My return to the Fourth Estate

When I left my job as General Motors beat writer at the Detroit News in 2005 to start, then, DaimlerChrysler’s first blog, I figured it was maybe a year’s break from news. But the company made it too good for me to leave by creating a digital media team and put me in charge of it. It was a great run and as many of you know, I retired from the company at the end of July. But I wasn’t quite ready to completely withdraw from the working world. My goal had always been to finish out my career back in news and I’m thrilled to announce I start today as a part-time video reporter for the Automotive News. This way I’ll be able to resume covering the most fascinating, unpredictable and vital industry with a premier news organization while remaining semi-retired.

The Automotive News has a special place in my heart. When I was laid off from CNN in 2001 after almost 20 years I found that local TV stations in Detroit were not interested in an ex-network guy and I did not want to move my family since my kids were still in school. I decided to contact Ed Lapham, the editor of the Automotive News, whom I’d interviewed many times on CNN as an industry analyst. Print people are generally skeptical of the writing abilities of broadcast journalists but Ed made me a deal. I could write some stories as a freelancer as a sort of audition. If I passed the test, perhaps there would be full time job for me. I passed the test after 6  or 7 stories but alas, there were no open positions. The experience, however, gave me confidence I could function well in the print world. One day I got a call from the Detroit bureau chief at the Associated Press who was looking for a new national auto writer. He too, wasn’t sure a TV guy could hack it in the print world but the Automotive News clips I provided sealed the deal. A little over a year later, the Detroit News recruited me for the GM beat writer job. I can say with great candor that without the chance given to me at the Automotive News my post-CNN/broadcast life might have been very different, and certainly not as lucrative.

It’s now such a pleasure and honor to come full circle in the late stages of my career and be able to be part of the Automotive News team. This time it will be an opportunity to combine my print and broadcast skills. How much more perfect can that be?


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