LAST CALL: 20/20 has its eye set on automakers

The two-day press preview that precedes the Chicago Auto Show each year is usually full of media parties and auto industry giveaways like free backpacks or model cars.

But things seemed a bit subdued this year as an ABC News' 20/20 camera crew was reportedly on scene for a possible story about how the auto industry is lavishing gifts on reporters while it shuts down plants and lays off workers.

'They've been at every party they could find,' said Paul Brian, SVP and program chairman for the Midwest Automotive Media Association.

But automakers routinely spend millions on their auto show displays to rev up attention from the media and the public. So a few thousand here or there for a giveaway or a party causes hardly a ripple in their budgets.

'When you're bringing out a new product the size of a truck or a car, you have to do something grandiose,' Brian argues. 'This is a group of journalists who've seen everything.' Maybe, but chances are they'll all be watching for that 20/20 report to see who got caught on tape taking one too many quiches at one too many parties.

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