Home » Car And Driver Cuts Half Its Issues As Media Continues To Feel Like It’s Dying

Car And Driver Cuts Half Its Issues As Media Continues To Feel Like It’s Dying

Car And Driver Ts2
ADVERTISEMENT

Car and Driver magazine sent out a note this morning informing people that, yes, they were going to cut their 12 annual issues to just six issues. And, yes, they’ll be charging you the same amount. This joins the long list of pretty much awful news about media because media, as we know it, is dying. The good news is you can save it.

Yeah, this is going to be a plea to become a member. Please do that. If you love The Autopian and can afford to support it I hope you will do it. No one else is going to do the hard work of figuring out what an “Ion Flush” is while also buying terrible, terrible vans and writing about it.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The sad reality is that I know way more journalists who have lost jobs than gained jobs in the last few years. In just the last two weeks we’ve seen the venerable and important (to me at least) Pitchfork get folded into GQ and, of course, this resulted in a bunch of layoffs. And then Sports Illustrated, the biggest name in sports journalism for the entire time I’ve been alive, laid off almost its entire staff. Plenty of sites I love feel like hollowed-out versions of themselves.

There was a sense when I was a young blogger that we, as bloggers, were going to be the undoing of journalism. This didn’t turn out to be the case as blogs and bloggers, as much as anyone, are susceptible to the same negative pressure created in the marketplace. It’s easy to point to social media and, especially, Facebook, as being responsible for the death of your favorite websites. There’s some truth to that, but it wasn’t primarily journalists clamoring to give up all their content to Facebook. It was the money.

And, of course, private equity is bad for journalism. It’s almost impossible to argue otherwise (many of the writers here left a site that was ruined by private equity ownership and is rumored to be looking to dump some of its assets). Sports Illustrated was, indeed, “choked out by private equity morons” who thought that they could do better because they went to The Wharton School or whatever. But Sports Illustrated had already been a troubling case before that when it was owned by a major establishment media company.

ADVERTISEMENT

Both Car and Driver (Hearst), which just announced the reduction in issues, and Pitchfork (Conde Nast) are part of media companies that are more than a century old. The Washington Post is already owned by one of the world’s richest men and it’s been reducing staff at a quick rate. So it can’t just be private equity.

I’ve worked for numerous media companies over the last few years as an employee or a contractor/consultant and there were always two major problems:

  1. Advertisers were the target instead of readers/subscribers.
  2. The people who were responsible for making the money didn’t know, or didn’t care, about the journalism.

Look at pretty much any outlet, automotive or otherwise, and see if that tracks. It probably does. Go to an established car magazine’s website and see how easy it is to actually see the articles behind all the ads. How much content is there and how much of what you see is about awards that are essentially made up to get more money from advertisers and not inform the reader (even if the journalists often do a great job of informing the reader).

I’m always trying to limit the number of ads on this website but there’s immense external pressure to add more because that’s what advertisers expect. Publishers are penalized in our current system for putting fewer ads on the website.

Then there are the newer-style automotive outlets that try to overwhelm Google News and other platforms with multiple articles on the same thing written not by experts, as we try to do, but by a young and inexperienced writer who is happy to take $20 for an article. Expertise is expensive. I’m not going to name the sites, but you’ve probably clicked on their links. Ask yourself: Do you know anything about those authors? Artificial intelligence is only going to make this worse, of course. There are plenty of sites using AI to support their written journalism.

ADVERTISEMENT

When layoffs hit they sometimes cut sales staff and admins but they pretty much always let go of journalists, which tells you all you need to know about how much the journalism matters to the people who make the decisions.

If this is depressing to you, here are some things you can do about it. I’m going to put it in terms of supporting The Autopian but it’s true for other sites as well, including DefectorAftermath, and many others.

  1. Become a member! The more money we make from membership the less we have to get elsewhere. It’s that simple. Right now we have about 1,100 paying members and they cover about 10-15% of our overhead, which is almost entirely staff. Our goal is to get to 20-30% as it allows us to deal with shifting ad markets.
  2. Subscribe to our newsletter. It’s the thing we most own in terms of our audience.
  3. Follow us on Flipboard, Apple News, Google News, et cetera.
  4. Bookmark our homepage!

That’s the big stuff. It’s no guarantee that we’ll last forever, but our goal isn’t to try and squeeze out a revenue multiple in order to sell this thing in two years. Our goal is to make the world’s best car website, make it every day, and do it in a way that’s sustainable for everyone involved forever.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
173 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago

For me, the Autopian is like a subscription to C&D but one where you get to talk with other readers around the globe about the articles AND harangue the journalists who wrote them.

Sure beats the barely-informed discussions of the school playgrounds and then lunch tables of my youth…”no way man, Trans Am is fastest, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Just look at that decal.” or “Yeah, I have that poster…Countach forever!”

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
2 months ago

As far as I’m concerned, private equity can suck my nuggets. Why? I worked for Chrysler Corporation, then DaimlerChrysler, then Chrysler LLC. Those vampires at Cerberus hollowed out what was left of Chrysler then cast the employees aside. My whole department was outsourced. I’m happily working for another automaker these days, so maybe all’s well that ends well.

More recently: my wife was working for a company that rates things (let’s just say that they are Power-ful) and despite 5+ years of faithful service she was laid off in favor of someone who has the skill to do maybe 60% of her job but is probably being paid less than 50% of what she made. Private equity cost-cutting strikes again!

I’m an Autopian member because good things cost money. I look at it like my support for the local NPR radio station.

