Media Moves

NY Times' opus on Ford Motor misses auto industry's main ailment

July 17, 2006

Eric Weiner, writing on The Huffington Post, notes that the Sunday business section story about the problems at Ford Motor Co. fails to address the main problems at auto companies — funding for pensions and health insurance.

1957 owner's manualWeiner writes, “What an incredible waste of space and, as is far too typical in the press these days, a blown opportunity to do some quality journalism that addresses the real financial issues facing this country.

“The story opens with an ostentatiously over-written description of William Ford’s office that proves one thing — the reporter was granted access to William Ford’s office. And it continues along those superficial lines for an astonishing length. Essentially it concludes that Ford’s problems were caused by a failure to adapt to more fuel efficient technologies and a lack of innovation in design. Nothing we haven’t heard before.

“But roughly a third of the way through the story there’s a startling quote from respected auto industry consultant John Casesa on the future prospects of Ford and General Motors: ‘Both these companies could fail. That’s how fundamental the problems are in Detroit.’

“Why are the problems in America’s auto industry so urgent all of a sudden? The designs coming out of Detroit have been lackluster for decades. So the recent shift in driving fashion from gas guzzlers to fuel efficiency has these companies on the brink of ruin? How many people do you actually know who’ve traded in their SUV for a Prius? And the last time I checked there still was a strong demand for pickups and other trucks, which are enormously profitable for U.S. automakers.”

Read more here. It’s an excellent critique.

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