The Tom-Tom Gary Grant

Gary Grant speaks up for the new media in this month’s Tom-Tom. He grew up around auto racing and spent 23 years on the retail and repair side of the industry. His automotive media work began in Toronto in 2002 as radio show’s Toronto guest host. He began TheGarageblog.com in 2005. 


Why Traditional Print Media Sucks

A few months ago, a colleague mentioned that he wanted to introduce me to a friend who’s a big fan of the magazine, and a real car/life enthusiast. I’ve heard this offer before — that person is usually a longtime reader who just wants to talk about his favorite old cars — so I politely dismissed the request. And besides, he lives in Chicago, far away from Los Angeles, even farther for someone who hates the cold. No chance. ”  Sam Mitani in the May 2009 issue of Road and Track

The rise of New Media content versus the fall of Traditional Print media has been a hotly contested topic anywhere writers congregate. Not only are TP jobs evaporating but there are newcomers of all sorts who are stealing the thunder away from many of the old boy’s club.

The above statement by a respected member of the TP community exemplifies the reason the old boy’s clubs are falling apart. Strangely, Mitani is a digital savvy guy who seems to know his way around the web so I was rather taken aback by the comment.

Gary Grant

Gary Grant

A huge key to the success of NM is the transparency of the medium. Readers are encouraged to respond and interact. Writers, publishers and videographers will respond in person to a reader’s request. Most will go out of their way to actually meet up with readers if location permits because by building a real world community alongside the virtual one builds brand loyalty.

Most NM writers must work very hard and commit to years of work before they are taken seriously and even still are often shunned by the old guard. While some of the NM folks have followed the semi traditional route of going to journalism school and taking the more accommodating route of writing online, many of us actually have real industry and motorsports backgrounds. You could even say that some of us are automotive experts who also happen to write.  How many TP guys can say the same?

TP types often point to the lack of an editor. Poppycock! Pick up the local newspaper. Heck, pick up Road and Track. The quantity of typos is frightful. Recently I spent some time with the chief editor of one of the top NM automotive outlets and I can say first hand that every line of content is scrutinized before the post button is pressed. As the publisher of a smaller blog, I must admit that I self edit and do my best to correct what few small mistakes my writers make.

The big question here is how do Mitani and R & T get off thinking they are above meeting the people? They print 700,000 which they somehow manipulate into 5.5 million readers. Gawker media advertises that www.Jalopnik.com serves 2.2 million unique visits monthly which equates to roughly 21.2 million page views. Those are real eyeballs, not a guess as to how many people picked up a copy in the doctor’s office. The staff at Jalopnik interact with their readers at every chance they get. They are not alone, as most NM outlets make a point of getting to know their readers while Mitani openly admits to rebuffing a loyal reader!

Until TP manages to wrap their collective heads around the importance of building a real community alongside the virtual community, NM will continue to steal readers. Along with those readers come the ever important advertisers. I would imagine it is tough to fire up a printing press without advertising dollars!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I know Mitani’s comments may come off as a bit elitist, but we don’t know the full circumstances of the situation.

    Interestingly, in the 10 years I’ve been in the automotive media field (in one form or another) I’ve seen the general quality of “editors” decline in terms of the qualifications required for the job. It used to be a j-school degree was the minimum standard, but I know several editors that don’t even have a bachelor’s degree of any sort!

    Conversely, on the digital side, it seems sometimes there’s a disconnect between the qualifications and talent, and the work description. Not to toot my own horn, but I hold a bachelor’s in journalism as well as a master’s in communication, yet the bulk of my workday consists of re-posting articles written by someone else from the print magazine, sharing a cubicle with two co-workers, roughly 10 years my juniors. Welcome to the world of new media!

    If I may stick up for Mr. Mitani for a moment, I’ve dealt with enough hotheads and blowhards in forums and other online communities, that I often look forward to turning my computer off at the end of the day, and not having to deal with these sophomoric rabble-rousers until the next day. It may not be fair to lump all “enthusiasts” into the same category, but sometimes it’s guilt by association.

  2. Edward – Your comments reveal what I believe is one of the conceits of “Automotive Journalism.”

    It is driven by numbers of eyeballs and therefore achieving the lowest common denominator of attention becomes the highest priority of the editor or the writer. In the numbers game, an uneducated “dolt” counts as much as a PhD internet click-on.

    The interactive Internet compounds the problem where people are not self-segregated by having to pay more or less for the information they get. Consequently, editors instead of arbiters become ring-masters where the usual journalistic skills are a second or tenth concern.

    Intelligence, wit, sagacity are accepted if they don’t drive readers away or as H.L. Mencken said (roughly) “nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American consumer.”

    You are in “show biz.”

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