So You Wanna Be A Moto-Journalist – Editorial

Share this Article

To my knowledge Confucius never specifically referred to moto-journalism in his writings, but when the 6th century B.C. philosopher issued a proverb loosely interpreted today as “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” what other occupation could the man be implying?

Okay, being a MotoGP star would be nice, but let’s stay within the realm of what’s realistically attainable by mortal motorcyclists. Receiving a paycheck for riding on and writing about the latest and greatest motorized two-wheelers motorcycle OEMs have to offer seems more of an El Doradoan fantasy rather than bona fide career choice.

I can hear the cogs grinding to life in the minds of gearheads everywhere.

Got skills, you say. Been to some track days or maybe even own some amateur racing experience. Teacher gave you a B+ on your last high school English paper. That’s part of the equation, but then there’s the whole reporting and editing thing. What do you call it … journalism? You have to go to college for that? What a four-year drag. Who needs training on the principles of objectivity, accuracy and fact checking? If the internet’s proven one thing it’s that everyone’s opinion is balanced, insightful, CORRECTLY PUNCTUATED and reads like poetic manna from Mark Twain’s and J.K. Rowling’s love child.

But if you’re willing to incur the collegiate debt attaining your degree demands, an entry-level moto-journalism position with the earning power to cover the interest on your loan payments awaits.

What you have to look forward to – following a short, three-year initiation period of bike washing, chain lubing and maintaining the tire pressure of the magazine’s motor pool – is being entrusted with a loaner bike of your own. Something along the lines of a TU250X or maybe a Rebel.

Soon thereafter you’ll be whisked off to your first press launch covering a rebadged Victory-Davidson model that differs from its stablemate by way of handlebars and paint and told to write a 10,000-word story about said bike and have it on your boss’ desk the next morning.

And rest assured your boss, the editor-in-chief of the publication for which you work, will be a grizzled old biker who fondly remembers typesetting and reminds you at every chance that he craps more motorcycle knowledge in a day than you’ll attain in a lifetime. “Whaddya mean you’re uncertain whether or not a ’62 Matchless G50 has roller-tipped rockers? Who the f*#k doesn’t know that?”

bth_CrazyTypingGuyThere’s also the untold joy of hours spent in front of a computer screen writing the next great bike review and vainly attempting to say in a previously unsaid way that the 1000cc sportbike you just rode is fast. “The new Kawizuki Ninjbusa is so fast it: accelerates with a force equal to that of Superman’s ejaculate … whooped the Millenium Falcon in the Kessel Run … is being used as the propulsion unit in SpaceX’s next rocket.”

The archstone of any illustrious moto-journalism career hinges on your ability to find and marry an intelligent woman (oxymoron alert: smart women don’t willingly marry moto-journalists, you gotta trick them). A career woman with a stable profession, a benevolent understanding of your moto-fascination and one who won’t mind wiping your ass when you crash and break both your arms – think nurse, rocket scientist or Disney executive.

Editorial positions occasionally need filling, but the musical chairs of moto-journalism don’t stay vacant long. Never working a day in your life is neither impossible nor probable, but if being a moto-journalist is truly your aspiration, keep in mind the words of another philosopher, this one from the 1st century A.D., Lucius Seneca, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

On a good day, being a moto-journalist can make you jump for joy.

On a good day, being a moto-journalist can make you jump for joy.

Get Motorcycle.com in your Inbox
  • di0genes

    “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” There is a corollary here, ‘Turn what you love into a job, and it will just become work.’ I don’t know if this is true for moto-journalism, but it seems to be true for some moto mechanics I know.

    • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

      Good point. A lot of journos, including myself, have forsaken weekend rides because of all the riding we do Monday-Friday. The wife most often gets me on two wheels on weekends when she wants to go for a ride. Otherwise, my weekends are filled with chores and golf.

      • Kevin

        You can afford golf in SoCal? Maybe this job doesn’t pay so bad after all.

    • Kevin Duke

      While a moto-j job isn’t quite as glorious as we all once thought it was, it’s still the best job in the world as long as you don’t covet money.

  • Maverick Moto Media

    Having worked in the industry part time since 2007 and full time since 2009, I agree whole heartedly; especially the bit about having a wife with a stable job, particularly a high paying one; nobody has ever gotten rich as a moto-journalist…

    • Reid

      <— Newspaper reporter. Nobody has gotten rich as any kind of journalist. That's why being a moto-PR Shill is the way to go! Lots of money for easy work and you still get to kick around on scoots all the time.

  • HarryMyhre

    moto journos are way more unbiased than any other reviewers these days. A great moto journo can write a review of a Vespa LX50 scooter with the same enthusiasm he/she has for a big Honda Goldwing.

    • TroySiahaan

      True! I love scooters and Gold Wings!

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

    I had such a dream 23 years ago. Went to school for it too, then life intervened. Trying to get a job as a moto-journalist was and probably still is like trying to find an apartment in Manhattan by looking in the obituaries and it’s a small club too. Now I find myself more like the old grizzled sage you speak, except I am not so sage like and I never became a moto-journalist. Oh well. There’s always blogging. Dreams die hard. May be it’s best left for the younger folks.

  • Ken Condon

    I probably have one of the best moto-j situations, writing for MCN from my lake house in New England. I don’t get to test bikes, but that’s okay. It doesn’t pay enough on its own, but luckily I have another cool gig as a paid track day instructor (not many of those jobs, either). Add in a few other moto-related jobs and modest royalties from my book and I ends get met. Oh, and I also have a wife who brings home steady money to allow me to live this lifestyle. Thanks honey.

  • Oslo Norway

    It’s one of the few jobs you can go to and get your ass run over, so there’s that. It’s not so bad once the swelling goes down. New bike track intros and tire evaluations rock though.