Tomfoolery – Video Killed The Motojournalist Star

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In the course of obtaining my journalism degree, I remember being presented with a career path choice: Print or Broadcast. To me, one entailed the gathering and processing of facts into digestible chunks of prose accompanied by a photojournalist’s images. The other was wearing a yellow rain slicker while standing in a hurricane and informing people how windy it is (cut to the B-roll of some unlucky evacuee’s roof being blown off).

Growing up and reading motorcycle magazines in the bygone, pre-internet era, I regarded the editors beneath their full-face helmets with tinted visors as heroes and gods, recognizable only by the name stitched onto their leathers. Rarely did I or any subscriber see their unhelmeted mugs, and we certainly didn’t know the sound of their voices. Their opinions about the motorcycles they reviewed, indisputable – except for the handful of letters chosen for inclusion in a succeeding month’s issue. Still, these letters were comprised of factual corrections, thoughtful questions or intriguing counterpoints.

By the early ’90s I was a two-time college dropout with a career history of selling motorcycles, furniture and everything in between. Then, the proverbial light bulb illuminated and I re-entered college with a renewed vigor compelled by the goal of joining the elite population of skilled (and unbeknown to me at the time, humbly paid) motojournalists.

With the internet exploding around me, I chose print; embracing both the traditional dead tree format as well as the burgeoning digital version of the written word. Of course, the internet opened the door to anyone with a computer to create a website, a blog, a newsletter, etc., and claim to be a motojournalist. But that’s OK, the internet’s big enough for both the professional as well as the hobbyist.

Early in the game, websites emulated magazines; both were comprised of text and photos. Then Youtube happened. Now, with the lens of the video camera fixed upon us, a motojounalist’s enunciation is expected to be equal to that of his composition. However, and I think I speak for all motojournalists in our industry, having chosen print and not broadcast journalism, few of us have been groomed as on-air personalities. We’re all still the same troglodytic men owning a diverse set of motorcycle riding skills and the ability to stitch together a few coherent sentences while typing with two fingers.

Compounding the video review rigamarole is the lack of scripted dialogue, teleprompters, or even cue cards. We’re expected to dismount an unfamiliar motorcycle and spontaneously deliver a cohesive, insightful, factual and entertaining review. This on-the-spot filming exposes our true personalities, both strengths and foibles, to the scrutiny of all motorcycle enthusiasts.

No more can a motojournalist hide behind the pages of a printed magazine, cherry picking the letters to which they respond. The video review has changed the game, as has the accompanying unaccountable viewer responses. But what the video review really does, I think, is reveal the editors in front of the camera as the same bike crazy, gear-heads as the guys and gals watching the videos.

These guys are doing a horrible job at comparison test and are clearly a couple of failure beer pongers, unfit for this job.” –Stjepan Klancir

Idiots, it’s not a V-twin, it’s an L-twin.” Zwerfdude

Probably one of the worst comparison review videos I’ve seen. Seems like it should have been called “miscellaneous” category motorcycles. How much time was spent on aesthetics?” –theforgottenorg

Stop saying jaded AND shave the rest of your face…you ain’t no Asian Wolverine.” Richard Burns

Less Tom Roderick please!” –Jon C

So, don’t be haters in the video comments section. We’re regular Joes, just like you, only lucky enough to have turned motorcycling into a career. And, without having to look very closely, you can see in our eyes that most of us are retrospectively wishing we had picked up a few of those broadcast journalism classes.

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  • JMDonald

    The readership wants to know that the scribes we read are not sell outs to the manufacturers. We also know that you cannot bite the hand that feeds you. Truthful insight goes a long way.

    • Oslo Norway

      These guys are truth tellers…I totally share that viewpoint you are talking about, and I swear these guys? They tell the truth. Maybe even to their detriment in the past. But here? They can do the right thing.

  • Old MOron

    If it’s any consolation, I read everything your guys write. I enjoy the videos, but truth is I like the written reviews better. I think it’s because they have the benefit of reflection and rewriting, while the videos are more spontaneous and therefore less polished.

    Any way, keep up the good work.

    PS: Okay, I don’t read *everything* you guys write. I skip most of the boat anchor reviews!

  • Old MOron

    One more thing: the photo at the top of this story makes it look like you are working on a comparo between the CB1100, Griso, and R9T.
    Oh please, oh pleaseeee…

  • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

    I am one of those rare persons on the inerwbz who prefers text to video. Even in the case of a live speech, I prefer to wait until there’s a transcription then watch video any video.

