In the wake of our stories on the freebies handed out to motoring
hacks, Sam Tissear takes a look at which motoring mags and newspapers
tell it like it is:

I have been
buying motoring magazines around the English speaking world since I was five years
old. Thirty years and much money later, I consider myself an expert
on motoring mags.

The US mags have become a joke and the more hard-nosed Pommy and Aussie
journos have started taking shots at their weak performance. One Pommy
contributor, Jamie Kitman working for CAR
, observed after the 2003 Detroit Motor Show that the “half bright” and “plain
ignorant” US journos were sucked into a GM PR spin on a recent release.
If you read a US mag you’ll see what I mean. You’ll see the gutless
old “you can’t pick them” line on a four-car road test. Or you’ll read one-car-to-a-page reports where five cars
are tested and all reports are virtually identical.

Motor in Australia has become very
cosy with the companies. Most of its stories are positive and its
journos are not as good as those who work for Wheels.

Wheels and CAR UK are the
best mags in the English-speaking world. Wheels has some real grumps.
Peter Carey is one. This man is hard to please and he regularly gets
the bucket out. He will bag anything. Then you look at
the legendary Peter Robinson. This guy is recognised globally as one of
the very best. Wheels has often p*ssed off companies. It was threatened by Ford in
1994 when the EF Falcon was struck out of Car of the Year
contention because of suspension problems.

But the main
blight in Australia is the newspaper guys. They regularly reach far
more positive conclusions than the mag journos, and the regional newspaper
journos can be especially woeful.

Peter Fray

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