Highway None

The weekly Highway 1 section in the Los Angeles Times always skews toward the few who are buying a vehicle and usually has little if any information or fun stuff for the millions of Southern Californians who drive cars. This week's section, though, is beyond thin. There is a full-page Throttle Jockey review of mid-range motor scooters by Susan Carpenter (yes, still the coolest beat at the paper), a Mr. Wheels advice column by Ralph Vartabedian, and six-and-a-half pages of car and truck ads. That's it. Curiously, in front of yesterday's section was an advertising supplement called Luxury Vehicles that ran to twenty pages with nine advertorial "stories" that offered far more content than the journalist-produced section.

Not that the advertorial section was anything to be proud of, emails Steve Parker of The Car Nut website. He is a former Highway 1 contributor who complained to the LAT Reader's Representative that the Saleen pictured on the cover fits no definition of a luxury car .

This glaring error alone makes the rest of the section’s “facts” questionable, at best. The car’s builder, Steve Saleen, whom I have known quite well for over 20 years, has, as far as I know, never referred to the S7 as a “luxurious” or even “comfortable” car. And it is not. I know “It’s only an advertising section”, but this kind of mistake is so fundamental that one has to question everything which follows. Didn’t someone from THE TIMES’ editorial department at least take a quick look at this section in order to protect the paper’s credibility?

Doubtful — the news-ad wall works both ways. Parker also complains that a section glorifying gas-guzzlers "is outrageously irresponsible" today.

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