Saturday, November 05, 2005
This is a follow-up to the Hummer post from a couple days ago. It is intended to provide additional information that may be of interest to those who have taken the time to read the story, and who may have left comments here, or on other message boards.
Satire vs. Investigative Journalism
Many of you seem to think that the Hummer piece was investigative journalism when in fact much of it was satire. The pictures are real and the 52% year-over-year drop in Hummer H2 sales is real (see the first link to the Yahoo! News article) - but other elements are inaccurate or complete fabrications (e.g., Togo's does not have half-off coupons, and if there were coupons to be had, they would be located at the desk of our administrative assistant, not in Human Resources).
The long and the short of it is, we found a parking lot with Hummers lined up just begging for someone to photograph them and put them on the internet, so we did it. The first few paragraphs should have made clear that we were going for the funny, rather than for the well-researched, hard-hitting expose.
We had little idea how many people would end up reading this, and what commentary it would incite.
From a Real Investigative Journalist
Stuart Brown from Fortune Magazine called on Friday, and we had a pleasant conversation about the Hummer photos. With Stuart's permission, the unedited email he sent back to me is provided here without any additional commentary:
TIM ---Site Statistics
I talked to the sales manager at 1000 Oaks Hummer, Steve Gansert, who says all those Hummers do belong to them. He says the 300 trucks are a normal selling inventory for them, that they only have parking for about a dozen trucks right at the dealership, so lease these local parking lots to store their unsold inventory.
Our auto-industry editor tells me that the H3 is selling briskly, but the H2 isn't. A lot of auto dealers try to keep about 45 selling days worth of vehicles in their inventory, so those 300 are a plausible number to keep on hand. We're going to accept that answer.
So Thousand Oaks Hummer may not be the Area 51 of the SUV world. Maybe there's one way out in the Mojave?
A pleasure talking with you---I enjoy yer blog.
--- Stu Brown
On a typical weekday, somewhere between a few hundred and a few thousand people stop by this blog - recently, the average has been somewhere around 500. Since the discussion here is mostly about economics and monetary policy, we don't really expect much more than that and often times wonder why we keep doing this, but that's an entirely different discussion.
Here are the counts of unique visitors to this site since the Hummer story was posted on Thursday:
Saturday: 10,000 (as of 11 AM PST)
By Monday, you'll have forgotten about this blog, but we won't have forgotten about you. As software engineers, we were able to quickly develop a program that kept detailed records of who has been here, for how long, what pages were viewed, and what comments were left.
Next week, we'll begin pairing up pro-Hummer and anti-Hummer commenters in an attempt to make the world a better place - look for mail.
Crossing the Line
This blog seems to have stepped face first into the great American political debate of the early 21st century - now that Instapundit has provided a link, it's turning into a political free-for-all, and I'm being called a tree-hugger and worse, so next time we'll be more careful (the folks from Daily Kos had much kinder things to say).
Clearly a line was crossed with the "metaphor for America" comment - this just sort of slipped out. Maybe we should have let the pictures speak for themselves, but the piece would likely not have gotten the attention that it did, which, on the other hand, may not have necessarily been a bad thing.
Oh well ... it's done.
And, the "W" bumper sticker comment crossed a line too, but there was serious debate between using this and the ones that say "My child was an honor student of the month at ...", and in the end, the "W" bumper stickers were deemed to have more national recognition.
Of course, had we done actual research for this piece, we may have found that the honor student bumper stickers do have national appeal, but then, that may have stirred an entirely different group of dissenters, so in the end, maybe it was best that we didn't do any research.
Commenting on the comments
Here are my favorite comments so far:
Anti-Hummer (via Daily Kos):
can't remember where i saw it, but:
"you're a dentist, not the left leg of voltron!"
Everyone should own a Hummer and piss off peta and tree hugging idots.
(He probably meant idiots, or maybe i-dots, something new?)
Anti-Me (Doctor Memory):
bah, thank you, stupid blogger, for doubleposting
(Doctor Memory was a bit premature, since I am still writing this follow-up, but it hurts all the same.)
Comments have been turned off for this post - if you have anything to add, you'll have to go to the original post.
We hope you'll all come back for next week's titillating economic discussions - wholesale inventories will print on Wednesday, but the big news will be Thursday's report on the trade balance.