Bankrupt Journalism? Detroit Auto Show Swag Once Again on eBay

Deadline Detroit has documented this sordid practice before. But it’s still jarring and depressing to see attendees at the media week portion of the Detroit Auto Show try to make a few, extra, unethical bucks.

eBayDetroitAutoShowSwagBy all, shiny appearances, this is a hybrid model of auto journalism, wherein an individual gets some mileage from the materials for story purposes and more via the auction block. It’s possible that some, maybe even all of the highlighted sellers possess “backdoor” media credentials, e.g. their badge says Press even though they’re not really active in the byline trenches. But many would argue, same difference. From Alan Stam’s item:

[A scale model and Pewabic tile from Chrysler] went on eBay Monday night, drawing six bids so far. The same seller is peddling eight other giveaways from the 2014 North American International Auto Show, open only to credentialed professionals through Friday.

Five profiteers peddle red die-cast models of the new Corvette Stingray, including a Royal Oak opportunist who starts bidding at $75 and offers a $150 buy-it-now option. He’s undercut by a Waterford seller who sets a $50 opening bid and $125 buy-it-now level.

There have not yet been any actual media stories put up for sale. But wouldn’t it be a trip if in connection with a not-too-distant future Auto Show, some cutely handled eBay user started off his pitch with: “Winning bidder will get to dictate all five W’s for one select, prominently displayed product-driven story of no less than 750 words…” For all we know, maybe somebody already has.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.