By: Dave Astor
The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk has dropped a popular syndicated car column that was the subject of complaints by local auto dealers.
It’s “Click and Clack Talk Cars” by Tom and Ray Magliozzi, who appear in more than 300 newspapers via King Features Syndicate.
After E&P was tipped off to the cancellation, a reporter called Alecia Swasy, a deputy managing editor at The Virginian-Pilot. She said “the newsroom wasn’t consulted” about the dropping of “Click and Clack,” and referred E&P Online to Dee Carpenter, the paper’s president and publisher.
Carpenter confirmed the cancellation, and said several local auto dealers — and he himself — had been bothered by the “irreverent” car column at the times it “went over the top” during the past couple of years. “Sometimes it’s very funny, and sometimes it isn’t,” said Carpenter. But the president/publisher emphasized that the key to the dropping decision was that the column appeared in an advertiser-supported automotive section (running every Friday in The Virginian-Pilot) that’s basically produced for car dealers.
Other sections of the paper can publish material that might upset advertisers, said Carpenter. “We have run stories critical of the automotive industry,” he told E&P. “And the business section ran a story about how to buy a home without using a Realtor. Some Realtors were upset, but that’s life.”
Carpenter said “Click and Clack” still runs in some other publications (including ones for military bases) affiliated with The Virginian-Pilot.
Doug Berman, executive producer of the Magliozzis’ column and radio show, said newspapers have the right to choose whether or not to run a feature. “But we’re obviously disappointed when anyone drops our column,” added the Massachusetts-based Berman. “Our job is to tell the truth as we see it. Enlightened papers know that’s the way to draw readers — which is what everything else, including advertising, is based on.”