Posted 24 October 2005 - 23:33
I have dipped into this thread on and off for a while, but some points may have been covered.
In terms of getting copies onto shelves, I couldn't help noticing 5 copies of the current Octane magazine in the bookstall/newsagent at JFK Terminal 4 last weekend. No Motor Sport among the serried ranks of tyre-smoking Clarkson-esque comics there.
The issue of content will never please everyone. Motor Sport is like the VSCC and had to change its approach and customer base whilst not alienating its existing buyers/members etc. When the whole redtop thing started last year I had some very involved e mails with someone whom I regard as a person of consequence in Haymarket identifyin my concerns, not least about standard of grammar, syntax and general style, and he explained the policy about the revamp of the magazine clearly, and I was happy to go along with it. They are in the same boat as Lord March, having to appeal to new people, as much as satisfying old pedants. Good wood is as some people like to remember it, not as it was. We have a choice whether we pay Charles March's GRRC fees and ticket prices or not. So MS has also had to move on in what is now a very changed market.
A friend was asked by another rival mag to write a detailed article on his specialist subject but he pulled it when he was told to use smaller and less technical words etc. They pointed out they were in the "leisure industry". Perhaps that sums it up, in terms of the problems which face MS et al. There is also the problem of a perceived reducing attention span of many potential readers, many of whom have no detailed or deep knowledge of historic motor sport matters.
We all had to start somewhere, knowing nothing about it. MS are trying to be attractive to potential readers. I am amazed that with their invaluable promotion of VSCC matters and events they do not negotiate to repat some of the extremely knowldgeable artilces, by experts, which appear in thre VCSS quarterly magazine. I am convinced that these articles would appeal to a ver wide range of readers of all levels of knowledge, and the VSCC and their contributors would no doubt welcome the repeat fees.
One of the points I made to Mr Haymarket was that they should re re-run some of the old articles from C&SC written by DCN in the eighties since they involved interviews with the people who were there at the time, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties etc. The "Anno Domini" has cought up with many of them now so there is no one to tell it as it was. Additionally Doug's stuff was always correct.
Similarly they could utilise/repeat a lot of Jenks stuff on a selective basis, rather than the tokenism which exists at present with the patronising comment about Jenks at the end.
Bill Boddy ran a series of "Cars I have Known etc" or "Fragments on forgotten makes" for years which would bear repeating for a new readership. How else will people decide what they like or what they would like to know more about if they only get the usual potboiler stuff with inaccuracies.? Additionally, rewritten history runs the risk of being told as people may want it told, as TNFers are ready to point out, which is why Dr Lawrence's Chapman book was so good, and why a new biog of Len Terry is so needed, telling it as it was.
WB's stuff is edited by the excellent Gordon Cruickshank, whose talents are often under-estimated I feel.
In terms of a young Editor, I recall Simon Taylor was quite young when he took over Autosport, younger than Mick Walsh at C&SC or Tony Dron at Classic Cars, and I thought they did a good job. I fear that there is a risk of the "dog chasing motorbike" syndrome. Even if it catches it, the dog does not know what to do with it. The road to ruin is paved with good intentions. However, as an MS groupie since January 61 I will remain loyal.
For the benefit of our overseas colleagues, it may be apt to point out that one of the major Banks in the UK has a key advertising campaign of TV in which a frustrated existing customer is denied all the new or special deals which are "FOR NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY". Perhaps Stuart should watch more TV. The frustrated customer takes her business elsewhere.
The new Haymarket subscription policy is flawed beyond belief and would never be tolerated in a normal commercial environment, with new customers getting better deals than longterm, loyal contracted subscribers.
The real gem was C&SC earler in the year. I renewed for another TWO years, only to be offered a deal in the magazine for one year, three months later, which pro rata was £6 per year dearer, but I would have received a FREE holdall, which I would even have considerd buying, valued at ELEVEN and a HALF times that difference, £69. Do the calculation for yourselves for the negative payback period for my deal, ignoring any Discounted Cash Flow benefit to Haymarket for my second year. Are you reading this Stuart??
We all know that there is no financial logic to restoring/running/racing old sports cars. That appears to apply also to buying the relevant magazines.
However, if you have any valid criticisms of the magazine, e mail the Editor. He is not a mind reader.