The newly elected president of the Southern Auto Media Association, Paul Borden, got a late start in auto writing. And because his dad, an insurance salesman, didn’t welcome the risks that came with a teenage driver, Borden didn’t bring the lifelong passion or gear head’s knowledge to the craft when he did start writing about cars. It was his considerable journalism experience that earned him a shot. He’s found it fascinating and says if he knew starting out what he knows now he would have had a tough time choosing between auto and sports writing, the latter his forte for years.
Fortunately for him and his readers he doesn’t have to. In addition to writing car reviews for the monthly Miami Times and two web sites, he covers home games of the Miami Hurricanes’ football and basketball teams. He reports on the latter for the online news service, SportsXchange. That, of course, is deadline writing, something he became used to while writing first for his Indiana hometown paper, the Vincennes Sun-Commercial followed by the Bloomington, Ind. Herald-Tribune where he was assistant sports editor. His career was interrupted by four plus years active duty as a Naval Reserve officer. He returned to sports writing after his military service, working at the Louisville Courier-Journal and later, as sports editor for daily newspapers in Jackson, Miss. and Little Rock, Ark.
Moving to the copy desk at the Miami Herald, he became a friend of the late Terry Jackson, who had spent most of his newspaper career as an auto writer. That led to an invitation from Jackson to join him 10 years ago at the then promising Auto World Magazine being launched by AMI. When Borden acknowledged he had no auto writing background except for some auto races he had covered, Jackson assured him it was his writing and editing experience that made him valuable. Others would handle the tech-specs side. Borden finds that works for him long after the magazine’s demise. “I take a journalist approach to auto writing and look at cars the way consumers do. ‘How does it feel?’ ‘How’s the vision?’ I do include 0 to 60 because that’s important for entering freeways.” Borden expresses some frustration with the technology in new cars he reviews. “Some of them you have to have a PhD to change radio stations.” And, he has an on-going campaign to get Mercedes-Benz to change its cruise control lever so he doesn’t hit it when he goes for the turn signal. Otherwise, he is sanguine about the future of auto writing, believing niche writers in general and smaller localized publications will fare best over time.
He helped found SAMA three years ago and feels good about its growth. It has attracted many members who serve Caribbean and South American markets as well as members serving consumers in South Florida and beyond. The association sponsors an annual “Rides n Smiles” event at Homestead-Miami Speedway that benefits Baptist Hospital and in addition to its a monthly luncheon programs, holds a special breakfast/lunch to kick-off the South Florida International Auto Show. To this, Borden hopes to have a “Green Vehicle” event in the spring.