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Cut And Paste Journalism - Tech Scene

Aaron Bonk
Jul 1, 2007

There are two ways I can do my job. Dumb people think it gets done the first way. They're wrong. The second way is hard.

Way No. 1: Open up my inbox and sort through more car-related press releases than I can handle, all of which fit perfectly with Turbo magazine and the content we publish each month. Choose three or four out of this magical cornucopia of marketing and PR - of course, all in descending order in accordance with how much they spend in advertising dollars - and regurgitate the accompanying information in such a way that doesn't make me a plagiarist. I can use all of the provided photography though, that way I don't have to get out of my editorial throne, leave my plush quarters and actually go shoot photos. Oh yea, if the press release says the exhaust system makes 28 hp, I believe them and print that, not because they're nice guys but because they might run an expensive ad with us next month. I have no principles, I can't turn a wrench because of my extra thumbs and I've never actually seen one of those dynamometer things anyways.

Way No. 2: Open up my inbox and sort through a few e-mails from some guy pretending to be PayPal so he can steal my identity, some reader e-mails quick to point out some sort of misappropriated, front bumper, JDM faux pas on my part, and, oh yes, the press releases, which usually consist of truck bed liners and sheepskin seat covers, and, on occasion, some turbo-related bits I might actually be able to use. Unfortunately, such press releases are typically short; they're also usually accompanied with only one or two low-quality images I can use. So much for cutting and pasting. In a scurry to find tech content to ensure myself employment for the next 30 days or so, I make the necessary calls and e-mails to find products and cars you care about. Wary of the ubiquitous 28hp exhaust, I request one to be sent to my office, I mean cubicle. They don't advertise with us and never will, but hey, you want to know about the 28hp exhaust, don't you? Somebody gets mad, but the exhaust shows up anyways. I sift through a stack of business cards to try and figure out which shop I can get to do the installation for me and then I remember what happened last time I relied on a shop to do the installation for me. I also remember I've been a mechanic since before I could vote and my garage is better than some of these shops. The exhaust fits okay. Time to reaffirm that 28 hp and write my article. I take the car to the dyno. Flexing my editorial muscle amounts to little so I strap the car down myself and make a few passes. It reads: 6 hp. I reconfirm I wasn't a victim of the old tennis ball in the exhaust prank and drive away from the dyno 22 hp short of the exhaust guys' claim. The exhaust guys reassure me something's wrong and urge me to go ahead and print their dyno data instead. They're even nice enough to offer me the press release again in case I lost it. I don't. I give them the option to either run the article with my dyno results or scrap the article altogether. More people mad. What I walk away with: a couple hours of mechanical labor in my garage, wasted dyno time, a couple of scrapes and burns on my arm and no article. Only 29 days left.

At least you can't accuse me of cutting and pasting.

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By Aaron Bonk
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