Edmunds.com Hosts Society of Professional Journalists Event: "Covering the Automotive Industry"
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — June 21, 2010 — The award-winning headquarters of Edmunds.com hosted the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) event on June 17 entitled "Covering the Automotive Industry." Panelists were Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl, Hyundai Motor America Communications VP Chris Hosford, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. VP of External Communications Mike Michels, and USA Today auto writer Chris Woodyard. The panel was moderated by freelance journalist and SPJ secretary Richard Saxton.
Mr. Anwyl provided attendees with a sneak peek at some of the automotive trends that the Edmunds.com data team is currently studying. For example, he shared that fleet sales have recently been unusually high because of spending triggered by the federal stimulus package. He warned that when these purchases slow down soon, a sales downturn is inevitable. Many news sources will then report that the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) has fallen without noting the actual buying behavior that caused the sales decline. Unseasonably high incentive offerings and other unusual offerings that shift consumer psychology also undermine the accuracy of the SAAR, but reporters tend to cover SAAR as a simple black and white picture of industry health — a practice that is often misleading and potentially damaging to consumer confidence.
This may be a perfect example of a key point that Chris Hosford made at the event: the auto industry — like cars themselves — is quite complex, so there's rarely a simple answer to issues that may seem basic. He also pointed out that journalists shouldn't forget the importance of current technologies despite the allure of future technologies.
Mike Michels presented the crowd with a list of ten points worth knowing about the auto industry, including "Autos are everyone's business" — by which he means that the auto industry affects the economy in many more ways than the average person — or reporter — may realize. He also discussed recalls, and acknowledged that government regulations regarding timing often result in a recall announcement taking place before a fix is determined, causing potential confusion and uncertainty for consumers and dealers.
Chris Woodyard, the only writer on the panel, expressed concern about journalistic ethics relating to automotive coverage. He also asserted that a critical part of being an automotive writer is taking very complex issues and breaking them down for readers so that they can understand and draw value from those issues.
Edmunds.com's Santa Monica, Calif. headquarters has earned the BusinessWeek/Architectural Record award, an international prize that honors the architects and clients who best utilize design to achieve strategic objectives.
About Edmunds.com, Inc. (http://www.edmunds.com/about/)
Edmunds.com Inc. publishes four Web sites that empower, engage and educate automotive consumers, enthusiasts and insiders. Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.edmunds.com, makes car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and otherwise on the go. InsideLine.com is the most-read automotive enthusiast Web site. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.insideline.com, features the wireless Web's highest quality car photos and videos. CarSpace is the most established automotive social networking Web site. AutoObserver.com provides insightful automotive industry commentary and analysis. Edmunds.com Inc. is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow Edmunds.com on Twitter@edmunds and fan Edmunds.com on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/edmunds.