Opinion: The right approach

There was a lot of interest in our recent call for a motorcycle reviewer. We got dozens of serious applicants – people who are experienced and well-qualified to ride and review bikes, and who come from a diversity of backgrounds. I read through every one, and so did Jacob Black, our managing editor, and then we compared notes. We’re sure the right person for Canada Moto Guide is in there somewhere and you’ll find out soon enough who made the cut.

People often tell me this is the best job in the world and yes, it has its moments, but as an overall profession, it can be a tough way for many people to make a living. It doesn’t matter if it’s motorcycles or cars: it’s highly competitive and the goalposts are constantly moving. Just being a talented writer or having a great product is no longer enough. Most automotive publications live or die based on their incomes from advertising, and advertising success is based on having a large and qualified audience.

Some try to succeed by just boosting their clicks (they run Top 10 lists that create 11 separate page views for a story, or they include a passing “clickbait” reference to a celebrity, or sex), while others try by targeting high-quality content at the people who really want to read it. CMG uses the second approach, and it makes each page view much more valuable to an advertiser.

Our purchase last year by autoTRADER.ca gave us a sound financial platform, and we’re very fortunate to be able to separate our Editorial content from our Advertising. In journalism, this is known as the separation of Church and State and it means that we don’t need to run stories that will keep our advertisers happy.

In CMG’s case, this means we can ride a motorcycle and, if we hate it, we can tell the reader that we hate it, and why. If we love it, we can say so, and why. And if we’re wrong, we answer to the readers. That’s how it should be.

If we’re honest about our opinions,  and mindful of our audience, then the reader will trust us and come back to us and ultimately heed our advice when it comes time to choose which motorcycle or helmet or chain cleaner to buy. If we reward your time with a smile, or useful information, or a compelling tale, then you’ll come back for more, and everyone benefits.

These days, as with cars, there are very few truly bad motorcycles because the manufacturers have had several decades to figure out how to build them, but the advent of electric motorcycles promises a whole new era of trial and error.

And so there’s a lot riding on the jacketed shoulders of whomever is chosen as a reviewer for Canada Moto Guide. It’s a rare opportunity for the right person, and we’re taking it very seriously. Hang in there – we’re looking forward to meeting this new reviewer as much as you are.

3 thoughts on “Opinion: The right approach”

  1. Ya know, in hindsight I would have been a lot more serious about my “application”… but I do applaud CMG for striving to keep its integrity, it’s become lost for the most part. Cycle World in its heyday did it best, today I think only Car & Driver has maintained its sincerity.

    My advice to the new guy or gal – entertain but don’t loose sight (aka Top Gear) that it’s 1st about the machine being reviewed, inform but don’t forget motorcycles are more about the intangibles, and always remember that you’re writing to probably the most diverse audiences out there so think wide! Then you might be fine. If in doubt, refer to Larry, Costa, Bondo and teh current crop, they seem to have figured it out.

  2. If you guys keep talking like that there’ll be no invites to press launches, steak dinners and fancy hotels. Then I’ll have to turn to one of the other journo websites to read something that gets ripped from the corporate handout. But if you guys can continue to get me to read a full article on a scooter then who needs to eat from the golden trough. Stay classy, the CMG way 😉

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