The Internet has certainly “democratized” publishing. Anyone can start a blog and instantly be a reporter. (Even me.)
As I pointed out yesterday, there is more to being a good reporter than simply having a blog or a column. It also means getting the story right, being skeptical and verifying facts.
This is where brands play a role. They can give consumers a signal as to which media consistently conform to these standards—and which do not.
At least it should work this way.
I have been surprised over the past few days at the level of confusion over the government’s $7,500 tax credit program. Not just among blogs, but traditional media as well. The idea being proposed was that if the government is offering a tax credit of $7,500 to buyers of the Chevy Volt then the government has designated the Volt as an EV.
Obviously these reporters did not check their facts. At its core, the tax credit program is about spurring battery development—not engines. As such, it is largely based on the size of the batteries in a vehicle. The vehicle must have an electric motor, but can also be powered by a gas engine. The Nissan Leaf gets a $7,500 credit. So does the Chevy Volt. The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid also gets a rebate. We are estimating around $2,500—a lesser amount as the vehicle has smaller batteries. Bottom line, this program makes no attempt to limit the credits to EVs.
We issued a press release yesterday to try to clean up the confusion. You can read it here.
If you are interested, you can find a list of all the vehicles that currently qualify for tax credits or other government subsidies here. (The list is longer than you might think.)
Finally, if you want an example of a story that got the tax credit story wrong, you can read one here. (The article also missed that GM does now acknowledge that the gas engine provides power to the wheels in some circumstances.)