Monday, December 12, 2005

Web vs print

A post over on Jalopnik spurs the conversation of web vs. print media. As far as how outdated car magazines are. As someone employed by a print magazine I can't weigh in much more than I did on the Jalopnik comment I left.
But what do you guys think?
Is there worth in car magazines? I picked up a copy of Evo which everyone always says is so great. I thought it was the worst rehashed PR releases I've seen. Boring. I'll stick to Top Gear which interjects so much attitude. But both don't hesitate to bash cars, much more so than I read in American mags.


Blogger gabe said...

I generally find Car and Evo a much better read than Top Gear and miles ahead of anything from the US. Although last month's Evo was definitely the worst I can remember.

Anyway back on topic... you generally can't find the type reviews seen in UK mags anywhere in the US other than the web. True, honest assessments that don't pull any punches. One great example of this is the Solstice reviews found in Evo, Car etc. compared with recent ones seen in US mags. Is it the lack of expectations by the American public that drives this or is it simply ad dollars?

Of course the problem with relying on the web for information is inconsistent quality.

2:44 PM  
Blogger carscomblogger said...

we should probably do a list of most glaring omissions in car reviews. Interior of new Chrysler 300/magnum/charger is one of the worst around. Super cheap in looks.

Solstice has less pickup than my 99 escort but sounds like it is fast.


2:48 PM  
Blogger gabe said...

If you think the 300 looks cheap inside, wait until you cut your hand on something inside the Solstice.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Big Ford Fan said...

I don't think that print is dead, although I clearly only speak from a US Consumer's perspective. While I do get most of my news from the internet and read many reviews online, I still pick up several magazines on a regular basis, Car and Driver,AutoWeek, MotorTrend and now MPH. I like many American auto enthusiast have given up on fair and even comparisons or reviews. It's gotten so predictable, that the winner in any comparison will be either a Honda or the BMW 3 series. But there is still worth in some of the articles.

I've never been a huge fan of Brock Yates, but I read his collums often. I am a big fan of Csaba Csere. I don't like Angus MaKenzie, but read every one of his collums.

So for the latest news it's the internet, for the interesting, sometimes amusing articles it's print. It's funny, but most of the reviews I read online seem like just so many facts thrown up on the screen, useful without a doubt, but there's something to the print articles, that is more entertaining.

So print is not dead, not yet. Not for me.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Croak said...

Print mags aren't dead, at least not until electronic media can be left in a basket in the bathroom for quality-time perusal. Plus a laptop or PDA makes a lousy "emergency" supply there. ;)

And something needs to stock the millions of lobbies, waiting rooms and airport gift-shops.

Mags like MPH, which back up the print with depth-of-content online will continue to survive.

To borrow a line from a movie, the "Would you like to know more?"
hooks between print and web build value.

The biggest problem is immediacy. For example, Essen Autoshow coverage came in nearly real-time via the web, but probably won't make a print magazine until January, unless there's some lead-time pre-release "cheating" going on so that the print coincides with the event.

But that's risky, since the chance of leaks are high, and dwindling "exclusivity" for print access means there will fewer of those sorts of things staged.

What you print guys should be really concerned about is more manufacturers following GM's lead and having direct dialogue (or semi-direct) via sanctioned blogs.

If the car makers get wise and harness the power of direct communication with the customer base, that could take a bite out of the established media (and Madison Ave/Fleet Street types).

Lets face it, most print auto mags offer ACCESS. Access to the people behind the scenes, access to cars we may never see, access to "enlightened opinions".

If the manufacturers become more directly involved with the end-users, the value of magazine access drops to just the opinion pieces, for the most part.

And while that's still important, it ain't enough to make a print run on. But it makes a mighty fine blog entry.

5:09 PM  
Blogger carscomblogger said...

wow croak you think the Fastlanes of the world would replace third party journalists?!
If I had to rely on that blog for my auto information I'd shoot myself. Its a neat idea but the execution since the start has been hit and miss to be kind.

I didn't mind the interior of the solstice for the money. It could've been worse. I did hate the ergonomics. Try to lower the windows. Try to use the cupholder. People made fun of the 4 cup holders in the miata but i caught myself using two on my side!

the web is horrible for leaks. But have you noticed toyota is doing nothing about the massively leaked Camry photos? those green images taken from Consumer Guide (now removed from CG) are all over and used as clip art almost. Um...those are embargoed until Jan. I'm guessing toyota is happy to get the buzz there.

The auto shows I think will slowly go to online exclusively from now on. We covered SEMA almost exclusively online (besides the feature GTX story on our cover!) for that reason Croak.

7:59 PM  
Blogger gabe said...

"I didn't mind the interior of the solstice for the money. It could've been worse."

Not to move this off topic but that's exactly what I was talking about when I asked the question; "Is it the lack of expectations by the American public that drives this or is it simply ad dollars?"

The interior of the Solstice has been torn apart by the foriegn press yet glossed over by the domestic press. Why? The design is nice but execution in terms of materials is terrible. Is it that we don't really expect that much as consumers? My vote is yes.

12:13 PM  
Blogger carscomblogger said...

i wouldn't say "terrible" If you get it in all black (the two tone looks yuck) it is on a par with some of the foreign brands. The fact that Mazda went overboard and knocked out a totally awesome interior in the Miata doesn't help things though.

I'm not a big fan of the Solstice but roadster fans like it. The cornering and chassis are superb. It feels like the Z4 when you throw it around a corner. But again the acceleration is cruddy. It is a car about looks and nothing else. and you kind of have to drive it to get it.
i won't even get into the trunk. You can not build a roadster and not allow for an overnight bag to fit in the back for a weekend getaway. 1 cubic foot. wow.

as for overall expectations on american cars, yes it is down. That is why they gloss over the interior of the 300/magnum/charger etc. Then you slam down the pedal in a SRT and you just don't give a shit because it is one of the most gut wrenching feelings you'll experience on the road.

Then again I wasn't impressed with the new Civic sedan and everyone else loves it (haven't driven the Si which is supposed to be something special). The interior had that terrycloth-like interior you used to get in compacts of the 1980s!

1:01 PM  

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