Motoring journalism can be fun

BEAUTY Ford Thunderbird, the Halle Berry-Bond speedster featured in ‘Die Another Day’.

India manufactures over 11 million two- and four-wheeled vehicles and exports about 1.5 million every year. It is the world’s second largest manufacturer of motorcycles, with annual sales exceeding 8.5 million in 2009. India’s passenger car and commercial vehicle manufacturing industry is the seventh largest in the world, with an annual production of more than 2.6 million units in 2009. In 2009, India emerged as Asia’s fourth largest exporter of passenger cars, behind Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

A niche area of journalism which is increasingly becoming popular is motoring journalism. With a wide choice of cars and bikes and motorsports, there is plenty to write about.

Publications

A vibrant automobile industry has spawned a number of magazines. Even newspapers have supplements and regular features on the automobile industry.

Some of the publications in India include Bike India, Car India, BS Motoring, Overdrive, What Car, Super Bike, Bike Sport & Leisure, Motor Trend, Motorindia, Car, Car & Bike International, Auto India, Autocar India, Indian Auto, Autocar India, Car India, Bike India and Zig Wheels.

Foreign automobile magazines have Indian editions like BBC Top Gear India and AutoBild. There are other trade-related automobile magazines like Auto Bharti/ Scooter Times, Car and Driver, Road and Track, Auto Week, New Car Test Drive and Car Collector.

Qualification

To become a motoring journalist, you have to master two areas: motoring and journalism. If you have a special knowledge of motoring, that’ll give you a clear advantage.

You can also take some courses in writing and journalism to complete a more formal education in the area. A degree in automobile engineering is a distinct advantage.

Some UK universities have a course in automobile journalism. Coventry University has an auto journalism course. The University For The Creative Arts, United Kingdom, offers a BA (Hons) in Motoring Journalism. The South African Guild of Motoring Journalists has a Bursar programme in which successful applicants are placed in a variety of motoring publications, PR agencies, and motor manufacturers.

Qualities

Essentially, you must be enthusiastic about cars. You must be able to relate to normal car users. To be a good motoring journalist, besides being a good journalist, you’ve got to have a real interest in cars and be original in the way you write.

Being a motoring journalist is really just the same as being any other journalist - chasing stories and finding interesting ideas. It is a combination of two skills - your literary and communication skills and expertise and knowledge of Fords and Ferraris.

You have got to be a good writer, and that means being able to grab the reader’s attention. It also means paying attention to the little things like spelling and grammar - get these wrong and most editors won’t give your work a second glance. The best motoring writers are excellent wordsmiths.

An obsession with cars, bikes and the motor industry helps. It is satisfying to write about something you love and it will improve the quality of your work, too. As this is a specialised area, you will need to have a dogged determination to make it as a motoring journalist. Your persistence will eventually be rewarded.

For sheer variety, you can write about car and bike rallies, drag races, vintage rallies, motoring adventures, automobile museums and automobile histories. Whenever a new James Bond movie is released, the car used in the movie generates a lot of interest.

Handy notes

*Automobile Association of Eastern India, 13, Ballygunge Circular Road (Promothesh Barua Sarani), Kolkata - 700019.

*Automobile Association of Southern India, AASI Centre, 187, Anna Salai, Post Box No. 729, Chennai - 600 006;

www.aasindia.in

*Western India Automobile Association, Lalji Naranji Memorial Building (IMC Building) 76, Veer Nariman Road Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020.

*Automobile Association of Upper India, C-8, Qutab Institutional Area, Behind Qutab Hotel, New Delhi - 110016.

*Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), Core 4B, 5th Floor, India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road.

*The Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India, 203-205, Kirti Deep Building, Nangal Raya Business Centre, New Delhi 110046.

(Note: This is only a partial list. There are many other organisations which are a source of valuable information for motoring journalists.)

The Guild of Motoring Writers offers more specific advice on motor journalism (www.guildofmotoringwriters.co.uk.)

Must reads

*Clarkson on Cars by Jeremy clarkson
* Riding the ranges: Travels on my motorcycle by Bill Aitken
* Long way down and Race to Dakar by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman

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