Note: This is a reposted blog from our Detroit PR partner, bianchipr.com. For the original post, please see here.
By: Bianchi PR
Audrey LaForest is the Washington, D.C. reporter for Automotive News, where she covers automotive policy and regulation, including auto-related happenings on Capitol Hill, within the Biden administration and across major industry associations.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
The topics I regularly cover are wide-ranging: vehicle safety, investigations and recalls, the regulation — or lack thereof — of new technologies and U.S. trade policy, to name a few. I’m also interested in what’s going on behind the scenes to shape policy that affects the auto industry, and electric vehicles especially have proven to be a major buzzword in this administration.
In the past year, we’ve seen automakers commit billions toward electrification: setting goals for electrifying their portfolios and announcing major investments in EV and battery production in the U.S. President Joe Biden also has set an ambitious goal of half of the new-vehicle sales being zero-emission by 2030 and is pursuing an agenda to help encourage a transition to EVs.
However, automakers have said meeting those goals will require supportive policies at the federal, state and local levels. That includes consumer incentives and additional funding for EV charging stations. Biden’s Build Back Better Act included several measures to support EVs — including a controversial expansion of the EV tax credit — but the package, as is, remains stalled in the Senate. I’m wondering how this will affect the industry’s transition to EVs here: Does it slow the pace? By how much?
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
I joined Automotive News in February 2020 — just weeks before COVID-19 stay-at-home orders were announced in Michigan. I was planning to move to D.C. that June, but by the middle of March our newsroom started working from home, and my move was put on hold. From that point on, the AN editorial team was flung into full-blown crisis reporting mode, often covering breaking news at all hours of the day. The stories I reported on during the start of the pandemic are easily some of the craziest ones I’ve written throughout my career. It really threw me headfirst into the D.C. beat.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
Any story that teaches or tells our readers something new about the industry or this crazy world we live in.
I recently finished a story on the EPA’s new rule on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. The rule is complex, full of little intricacies and, at times, very confusing. Thankfully, my editor gave me the time and space to dig deeper and talk to as many experts and insiders as possible. This is an important regulation for automakers and will influence their electrification strategies, so I’m proud of the story that came together — and also relieved I got it done in time for the deadline.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
Some sort of tension or conflict usually tells me there’s something to chase. If I’m reading a story and more questions pop up, that also means I have some digging to do.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I started working as a full-time journalist in 2013 when I was hired to be the editorial associate at a luxury lifestyle magazine in Detroit after interning for a few months. I got my start as a kid pretending to be “Harriet the Spy.”
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
Running, going to yoga, finishing Haruki Murakami’s “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” and exploring my new home here in the nation’s capital.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
For embargoed news, make sure reporters are given the information as far in advance as possible. It takes time to comb through the information and identify the key elements for our readers.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
I’m not sure how I end up on PR email lists that have nothing to do with my beat coverage. If there’s a way to clean up your lists periodically, please do!
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)
I spent 30-plus years living in metro Detroit and moved to Washington, D.C., in June 2021 with my husband Jeffry, who is a jazz bassist, and our two cats, Charlie and Fiona.
I don’t have a political reporting background, so being able to cover the 2020 presidency through an automotive lens easily has been one of the highlights of my career so far. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to report from D.C. and look forward to all that is to come.