Is EV+PV too weird for The New York Times?

volt-under-solar-canopyeditors-blog-entry3A few months ago, I got excited because I thought the mainstream media were starting to get it. I found a story in the L.A. Times about solar-charged driving and another in The New York Times.

Not so fast, Christof.

This week, America’s two biggest flagship newspapers – The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times – both dropped the ball on covering solar-charged driving.

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First, The Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ ran a feature story on New Jersey MINI E – and solar-charged driver – Tom Moloughney. Moloughney’s become a veritable media star, having had stories about him published in two major New Jersey newspapers and having been interviewed by major European news media organizations such as Der Spiegel. He’s even got a soon-to-be-published story about himself upcoming in USA Today.

[Pat on the back: We beat many of the big boys to Tom, publishing a story about him back in April.]

WSJ story on solar-charged driver doesn’t mention solar
The WSJ feature on Tom was well done. But it didn’t once mention how Moloughney fuels his MINI E — with an 8.8 kW home solar system.

Now, The New York Times.

Last Friday, The Times ran a piece on the difficulty the EPA is having figuring out how to rate the mileage of plug-in cars like the Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF.

tom-moloughney-mini-solarThe paper ran one picture with the story: A photo of a Chevy Volt parked under the shade of a solar-powered EV charging station. But – get this – The Times did not identify the structure as a solar carport. Instead, it ran the following caption under the photo: “Chevrolet expects its Volt model, above, to have a label with multiple fuel-economy figures.”

Now, let’s see: Two major newspapers, two stories about plug-ins, one about a plug-in driver who runs his car on sun, and the other with a photo that literally shows another plug-in plugging into the sun – and neither one mentions solar!

What’s going on?

Is solar-charged driving too weird?
After negativity, and celebrity, novelty is the most powerful news value. Clearly, electric cars that can be — and, in fact are being — fueled by solar are extremely novel.

Yet still no bites on solar-charged driving from The WSJ and The NYT.

Could it be that solar-charged driving is too “out there”?

Well, The WSJ story on Moloughney goes out of its way to cast him as an “ordinary person.”

Solar-charged driving’s got everything a good story should have: novelty, conflict (solar and other renewables vs. oil), and tremendous relevance to everyday people, many of whom could achieve near total fueling independence by plugging into the EV+PV combo.

As for the photo of the Volt under the solar-powered EV charging station that The NYT ran?

The Times pulled the shot directly from GM’s public relations web site (where the structure was clearly identified as a solar carport). What could be more mainstream than GM, and a GM web site?

Maybe The WSJ and The NYT think that only the car – and not the fuel that powers it – matter? But then again, The NYT story was about, well, you know – fuel economy.

Do mainstream journalist know about EV+PV?
Or maybe WSJ and NYT reporters and editors are almost completely unaware of the fact that, yes, electric vehicles can run on sun? Possible, but it seems unlikely.

Or maybe The NYT thought it would be obvious to readers who read the story that the Volt was under a solar carport? If that’s the case, The Times is way off base. I bet 99 percent of people who saw the photo had no idea the structure was a solar-powered EV charging station.

Or maybe The WSJ and The Times simply don’t think solar-charged driving is a “good” story? Of course, it’s got everything a good story should have: novelty, conflict (solar and other renewables vs. oil), and tremendous relevance to everyday people, many of whom could achieve near total fueling independence by plugging into the EV+PV combo.

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In fact, it’s kind of difficult to figure out why The WSJ and The NYT ignored solar-charged driving in two separate cases in which it was literally right in front of their eyes.

Ultimately, I’m guessing that a big part of this is that EV+PV hasn’t yet been accepted in the larger mainstream journalist consciousness as something that should be written about, or, apparently, even pointed out.

That’s too bad.

On the other hand, if lots of mainstream journalists were already paying attention to solar-charged driving and giving it the press it deserves, we, meaning SolarChargedDriving.Com, might not have the exciting if also, at least for now, pretty challenging opportunity we have right now: Awakening the world – including its flagship media outlets – to the revolutionary potential of solar-charged driving.


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