    I’m weird that way, I suppose.

    I understand wanting to be the ones in front of the camera, but you have to be a bit willing to watch others, watch yourself (a LOT), take notes/criticism from trusted sources & maybe even spend $100 on that on camera course down at the local community college. The to all this being practice, but don’t use your intended audience as your practice audience.

    You’ll still make mistakes, but (insert trading analogy here).

    For the record, the videos don’t bother me – and trolls will troll.

    Signed,

    Me
    B.A. Media Production w/focus on media performance
    University of Houston

  • Oslo Norway

    Heh, heh…So true…I had just pulled into the pits in Homestead during a world intro at a Suzuki introduction and I was hot, I was peeling the leathers off, and I liked the bike, and somebody stuffed a microphone in my face and there was a TV camera there and they asked me what I thought about the bike?

    Dude? It’s like hanging out in the pits! So I answered. “That thing pulls like a Ffffffffffuuu, freight train on the banks.”

    Nice job, Chris, and they aired it which was hilarious, anybody watching that would know exactly what almost came out of my mouth…

  • DavidyArica Freire

    I like words.

  • priap1sm

    The idiots feel as though the winner is the one that shouts the loudest. Don’t let ‘em get you down. Troy’s facial hair is sexy.

    • TroySiahaan

      Aww shucks. I’m blushing…

  • Andrew Capone

    The convergence of print and video is an issue for publishers coming at it from both sides. Until the digital era, TV stations and networks never had to write anything that wasn’t stuffed into a teleprompter or on cue cards. And NEVER had to deal with published feedback. They are having an awkward time shifting from broadcasting to digital journalism, with the often hilarious, yet agitating, trolling that accompanies each story.

    I, for one, prefer to read something when I am looking for something to read, and watching something when wanting to watch. I rarely click on video in a news stream, or when i settle down with an ipad to read. But it is absolutely essential for Motorcycle.com to play across the spectrum, especially in light of not having the benefit (or burden) of a legacy print vehicle. So far, you’re doing a hell of a job.

    And, I cannot wait to see the video (and print) comparo on those three bikes. I’ll weigh in with my incendiary Griso story.

  • JP

    I feel like this site has really stepped up its game in the past year and I have been visiting the site much more often. Personally, I don’t care how video-friendly the journalists are, all I want is good content.

    I give you guys props for allowing comments at all. I have seen many sites remove the ability to add comments because people cannot play nice. Most of the nasty comments are just a reflection of those that write them.

  • Luke

    This was a good article, but shouldn’t it have been video instead? :)

  • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

    Interesting. I studied graduate journalism back in the very early 90′s at NYU. Back then there were three choices: Newspaper, Magazine and Broadcast. I chose magazine, but did a lot of broadcast too, although I have a face for radio. The broadcast majors were really looked down upon by not only the print majors, but some of the print profs too. I bet things have changed quite a bit since then. Anyway, meeting my wife kind of interrupted things and I never did get it done and go into that field. Sometimes I regret it. I wonder if it’s as much fun as it looks. I went into IT and for the last 20+ years it’s made a living, but it’s the same old Ritz cracker. Don’t let the idiots get you down, I like reading your stuff.

  • Joe LaPadula

    Everyone over at Motorcycle.com is the best. From your facebook posts, video uploads and written articles, you guys give honest opinions and work hard to bring up interesting content and new insight onto things I could never personally experience.

    The world where everyone is a critic just emphasizes how rare it is to come across the individuals with weight to their words – And I believe we’re all fans of a good power to weight ratios.

    Thank you gents!

  • Toaster_Chicken

    Writing an article, your words are measured and analyzed. The words you chose may not necessarily be the ones you would personally, it’s the other side of the same coin but it’s not the same. Creating a video you’re far more organic and honest, having both an article and video from the same editor I think adds twice the content since we get two different approaches from the same individual. It’s fascinating and probably far more informative than just one or the other. When I say one or the other I mean print vs pre-scripted video review. Prescripted video reviews they just carefully mix in the reactions as flair.

    So if you were to ask me what I prefer? I prefer the honest improv video review with the weighed and measured written review from the same individuals. The rough edges give the videos character.

  • Backroad Bob

    You’ve pulled back the curtain and your secret’s out. Tricky next move, but always ignore the haters. They’re just jealous.

  • Old MOron

    Hey, anybody recognize this dude?

    http://youtu.be/Gvatje7Qzmw?t=2m49s