Motoring Journos and Freebies

Submitted: Saturday, Jun 25, 2005 at 12:25
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This article wouldn't also apply to 4wds would it?

Crikey artlicle

Cynical Gerry
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Reply By: Footloose - Saturday, Jun 25, 2005 at 12:42

Saturday, Jun 25, 2005 at 12:42
Wouldn't be surprised. Bribes and corruption in some form or another is one of the perks for being good at climbing up the slippery pole in all sorts of industries. Luckily its not as bad here as in some neighbouring countries.
AnswerID: 117390

Follow Up By: joc45 - Saturday, Jun 25, 2005 at 12:51

Saturday, Jun 25, 2005 at 12:51
Hi Footloose,
I guess the main issue here is the reporting of blatant design problems - You know how much is discussed here on this forum about crook engines, gearboxes, suspension etc, yet the Journos seem to know nothing about them (at least till the next model comes out, then they say how previous problems have been fully rectified).
Of course they're not going to report serious problems if it means their freebie is in jeopardy.
Gerry
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Reply By: F4Phantom - Saturday, Jun 25, 2005 at 14:09

Saturday, Jun 25, 2005 at 14:09
A good mate of mine has bee involved in over 20 different vehicle mags over the years, he knows just about every important motoring writer on the planet and has told me some amazing stories of how these writers get treated. It is true, they basicly get cushy jobs travelling the world driving nice cars, eating at fancy places - get paid off to turn the story into what it ought to be from the manufactures point of view. I recon it's a freakin rip to the rest of us who have to read about all these new cars that are revolutionising the industry. The truth is - as we all know - car makers produce the crap they think will sell the most, they make money for $1k cd players and other various upgrades. They whole model line up from the base model up the top of the range is just a big game of chirades to make us feel like we are getting value. Just look on ebay to see the price of after market reverse camera's, GPS, reverse sensors, cd players and all the stuff you pay $1000's for. Makes me angry, but in reality we cant do alot about it. Talk with your feet and dont buy cars from makers who use lousy marketing tactics. another example, try to find a 4x4 magazine who tells you about all the problems with the new land cruiser IFS and the various "fixes" third party manufactures have come up with, also how it is less capable that the old model with solid axle. Mags like this have a vested interest to keep their advertisers happy, land cruiser and patrol will never have weak points from these guys. I test drove a disco 3 the other day after being told how they handle and accelerate like a car, this is crap, they handle and accelerate like a 4x4. In my experiance you cannot overcome the laws of physics with a really good write up.
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Reply By: Traveller - Sunday, Jun 26, 2005 at 07:32

Sunday, Jun 26, 2005 at 07:32
Oh please! Don't tell me you believe everything/anything you read on Crikey.com! Same for the SMH and the Absolutely Biased Corporation I suppose?
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Follow Up By: joc45 - Sunday, Jun 26, 2005 at 15:46

Sunday, Jun 26, 2005 at 15:46
Traveller, you forgot to mention a few 4wd mags as well ;-)
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Reply By: PhineasP - Sunday, Jun 26, 2005 at 12:57

Sunday, Jun 26, 2005 at 12:57
I suspect we all drive around believing much (but progressively less) of the marketing pitch that originally led us to buy a particular vehicle. Unless you are a first rate mechanic or automotive engineer what else can you rely on? The cold light of day dawns very slowly. When I bought my last vehicle I despairingly realised that there is no way of avoiding owning even more of those wretched computer chips that infest our vehicles apart from buying a (quite old) used car. The hype about how wonderful the technology is goes right past me now, I just wait for the next set of techno-gremlins to make their presence felt.
AnswerID: 117526

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Tuesday, Jun 28, 2005 at 15:42

Tuesday, Jun 28, 2005 at 15:42
Some of the most reliable engines ever built have been computer controlled.

VL/Skyline 3.0 Inline 6
Holdens 3.8V6
4.2 petrols in the Patrols and Landcruisers
etc etc.

Don't be scared of electronics. The majority of electronics are fail safe anyway, ie they generally won't stop you dead.

Most starting and engine cutting out problems I've seen that have been put down to electronics have been bloody dodgy installed alarms and imobilisers! (aftermarket)

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Reply By: Member - Collyn R (WA) - Tuesday, Jul 05, 2005 at 13:43

Tuesday, Jul 05, 2005 at 13:43
In my later years in publishing I was managing editor of Kerry Packer's technical and scientific magazines worldwide, and was involved with his motoring magazines for several years.

It is totally true that motoring writers are extremely well treated by the car industry. They are flown (usually business or first class) to exotic venues, are put up in first class hotels, fed the very top nosh, and offered top wines. There are often side visits to other attractions. It is common for them to be given stuff - but this is usually only of token value. I know this because I've occasionally accompanied them.

