Industry Research

Bugged By The Limo News

Martin Romjue
Posted on February 4, 2014

With the soaring activity on LCTMag.com in recent years has come a growing appetite for more industry news and information. The world of instant news, e-newsletters and constant linking and posting, however, doesn’t avoid some of the constant challenges and questions of publishing news, no matter what the format. Those nagging debates about the relevance of some print content extend and persist throughout the digital media realm.

I’m posing two situations that arose at LCT last month, bound to come up again and confound even the most experienced editors. After six years as editor of this magazine, I have found that the more I get to know this industry, the tougher some of these judgment calls become.

First situation: Federal authorities abruptly shut down a limousine operation on New Year’s Eve over alleged multiple safety violations. A local newspaper reports the shutdown in detail, giving the limo operator ample opportunity to comment. The case looks suspect, as there are reasonable questions as to whether the shutdown was vindictive overkill by authorities.

Second situation: A left-wing website, acting like a mainstream media source, reports on a group of chauffeurs who have filed a federal lawsuit against their employer, a large chauffeured transportation company, alleging they have been cheated out of wages. In this article, the owning operator declined to answer questions right away, and then did not return follow-up phone calls. What’s more, a federal judge recently ruled that the original complaint wouldn’t hold up as a collective lawsuit, so a group of chauffeurs re-filed individual lawsuits.

Should LCT link to these articles in its mix of aggregated e-news content — one or the other or both or none?
As much as I’d like to say I can coolly answer such questions with ease, the truth is I have made good use of our magazine advisory board members. Sometimes I call or email in a semi-panic on deadline: “What do you think? Should we run such item? How would operators perceive it — as a helpful FYI item or offensive, anti-industry material? Do operators need to know about this?”

In my previous career in mainstream media, the answers were simpler: Report the story as factual and fairly as possible, show you contacted both sides for comment, and do your best before deadline. Then, let the chips fall where they may and follow up if needed. No emotions, nothing personal.
In the B2B media world that approach doesn’t work. Like many B2B media venues, LCT Magazine exists mainly to help limousine operators and their vendors run better businesses. We try to educate in creative, engaging ways, while building a sense of industry community and collaboration. Our established point of view is pro-business and pro-operator. We choose content through that lens. We are here to help, improve, inform, and sometimes, entertain.
So after getting input and weighing points of view, I did not post either article. But my deciding factors were more immediate, reflecting the realities, or contexts, of the times we live in.

Situation 1: We live in an era where government at all levels has turned anti-business, or at least indifferent to it. The Obama Administration has made life progressively harder for businesspeople via its fiscal policies, health care debacle, and hyper-regulatory edicts. (That’s what being “progressive” now means). Revenue-hungry local and state governments are ticketing, fining, and enforcing rules like never before, to boost their coffers. Unions and Wall Street, who can buy influence with governments, are being favored over Main Street by many politicians. At the same time, enforcement authorities are churning out press releases on their efforts, trying to show your taxpayer dollars at work. [Those taxpayer dollars also fund generous pensions, health plans and salaries of public sector employees that exceed comparable compensation in the private sector]. In this atmosphere, it makes little sense to spotlight or embarrass a local limousine operation that could very well be at the mercy of overzealous enforcers. Why pile on and cooperate with big government? Why not look out for the little guy?

Situation 2: Limousine operators have been plagued with labor-related lawsuits in recent years, often at the behest of unions, consumer groups, left-leaning activists and trial lawyers. While the limousine industry is not perfect and may have some rotten apples like any business sector, most of these lawsuits have proven frivolous. So why publicize the efforts of allegedly aggrieved chauffeurs to gain the upper hand with business-owning operators, the besieged bread-n-butter audience of LCT Magazine who we are geared to help?

I know those two news decisions could be endlessly debated, and I’d like to know what you think. You may post comments at the bottom of this online article.

I’d like to close with a quote from National Limousine Association President Gary Buffo: “This industry is always under attack.” Part of LCT’s mission is to provide the tools, the knowledge and the forum to fight those attacks. We want to stand for those operators and business owners who focus on doing the right things: Create jobs, obey laws pay taxes, help communities and charities, and provide the safest, most valued, and best ground transportation service ever invented.

Related Topics: breaking news, business ethics, LCT editor, Martin Romjue

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Jim Baron

     | about 4 years ago

    I think that you should have posted both. If LCT is a "news magazine" for our industry, then you follow your guidelines has you did before. If you make a clear attempt to offer comments from both sides that is fair. It is OK to point out the problems we have. Nothing made me prouder then when Ty B (oh so many years ago) stood at the LCT show and took a very strong stance against unsafe manufacturing of the super stretch magazines. That was what the mag should be doing. It's leadership as well as fair and balanced news reporting.

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