Save auto journalism
At age 12 I bought my first auto magazine. Over the next couple of years I sampled all the ones being published. Finally, the quality of content of two magazines made them permanent – Autocar and Overdrive. From 2003, I have read every single issue of both. Autocar, always under Hormazd, was (and still is) the serious one. Overdrive, under Adil, then Aspi, Yogendra, Sirish (and now Bertrand), was the fun one. It was the perfect combination, and together you all educated, entertained and engaged a growing teenager. You guys were my heroes. Through my engineering years I dreamt of becoming an auto journalist. Then four years ago came evo India. All it took were a couple of issues, and my monthly reading got a third entry.
Here we are then, with Autocar and evo India! The approaches are so different that the magazines compliment each other perfectly. I can’t imagine my life without either. And that makes me very concerned. From my perspective of being a reader for the last 17 years, I get the feeling that auto journalism in India is in danger. I see two problems: 1. Quality. The internet has turned everything into a game of speed and visibility. Your team needs to not only photograph and write a report on a car, but also shoot a YouTube video, Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, etc. And all the content has to be out in double quick time. In this great hurry most of the content out there is really poor. Thankfully, you guys have still managed to keep up the quality. Take a little longer, but give readers in-depth reviews in lucid language. Stand for quality and people will wait for your stories.
2. Trust. For some reason, the impression is that everything is paid journalism. You all are a little at fault here, with ‘Special Feature/ Response Feature’ kind of articles that form a part of your content. The bigger problem is the advent of several car forums, where anybody and everybody is an armchair ‘expert’ and scoffs at the opinions of the established auto publications. This creates doubts in the minds of the general reading public. It takes years of experience, like you guys have, to evaluate a car properly, see it in the context of its competition and give correct advice to the consumer. Furthermore, it requires confidence and courage to stand by your review of a product. Please do find a way to build trust with your readers.
Hormazd and Sirish, the future of Indian auto journalism is your hands. You are competitors, but at this juncture the entire fraternity of traditional auto publications needs to stand together. I want to continue to enjoy the superior level of content that I always have. More importantly, I want that the next generation of kids to experience the same emotions of diving into the world of automobiles. Ananth Kamath