The Ten Commandments of Auto Journalists

By: Syed Shiraz

You must have heard from many auto journalists that ours is one of the best jobs in the world. I would say that it’s not one of the best – it’s THE BEST. It has its pain areas too, which, in some cases, might get painful enough to compel you to quit! But while an article on that will have to wait for some time, this one is for all of us auto journalists and bloggers, including those who’re aspiring to join this field.

Let me present to you then, the Ten Commandments of Auto Journalists:

Thou Shalt Not Covet the PR Girls

The girls/women in PR / Corp. Comm., like any host, are polite and nice to you out of sheer courtesy. Do not mistake it for anything else. Even if your friends call you Adonis. You must also note that the punishment for not following this Commandment is ten times more severe for married men.

Thou Shalt Answer Every Opportunity Though 

This one might appear tricky, because it’s listed immediately after the above commandment, but isn’t. If you follow the first one religiously, this would become even easier. Because, when you stop taking every smile as an invitation to be asked out, you’ll be able to easily notice the extra efforts put in by someone. This Commandment doesn’t apply to married men.

Thou Shalt Not Copy Paste from International Reviews 

Especially if you’re considered to be among the top three motoring magazines in India.

Also Read: Do Influencers Really Influence Motorcyclists? Part I

Thou Shalt Learn to Understand Bikes & Cars

Improving your riding/driving skills at manufacturer-sponsored track-days is a given, especially if you’re from “CAT A media”, but you should take some time out to learn more about stuff such as ignition timing, camshafts, etc., to avoid making mistakes such  as a V6 BMW Z4, or a single-cylinder Yamaha R25, or a factory Abarth 595 in India with Record Monza exhausts.

Funnily enough, these three blunders were made by the Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor, and Principal Correspondent, respectively, of the same magazine. Just so you know that the editor has left the industry now, and while the correspondent has moved on to another magazine, the Associate Editor, who I think has become the Editor-in-Chief now, has kept the tradition alive. In his review of the Yamaha R15 V3, he confidently (and incorrectly) says that the new bike has only one intake valve operating before 7,400 rpm. I so wish I could put a ROFLMAO emoticon here.

Thou Shalt Treat Media Units with Care

From throwing up in an Audi R10 to totally/majorly damaging cars like the R8 (yes!), Volvo V40, and many more, auto journos have done it all. While the majority of these damages are done by members of ‘top-ranked’ media houses, the brunt in the form of “you-ain’t-getting-to-test-our-cars” is faced by reviewers associated with “lesser blogs”, despite the latter being better drivers/riders in most cases.

Thou Shalt Never Consider Yourself Rossi or Schumacher

If your old Baleno’s handbrake doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean you must try J-turns in the Baleno RS. If you were really that good, you would’ve been in at least a local racing team of an Indian manufacturer. You’re not, so please drive/ride the media units within your limits.

See, just to keep you from breaking shiny new cars and bikes, most manufacturers have now started organizing track-days for you to ride/drive fast in a controlled environment, as they know that despite your fat salary, your stingy self would never shell out the money from your own pocket for a track-day. But, you have to take that opportunity to learn and become better, and not go all out at the manufacturer’s expense.

 Also Read: Motorcycling Etiquette: An Insight For Dummies – What NOT to Do!

 Thou Shalt Improve Your English

So that you don’t have to use terms like carporn, eargasm, side profile, front fascia, etc., or phrases like ‘power goes to the rear wheels in a motorcycle’, etc. To know more about this Commandment, click here.

Thou Shalt Write for the Consumer

Do you know why cars with Zero NCAP rating and Royal Enfield motorcycles continue to sell so much? Because their target audience doesn’t take you seriously. Because they know you have sold your soul and your balls to a few manufacturers. Start writing keeping the consumer in mind, and you shall earn everyone’s respect. Most manufacturers will respect you too.

Thou Shalt Not WriteTo Please A Manufacturer 

Leave that for the fashion, food, and tech bloggers who are now invited to “review” cars and bikes too. No one respects them. No one will respect you too if you go review a Pizza. Stick to your job and its ethics. Your thousand-word review should be more helpful to the consumer than an influencer’s thousand pictures. Even if that influencer is posing for pictures standing on a bike with her shoes on its tank and saddle. 

Thou Shalt Uphold Your Integrity

And not do negative stories arising out of personal reasons. Writing about the lack of safety features in cars of newer and smaller companies is easy, especially when they forget to invite you for media drives. A spine is needed to write the same about the bigger, older players. Don’t pretend to grow a spine occasionally; you just don’t have it.

I do hope this helps. In driving some much-needed introspection. The next one to follow would be dedicated to my friends (and foes too) in PR and Corp. Comm.

Next Read: NOBLE Prize in Automotive Journalism: Reality Check