Why writers & journalists have it easy today… In general, car manufacturers are very generous to motoring journalists and it is appreciated. Scribes and snappers are invited to events and launches, all, or at least most, expenses paid. Recently, I was asked to attend, with VIP status, a prestigious motor racing event, for example. Very nice. Certainly the work can be demanding at times but you can’t fault the arrangements.
The Way Car Journalists Were
This, in terms of convenience, is the golden age for automotive writers. To fully appreciate it we need to go back… back in time… to an age before the World Wide Web and mobile telephones when intrepid reporters had to meet tight deadlines by any means.
Let’s say a writer and a photographer from a British magazine were reporting from the Monaco Grand Prix, dispatched by a dyspeptic, cigar-chomping editor with instructions not to come back without the story.
Immediately after the event the scribe needed to have his text ready. He would then have to find a telephone that wasn’t being used by another journo and phone in his report to be transcribed by a secretary at the other end before being edited, set in type and printed – and he had it easy.
Meanwhile the photographer, fiercely clutching his exposed films, had to rush to an airport to catch hastily arranged flight connections back to dear old Blighty. It was often a tight-run thing with flights missed or delayed because of weather or the French air traffic controllers (yes, they’ve been at it that long).
It didn’t end there for the travel-weary snapper. He then had to get to a darkroom, process the emulsions himself rather than risk them with a disinterested technician, print out a contact sheet and give it to the picture editor to select suitable images and all before the deadline. Phew.
The Way Car Journalists Are
Get up, fly or drive in, probably in a press car and go to the event, launch or race meeting. Write words during or after straight into a laptop and wifi them away on the spot. The photographer meanwhile can shoot abundant images to one large memory card or, quicker still, transmit them similarly direct from the event or trackside. Better still, one individual can do both.
Watching race meetings or observing models at car shows or attending launches and driving the latest cars can be wearing, you’ll be sorry to hear. It makes for long days grazing on chocolate croissants and coffee, long nights of typing and these days the internet wants the output – now. The best part of it is that by and large motoring writers don’t get shot at or blown up, unlike other journalists who put themselves in harm’s way to get the story.
New technology has certainly been a boon to the working world. It has made things easier but has it made them better? It’s certainly less exciting although I suspect that the car journalists of old would have dearly loved just a fraction of the kit available to us now. Geoff Maxted