If Tanner Foust was given the keys to a Volkswagen GTI or Golf R, and told to track it at Willow Springs, all while being filmed by Volkswagen, what do you think the VW-sponsored professional driver would say about it?
Yeah, exactly. Seems CarBuzz either didn’t know or flat-out forgot to mention that Foust is sponsored by VW when it wrote a quick piece on how Foust was touting the virtues of the two cars. A piece that appears to be based on a Volkswagen media release.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I have friendly professional relationships with at least two CarBuzz employees, though I don’t know the author of this piece, and we’ve sometimes cited them as a news source — we’ve not yet had any reason to suspect they aren’t credible.
And in the interest of fairness, it really is possible the author either didn’t know about Foust’s connections to VW, or did and just honestly forget to make mention. It would be unfair of us to accuse CarBuzz of intentionally publishing a piece that reads like advertorial content as news without any evidence.
That said, we can call them out for failing to make mention of Foust’s Volkswagen ties, with the hopes of a correction if it was an honest mistake.
Even the site’s own commenters called them out for the oversight.
We’re not calling CarBuzz out for publishing the piece — we might, on a slow news day (and thus far, today appears to be a very slow news day), pluck that story and reblog it. But we’d mention Foust’s connection to VW and remind you, the reader, that Foust is unlikely to say anything bad, at least publicly, about those cars.
And if we goofed and forgot, we’d correct as soon as possible.
I don’t have any evidence to suggest CarBuzz is in any way biased towards VW. But even assuming they aren’t, a mistake like this can cause that perception. Which is a reminder to journalists to be careful to get facts right and provide necessary context, and a reminder to readers to use critical thinking when consuming content.