It seems like every week, there’s another question or two in my in-box. “How do I break into the world of automotive journalism?” they ask. Rather than pen another thoughtful individual answer, I thought it might be worthwhile to pen a post.
So you want to become an automotive journalist, eh? I guess I can’t blame you. After all, this seems like a glamorous life, filled with adventure and new-car smell. The allure is strong. You’ve always loved cars and this seems like the perfect career path …
Be careful of what you wish for, because one day it might come true.
“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?”
The vast majority of “Automotive Journalists” are not well paid. Many could not afford to buy the expensive vehicles they test drive.
Do you like to clean and detail cars? I spend hours each week keeping the cars clean to shoot. You’d make a whole lot more money by opening a detailing business and employing folks.
I’ve followed an unconventional route. I have an art degree, not a journalism degree. I don’t market myself as either an artist or journalist. I am a writer and de facto videographer. I just do what I do, because I have nothing left to do.
Eat. Drive. Write. Shoot. Cut. Sleep.
If you want to become a journalist, get a journalism degree. If you want to write for a living, you damn well better love to write.
If you want to work in automotive media, in some form (without being a writer, per se), there are other ways into the game. Most involve working hard and being in the right place at the right time.
In the past, the manufacturers ran significantly larger media fleets, or so I’ve been told. With the downturn in the newspaper industry, the number of local professional print media folks that “review” cars has dwindled.
The folks that run the fleets have always placed vehicles with publishers in specific communities. Where in the old days, those communities were largely geographic in nature, things are different today.
These days, the communities are interest or demographic based. That’s why you see mommy bloggers and doggie bloggers landing review cars. While there’s nothing wrong with that, I’d reckon that precious few are as fastidious as I am about keeping the cars clean. You know, for the photos. Or in my case, the footage.
Similarly, for every printed automotive magazine that has folded, dozens of websites have cropped up. Nearly as many have crapped out. Print was expensive, but that expense provided a hurdle. The Internet is dirt cheap, but that dust sometimes covers the gems.
When I tripped into the path I did, it was not calculated. It had become obvious. I had come to a realization.
I didn’t choose this as a career path. This path chose me.
Fuel economy isn’t an afterthought.
Fuel is the economy … and we’re being held hostage.
I’m here to help change that. This is my windmill.
Tilt away. Phasers on stun.
Enough about me. Back to you.
You want to be an automotive journalist, right?
- Find your voice.
- Find your niche.
- Find your audience.
But nevermind what I say. Listen to Clarkson.
– by Daniel Gray