Motoring Journalist jobs(Also known as Car writer, Bike writer, Motorcycle journalist, Auto journalist, Automotive writer)
An Motoring journalist completes test drives of new car or motorbike models and prepares opinion pieces and reviews for magazines, web sites and television. An automotive journalist is responsible for advising public consumers and industry affiliates about car-related (or motorcycle-related) news, reviews and opinion. A core of the work involves road-testing cars in the respect that this activity is what generates reviews and newsworthy items. In reality, road-testing comprises a very small number of working hours compared to the actual writing of features. A majority of automotive journalists work either for printed magazines or e-magazines and newsletters, with a very privileged few making it into the domain of television presenting. For this reason, the job is referred to as “car writing,” illustrating that it does not usually encompass TV work. In the UK, the publishing industry is resplendent with a plethora of auto-flavoured offerings, with an estimated 85 different car magazines of domestic origin alone. Consider that a large number of import publications are available from specialist newsagents also, and it becomes easy to assume that the scope of potential work is vast. In practice, a small number of car writers take up staff positions with car magazines, whereas a significant majority are freelancers who contribute automotive material for non-automotive magazines.
SalaryThe starting salary for first year car writers with non-London-based automotive publications is £16,500, although these positions rarely become available; it is a specialised field of journalism which requires strong knowledge of the automotive industry in addition to a journalistic background. A journalist with three years of newspaper experience and a good foundation of automotive knowledge can expect to earn around £18,000 for placements outside London, rising to £21,500 with a London-based magazine on their second year of placement. These figures have been taken from modal averages based on a number of jobs which become available from time to time on media-focused job matching web sites. For freelancers, the going rate for a 1000-word article published in a UK magazine of any type is £75-£125. This approximate value holds true for foreign territories too, although the rate often drops in less developed countries (that still have a reasonable publishing industry), such as the Philippines, Cambodia and parts of the African continent.
- Complete road tests of manufacturer's vehicles for subsequent review
- Write detailed and involving copy when composing the complete article
- Liaise with the manufacturer to obtain product information and high-resolution photography
- Shoot publishing-quality photography on occasions where professional photographer is not in attendance
- Attend manufacturer product launches
- Make personal overseas travel arrangements when covering international launches and shows
- Maintain a detailed and up-to-date overview of the automotive industry
QualificationsYoung candidates who wish to become automotive journalists nearly always consider a BTEC, GNVQ or City & Guilds qualification in Journalism. In practice, this is not essential. The progression of a career in such a specific field of journalism depends on the candidate’s ability to write clear, entertaining and informed copy, witty opinion and interesting (and accurate) launch news items. Whilst newspapers like potential recruits to demonstrate their abilities in journalistic technique, car writing is different to general news journalism because most candidates will be working freelance, and hence they will be writing about whatever automotive elements interest them. It is this passion and dedication to the art of automotion that fosters the desire to write intelligent and brilliant copy, and this cannot be learned at college. Some universities even offer specific degree courses for automotive journalism (with Coventry University the leading example), though it is possible to enjoy regular earnings as a freelancer in this industry without ever having set foot in a learning institution.
- Very strong general grasp of the automotive industry, which does not necessarily mean knowing every make and model inside-out
- Superb opinion-weighted writing ability
- Understanding of the way in which the industry works, in terms of launches, PR, shows and testing
- Freelancers must be highly-motivated and be able to take daily knock-backs from editors
- Staff writers have consistently busy diaries in terms of launches and testing, so good time management is essential
- Be prepared to travel across Europe and beyond, as it is truly an international industry