a year.

    Savor it again.

  • ddartley

    In Korean, “bongo” means “fart.” Appropriate for cars.

  • brent

    This blog is good news. It is concrete proof of the Time’s commitment to automobile culture. Also, I find it very hard to dialogue with motorists in the public realm because (one) they dominate it. (Two) They are isolated from the rest of us in a glass and metal pod and can only be seen in the flesh in the mysterious world of surface parking lots. And (three) they tend to be impatient, must always be in motion, and aggressive road rage can lead to them using their car as a 3 ton weapon when confronted. The blog may be a good forum to examine and discuss this topic with non-like minded people. By the way, if it wasn’t for the SUV ads in the auto section, the Sunday Times would cost $12!

  • How on earth did newspapers fund themselves before automobiles were invented?

  • brent

    Adam- back then there was a healthy small business community.

  • someguy

    Yes, selling snake oil 🙂

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Thanks for the tip, Sean. I posted a comment on that story to the effect of “Hey, he does a good deed in the subway and this Vines guy’s first thought is to take him out of the subway?” Hopefully he’ll sell the Jeep and use the money for a nice vacation.

  • Steve

    I can certainly can appreciate the suggestions above that the media are institutionally corrupt insofar as they are sustained by the advertising dollars of those they purport to objectively report upon. But Aaron’s point about the ethical question raised when a journalist” accepts gifts from an entity that he is purportedly “covering” should not get lost in that general analysis. I’ll concede that it is probably the case that journalists covering trade shows have traditionally observed relaxed ethical standards. And perhaps the Times feels the usual rules should not apply because this coverage a styled a “blog” and it is supposed to be “fun.” But to me, that illustrates one of the dangers of the blurring of blogs and more traditional media.

    You might think that “Wheels” carries its own remedy for this ill because commenters can remark right under the picture that it is questionable for journalists to accept gifts from the objects of their coverage. But I notice that no such a comment appears there–perhaps because of the Times’ policy that “Comments are moderated and will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. They may be edited for length and clarity. For more information see our Member Agreement.”

    The fact is, transportation is a highly politicized issue. I checked the Wheels blog today and learned that the auto journalists attending the show voted the Saturn Aura–the flagship sedan of a line of supposedly “environmentally conscious” vehicles offered by Saturn–the best sedan of the year. However you can tell from the relative size of the tags based on their usage (right hand column here: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/ ) that there is a lot more coverage of SUVs on this site than of “green” vehicles. I don’t think “green” vehicles are very important in the grand scheme of things, but I would expect Wheels to give balanced coverage to them, rather than shamelessly promoting of Jeep because it gave some bongos out to reporters.

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    youre just too awesome. I love what youve got here, love what youre saying and
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