Auto journalists are flown around the world for free to test cars. It's an amazing gig. But some of them are disappointed that car companies aren't giving out free swag for them to remember these business trips. Not vacations. Seriously. This is despicable.
There's a secret, invite only, insufferable group on Facebook called "Automotive Industry." Most auto journalists are members, and the discussions are usually trite, meaningless pablum like the food being bad at the Kia Sorrento event or self-serving announcements on how they're moving from The St. Louis Tribune to The St. Louis Star.
It's nothing crazy, but it's frequently a good hate read.
But then there are other times, where auto journalists go from nice, slightly boring people into the worst kind of entitled assholes who believe their entire career is a vacation funded by the companies that they write about. That's the thread that popped up last night.
So yeah, Noah Joseph of Autoblog wants the people who flew him to the event, put him up in a gorgeous hotel, fed him, and gave him a car to drive to also provide him with free memorabilia to remember the trip. It's not out of the ordinary for automakers to give a little something out on these trips (Full Disclosure: All of us at Jalopnik have definitely accepted a little gift on a trip at some point), but what is out of the ordinary is to be so entitled that you express disappointment when automakers aren't giving you something to remember a trip by.
What's better/worse? Fellow autojournalists feel the same way.
Yes, there is a lot of flip sarcasm on here, but, as Road & Track contributor and friend of Jalopnik Mallory McMorrow notes, there also isn't any outrage of any sort. Nobody seems to find a request like this out of the ordinary.
Barely anyone here is saying that this is bullshit. Nobody tells them to find an actual story. The suggestion to open your own damn wallet and buy a souvenir isn't seriously proffered. The idea that you should be thankful that you have one of the most desired jobs amongst gearheads isn't really acknowledged.
And that's when you look again at some of the comments that are meant as "jokes" and you start to wonder... are they really joking?
Like, if an Apple Watch were offered by an automaker, how many of these folks would turn it down? If the airline mileage system changes make it tougher for people to cash in miles for their own vacations, will they just stop traveling for their jobs?
I've seen journalists go to lunch without a PR person, eat the whole meal, and then wait for the PR person to show up just to pay and so the journos don't have to worry about ever being out of cash. I joked on Twitter earlier about forcing a PR person to buy me swag if none was provided, and someone replied that she'd actually seen it happen.
This sort of behavior isn't out of the ordinary for many members of the automotive press.
It's just more evidence that some in this industry aren't necessarily concerned with giving you the truth, getting a scoop, or really any sort of impressions of a car that aren't a reworded press release with a few bad analogies thrown in. They're interested in decorating their own homes with model cars, free meals, and vacations paid for by airline mileage earned by Hyundai flying you to drive the new Santa Fe.
No, auto journalism isn't a perfect business . Free, automaker paid trips are pretty much the only way to get tests of cars done before they go on sale. And if that didn't happen, then the automakers would have to pay to send the cars to you. There's no way around it, and it's something that many in the business have come to accept and work with in a productive way that creates value for the reader, the publication, and the automaker.
But then there's the ugly side. The side that complains about the free food instead of buying their own. The side that vehemently complains when a certain press car becomes unavailable instead of driving their own or renting something. And the side that complains when the automakers aren't doing enough to make your free business trip memorable by giving you a memento.
Give me a fucking break. This is a job. Treat it like one.