The NY Times is under attack on multiple levels, which isn’t all the newsworthy in itself. What is remarkable is the way this ‘story about a story’ is playing out in the age of social media and empowered people.
Owners join the fight
Today, seven Tesla S owners set out to recreate the test drive performed by the NY Times journalist John Broder. These owners are determined to prove the journalist wrong for what they feel is an unfair review. There story is unwinding on @TeslaRoadTrip.
To bring you up to speed, this is what Broder said in Stalled Out on Tesla’s Electric Highway:
“If this is Tesla’s vision of long-distance travel in America’s future, I thought, and the solution to what the company calls the ‘road trip problem,’ it needs some work”
In a social media volley response, Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote A Most Peculiar Test Drive, calling into question the facts of Broder and coming up with logs that show detailed data about the actual trip the journalist took.
Before we think this is the little guy versus the big media, the Tesla S is a $100K car and these well-to-do owners have their honor (at least their purchasing wisdom) to defend. Regardless, they’re creating new data to compete with the NY Times.
Things will never be the same
What the story shows that goes way beyond who’s right or wrong is the modern role of media and fact-gathering. Broder might have had his feelings about the car, but Tesla has the logs. Broder can talk about seat comfort and subjective things, but Tesla has the braking distance and cabin temperature. A very short time ago, the media gathered and shared the data as a service for their readers.
We saw the same thing just yesterday with the meteor that streaked over Russia, injuring scores as it traveled across the sky at 40,000 mph. The facts were gathered by witnesses and ‘reported out’ two hours before the media could tell the story.
The data is now moving consumer to consumer, company to consumer and in every other way but not necessarily through traditional media. They’ve lost their role of gathering, interpreting and choosing which stories to tell and how. Is that a good thing or bad thing? It really depends on what we gain or lose as time passes. Perhaps the new role of the press is to store event information as it occurs and provide the historical record that was once the history books.
But I doubt that…that doesn’t sound like an economic model they’ll be interested in.