But having said that, a senior executive of one major (Asian) car company recently and publicaly offered costly cars at half price to journalists at a local press conference. And at least one took up the offer, allegedly for two of them - until the offer was rescinded by the company's appalled and embarrased PR people.

I believe that to some extent this treatment inevitably goes to the writers' heads. Some may well be influenced by it and produce overly favourable reports. But by no means all are: in particular Australian motoring writers in UK magazines (such as Car) tell it as they see it.

There is also a tendency for some of these writers to be petrol/diesel heads and review a product almost totally out of context. There is for example the ongoing praise for high powered off-road vehicles, but racing apart, overly high power is the last thing in the world needed in most off-road conditions. Low-down torque yes - power no.

As to actual full-on bribery, I suspect it's very rare. And that may even bounce. There's a car company that may still remember the typewriter they gave a motoring writer - who asked me what he should do about. Simple! We reviewed the typewriter instead of the car and then gave it to St Vincent de Paul.

Bribery does however certainly exist in the reverse direction. Many magazines offer 'advertorial' as a reward for advertising. This stuff is pernicious. It is written by the advertiser but commonly reproduced as if it were editorial. A dead give away is a sentence like 'we provide etc....' At minimum this stuff should be headed 'advertorial' or 'advertising'.

My current dislike is the increasing dumbing down of writing in Oz 4WD publications, particularly the ongoing blokey Ocker attitude, and the seeming inability to do anything whilst sober. This does not reflect well on 4WD drivers generally. A pix of one such writer apparantly inspecting his balls (photo in a current issue) hardly assists the image.
Collyn Rivers

AnswerID: 118938

Follow Up By: Member - Smocky (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 05, 2005 at 16:49

Tuesday, Jul 05, 2005 at 16:49
I commend you Collyn (for what that's worth anyway).

Getting editorial for advertising is never really "agreed" or "sold" that way, but certainly I get it all the time. If I'm thinking of advertising, I even suggest how about a review of this, or a product launch of that and am always told "can't guarantee it , but I think we have space".

As for current 4WD mags, I am incredibly dissapointed as a fairly new person to this, that there is NOTHING apart from this website that appears to be of any use to me. Every mag I pick up talks about "Toughest outback challenge ever" or "The new discovery" or "How best to do the CSR".

I'd love some articles clearly explaining what a snorkel would do and not saying get one or not, but explaining the pros and cons for example. Or a destinations guide to some of the lesser known National Parks in southern NSW say.

Anyway's, fortunately there is this forum.

Cheers,

Smocky.
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Reply By: Steve - Tuesday, Jul 05, 2005 at 17:34

Tuesday, Jul 05, 2005 at 17:34
Interesting Collyn. Australian 4x4 monthly comes to mind with the beery imagery. You look at the amount of advertising in that magazine, for instance, and the carrots they dangle to get us to subscibe, it's not difficult to imagine "deals" happening a la "nudge, nudge". btw, I wonder how we'd respond to a few Poms over here "telling it how they see it"? Come to think of it, I wonder how we'd respond to a few Aussies over here "telling us how they see it" in the motoring mags.
AnswerID: 118955

Follow Up By: Member - Collyn R (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 06, 2005 at 09:26

Wednesday, Jul 06, 2005 at 09:26
Smocky

My comments re advertorial are general and certainly not aimed at any specific magazine. Some do it, some don't.

In my experience the extent to which magazines do this tends to depend on

(a) whether the magazine's management has a marketing as opposed to an editorial background - if it has, editorial may be seen primarily as way of filling holes between the advts.

(b) Whether the magazine's revenue is primarily from advertising as opposed to magazine sales.

Classic examples of advertorial will be found in some ultra-glossy magazines that cost many times more per copy to print than they recover in sales revenue. They literally lose money on each copy sold - but must have the circulation to justify the advertising charges. Some of these magazines' content is almost entirely advertorial.

Also extreme examples are so-called 'trade magazines' where advertorial is almost totally routine.

My objection to it is that many readers seriously believe the stuff is genuine editorial and tend to believe that the claims frequently made are the opinion of the magazine. This stuff is either written by the advertiser or their PR or advertising agents and usually run totally un-edited.

There is one further point. Some specialised glossy magazines are often mostly bought by people for vicarious or other interest. A very good example is some truck magazines - these are rarely if ever bought by truckies. They are selling the sizzle not the steak!

I'm not sure to what extent this is true of 4WD glossies - but the ongoing and extensive coverage of rock crawling and mud bashing events (that must sure only be indulged in by a tiny majority of buyers) causes one to ponder.
Collyn Rivers

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