Following last week’s dust up between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and John Broder of the New York Times, several reporters from other news organizations and Tesla enthusiasts recreated Broder’s ill-fated trip between Washington, D.C. and Boston. Peter Valpes-Dapena, writing for CNN Money, took the trip successfully, though “not without some anxiety” that he too would need rescue from a tow truck. “In the end, I made it,” he writes, “and it wasn’t that hard.”
Not that hard – that’s what Tesla owners said, too. Six of them set out over the weekend to take the drive and livetweeted their trip (#TeslaRoadTrip), sending updates about everything from their speedto temperatures both inside and outside the car. Several other Tesla owners joined for legs of the journey: as many as a dozen Model S cars cruised up the New Jersey Turnpike and other areas of the Northeast corridor. The drivers took video footage and photos along the way, livestreaming as they approached the Milford, CT, supercharging station (where Broder’s car ran out of juice).
Attempting to sort out the charges and countercharges, the New York Times Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote a post calling Broder out for not practicing “good judgment” and criticizing his “casual and imprecise notes,” though rejecting Musk’s charges of bad faith reporting. Techdirt noted that businesses and individuals can now reach audiences as large or larger than many traditional media sources on their own, and can “fact check” on their own. In the end, this became about more than the trip itself. It became a story about journalistic standards, and how technology – in the car, and in social media – might challenge the old admonition never to pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.