Tesla Motors: Our cars don't burst into flame, but our emails do

'Yellow journalism' 'hysterical' 'scandalous'. OMG


FoTW Here at the Reg it's one of our editorial goals to live in peace and harmony with our fellow men and women, seeking merely to report the news with a minimum of stress and conflict and making the world a better and happier place thereby*.

Thus it is with heavy heart once again that we find that our coverage has inadvertently caused distress, anguish, even violent passionate rage in the breast of a reader, who has thus been motivated to fire up their email client, select flame mode, and allow their thoughts to flow.

In this case the sizzling missive comes from Rachel Konrad, PR for famous battery-car maker Tesla Motors. Yesterday we reported on a Tesla announcement stating that 40 per cent of the Roadsters the firm has manufactured need a certain electrical power cable to be checked and modified, following an incident in which this cable became chafed "causing a short, smoke and possible fire".

We ran this under the headline "Tesla says 40% of its Roadsters may catch fire". This has made Ms Konrad extremely cross:

I realize you are desperate to increase readership, and I know you often take a sensational and scandalous tone on ordinary news, which leads me to blow off most of your posts as yellow journalism (though as a former reporter I hate to attach the word “journalism” at all to what you write). But I draw the line when you malign Tesla’s commitment to customer safety.

To say that “40% of its Roadsters may catch fire” is ridiculous and hysterical even for The Reg.

Ouch - blown off, again! Well, we may be slightly jaundiced journalists, but at least we are still reporters here - we didn't give up, sell out and go over to the dark side (PR). And hey, we were balanced: the subhead said "only a little unimportant fire, though".

Another thing that angered the punchy mouthpiece and journalism critic was our "absurd insinuation that Tesla is being less than 100 per cent transparent about this". We wrote "in a statement posted on its website but not circulated to the press (as is normal with Tesla announcements) ..."

That's a plain and simple statement of fact, however. When Tesla wants hacks to write something up, it emails them, even the despicable yellow ones - as it did in the case of the "range anxiety" kerfuffle a little while back, for instance. We're sure Tesla has been quite scrupulous in keeping its customers and shareholders informed: there's no reason at all why it should also inform the wide world of relatively minor technical faults.

Unless, of course, Tesla was being "100 per cent transparent" - not 99 per cent, not 99.9 per cent, but 100 - and this actually meant what those words are commonly understood to mean outside the world of corporate PR. ®

Bootnote

*Admittedly this particular goal is well down the priorities list below most of our other editorial goals.

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