Luxury Coach & Transportation

February 2014

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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96 WWW.LCTMAG.COM LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR FEBRUARY 2014 Martin Romjue News Bugaboos EDITOR'S LETTER I FEBRUARY 2014 WITH THE SOARING ACTIVITY ON in recent years has come a growing appetite for more industry news and information. The world of instant news, e-newsletters and constant linking and posting, however, doesn't avoid some of the constant challenges and questions of publish- ing news, no matter what the format. Those nagging debates about the relevance of some print content ex- tend and persist throughout the digital media realm. I'm posing two situations that arose at LCT last month, bound to come up again and confound even the most experienced editors. After six years as editor of this maga- zine, I have found that the more I get to know this indus- try, the tougher some of these judgment calls become. First situation : Federal authorities abruptly shut down a limousine operation on New Year's Eve over alleged multiple safety violations. A local newspaper reports the shutdown in detail, giving the limo operator ample op- portunity to comment. The case looks suspect, as there are reasonable questions as to whether the shutdown was vindictive overkill by authorities. Second situation: A left-wing website, acting like a main- stream media source, reports on a group of chauffeurs who have f led a federal lawsuit against their employer, a large chauffeured transportation company, alleging they have been cheated out of wages. In this article, the owning operator declined to answer questions right away, and then did not return follow-up phone calls. What's more, a federal judge recently ruled that the orig- inal complaint wouldn't hold up as a collective lawsuit, so a group of chauffeurs re-f led individual lawsuits. Should LCT link to these articles in its mix of ag- gregated e-news content — one or the other or both or none? As much as I'd like to say I can coolly answer such questions with ease, the truth is I have made good use of our magazine advisory board members. Sometimes I call or email in a semi-panic on deadline: "What do you think? Should we run such item? How would operators perceive it — as a helpful FYI item or offen- sive, anti-industry material? Do operators need to know about this?" In my previous career in mainstream media, the answers were simpler: Report the story as factual and fairly as possible, show you contacted both sides for comment, and do your best before deadline. Then, let the chips fall where they may and follow up if needed. No emotions, nothing personal. In the B2B media world that approach doesn't work. Like many B2B media venues, LCT Magazine exists mainly to help limousine operators and their vendors run better businesses. We try to educate in creative, engaging ways, while building a sense of industry community and collaboration. Our established point of view is pro-business and pro-operator. We choose content through that lens. We are here to help, im- prove, inform, and sometimes, entertain. So after getting input and weighing points of view, I did not post either article. But my deciding factors were more immediate, ref ecting the realities, or contexts, of the times we live in. Situation 1 : We live in an era where government at all levels has turned anti-business, or at least indif- ferent to it. The Obama Administration has made life progressively harder for businesspeople via its f scal policies, health care debacle, and hyper-regulatory edicts. (That's what being "progressive" now means). Revenue-hungry local and state governments are ticketing, f ning, and enforcing rules like never before, to boost their coffers. Unions and Wall Street, who can buy inf uence with governments, are being favored over Main Street by many politicians. At the same time, enforcement authorities are churning out press releases on their efforts, trying to show your taxpayer dollars at work. [Those taxpayer dollars also fund generous pensions, health plans and salaries of public sector employees that exceed comparable compensation in the private sector]. In this atmo- sphere, it makes little sense to spotlight or embarrass a local limousine operation that could very well be at the mercy of overzealous enforcers. Why pile on and cooperate with big government? Why not look out for the little guy? Situation 2 : Limousine operators have been plagued with labor-related lawsuits in recent years, often at the behest of unions, consumer groups, left-leaning activists and trial lawyers. While the limousine indus- try is not perfect and may have some rotten apples like any business sector, most of these lawsuits have proven frivolous. So why publicize the efforts of allegedly aggrieved chauffeurs to gain the upper hand with business-owning operators, the besieged bread-n-butter audience of LCT Magazine who we are geared to help? I know those two news decisions could be end- lessly debated, and I'd like to know what you think. This column has been posted at zine. Click on it and opine away. I'd like to close with a quote from National Limou- sine Association President Gary Buffo: "This industry is always under attack." Part of LCT's mission is to provide the tools, the knowledge and the forum to f ght those attacks. We want to stand for those op- erators and business owners who focus on doing the right things: Create jobs, obey laws pay taxes, help communities and charities, and provide the safest, most valued, and best ground transportation service ever invented. L I M O _ 0 2 1 4 e d i t o r . i n d d 9 6 LIMO_0214editor.indd 96 1 / 2 1 / 1 4 1 2 : 1 2 P M 1/21/14 12:12 PM

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