Real Automotive Journalists: Past and Present. Why do we read what they have to say, and trust them? Editorial, by Dicken Wear.
(This is the question that got me thinking. Posted by: Gary Grant on Facebook.)
There has been much discussion here about what constitutes an automotive journalist. Or an automotive writer, or reviewer, or whatever....My question is, do you think a journalism degree is more important than actual automotive experience? Can a 22 year old journalism school grad who has barely driven, has owned one car at most and never stepped foot in a shop or dealership, be considered an automotive expert? Gary Grant.
And here are my thoughts on that question. I would say that a Journalism degree is helpful, but knowledge of Automobiles, some sort of real experience in the Automotive Industry, as a Driver, Mechanic, Engineer, Designer, Crew Person, or maybe as a Race Official would surely be an important requirement. There are far too many people these days that get jobs as PR people, writers, or reporters doing stories about automobiles now that have no real understanding of the automotive industry, and automobile design.
We had a ranking officer in the largest automotive media group in the USA that did not know who Brock Yates was. Now I never met William Shakespeare or Ernest Hemingway, but I knew who they were. We have lost Chris Economaki, David E Davis, Dick Dixon, John Fitch, and Jon Knapp. Some we all knew, some a few of us knew well. But what made them readable and credible was we knew they knew what they were talking about. Brock Yates, Csaba Csere, Rich Ceppos, Pat Bedard, Aaron Robinson, John Reite, Wes Raynal, Mark Vaughn, John Dinkel, Tom Cotter and Aaron Robinson are real Automotive Journalists and Authors, that have a real Automotive knowledge most based on years of designing, building, fixing, racing, testing real automobiles. Where will the next Brock Yates or Csaba Csere come from?
Honda has a TV commercial that states, anyone can have a Blog. Sadly this is true. Time magazine will stop being a printed publication at the end of this year. The Media World is changing daily. New Media (as my colleague Edmund Jenks calls it) is the future. Internet based publications, newsletters, updates are all used by AutoWeek, Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, etc. And all use the Internet to get the latest news out to its subscribers. Time Magazine becomes an Internet Publication next year. Soon other Paper and Ink Publications will transition to the Internet. One day new publications will start online and have their entire presence Internet based. Some of the best Karting Publications once paper & ink, mailed to subscribers and members of Race Series have been converted to e-publications only. Automotive Publications change often, and in some cases it for the better. But if all good Automotive Publications go from paper and print to online publications, what will we read at the Doctors offices, Discount Tire stores, and on Southwest Airline flights?
So while the world of Automotive Media has changed, will continue to change over the years, the changes will come more often and sooner than in the past. But the one thing that should not change, is where we get our Automotive Journalists. They should come from MIT, Chrysler, NASCAR, USAC, Service Departments, Race Teams, and years of love for the cool cars. Hot Rods, Muscle Cars, Sports Cars, Exotics, 4X4 Trucks and all the rest. Larry McReynolds, Brian Till, Chris Neville, Tommy Kendall, and Sam Posey are the guys who know what's real, they know all the players, drivers, crews, series, sponsors and the fans. These are the guys we want to tell us the stories, take the pictures, and keep the history alive. I'm not sure if they all have Degrees in Journalism, but these are the guys we need to tell us what's real and good. Maybe a good automotive journalist is a person that can talk to the newsmakers, watch the crews and drivers, take the pictures, listen to their stories and write it all down. But then again if you don't know what it takes to drive, what it takes to build them, fix them and race them, how will you ever know if what they tell you is the truth?
(All this from a question I saw posted on FB).
Dicken Wear 12/12/2012