Greensoul
Greensoul
2 months ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

Private equity firms are evilness personified and should be outlawed or regulated out of business entirely

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
2 months ago

I re-read the 1983 C/D comparison test of luxury sport sedans about once a year — not because I forgot how the Dodge 600ES fared when Csere plowed into a steer, but because it was some of the most entertaining writing I’d ever seen, before or since. I hope C/D can keep on truckin’ because more information sources are better than fewer, but I haven’t been a subscriber in years. OTOH, I upgraded to Velour here a few months ago and am thrilled to have done so. Thanks, Matt, for doing what you can to keep the shiny side up on this thing.

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
2 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Buchholz

The best part of current C/D are their “from the archives” reviews. I find it interesting that you have to click through their site to get to them and they don’t post to the main page when they are added, but they put up about 4-5 a week. Lovely journalism that hits the feels – and probably the main reason I love the Autopian and the staff here as they all exude their individual writing styles and themes, but all importantly are allowed to do so. This is just like old C/D. Even the “tales from the slack” shows the behind the scenes dialogue taking place to make the content we enjoy.

Side note: The amount of my peers who push “podcasts” makes me chuckle as I don’t want to HEAR I want to READ. I get that it’s done to multitask, but I’d rather put on NPR than some podcast that feels like they take 20 minutes of reading content into 2 hours of story.

Beceen
Beceen
2 months ago
Reply to  NebraskaStig

Couldn’t agree more on the reading, not listening part; I’m curently looking for a car for my wife (kids hauler/grocery getter, so it excites me like buying a washing machine, but still) and wanted to READ some reviews… guess what, I can WATCH countless youtube “review/test” videos (each is approx. 4 minutes long), but for the love of something holy there is nothing of quality to actually bite into, read, ponder… Not to mention I do not know any of the so called reviewers – they’re not professional journalists, just some guys with a (sponsored) opinion. Damn, I’m old.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Beceen

Reading is faster, it lets you skim, and I don’t fully understand how someone can do something while listening to a podcast (and presumably paying attention).

That said, different people take in and retain information differently. Some folks are best at reading, others at listening, yet others at watching videos. So it’s good to have options.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago

The day I accept an offer on whatever the next job is, I’m signing up.

AlterId
AlterId
2 months ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

I succumbed to David’s pleas a couple of weeks before I got laid off due to cost-cutting, although in my case it was about cutting costs to pander to market analysts rather than the bright ideas of private equity. So, good luck to you – I’m sure you won’t need it – and what I spent on a “Vinyl” membership wouldn’t buy all that many cans of Fancy Feast for picnicking under an overpass anyway. I’ve checked.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago
Reply to  AlterId

Heh, yeah so right after I posted this my severance came through. I cancelled Netflix, and this is way more valuable to me, so I’m happy to stick to the Vinyl like a thigh in a southern summer.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Good luck! Job searches are the worst. 🙁

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
2 months ago

I joined! I had planned to be a member from day one… but for some forgotten reason I didn’t join when I made my account and never got around to to becoming one until now.

ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
2 months ago

Been a subscriber to C/D since late-1993. It’s disappointing to hear the cut from 11 annual issues (March/April had already been combined) to 6, but maybe it will result in a better product. Either way, I’ll stick with them and go down with the ship if that’s what happens.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago
Reply to  ColoradoFX4

1989 subscriber here. I thought they were actually down to just 10 a year.

Also, I just got a notice on my most recent Hot Rod that they’re going from 12 to just 4 a year.

Sigh…

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
2 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

You are correct and the article is incorrect. They recently went from 12 to 10 issued. Maybe one or two years ago. So for them to go to 6 issues so soon is a bad sign. I never thought it would come to this. I’ve been a subscriber since the early 90s and have all my issues. I was just moving some around and noticed how much thicker they were back then. I might go down with the ship too.

ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
2 months ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

I have all my old issues too, and it’s sad to see how much less there is in each issue than 20-25 years ago. What gives me a little hope is seeing what has happened to Road & Track: fewer issues, but each issue is substantial with a lot of content and great photos. If C/D goes the same way, essentially “less is more,” I’d be happy.

Cal67
Cal67
2 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Hot Rod and Car Craft (and many similar magazines) used to have articles on how to actually do something yourself. They long ago became much more of a collection of infomercials and in my opinion that is what is killing/ has killed them. I quite buying either years ago. Car Craft started in 1953 and died in 2020, less than a shell of it’s former self.

ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
2 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

You’re right, it’s 10 a year.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago

The problem is create something that people want and is profitable. Then bean counters promises to make it more profitable. They fail and start cutting what people liked. And then even further cuts are needed because they add crap and cut content.
Just like junkyard wars. A great ripoff from British TV. It was good but wonks said we will make it better. Eliminated educated hosts and replaced with a tough couple of morons yelling and screaming and breaking windows. Eliminated teams from all over and replaced with teams that Noone liked.then supposedly hide needed parts to build stupid already designed crap. Ruined the show and went on to ruin other shows.

Turkina
Turkina
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

One of my nephews is an engineering type, and I tried to get him to watch Junkyard Wars. Nope, he wanted to watch some violent pew pew movie at the age of 8 or something. The other nephew, he’d rather watch vacantly watch some meme garbage on YouTube for cheap laughs instead of anything fulfilling.

Dogapult
Dogapult
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I don’t think that Scrapheap Challenge was that much different, having watched a lot of both. They always needed to hide parts, or the builds would have gotten VERY samey. I lament that both of them are nearly lost media these days, and would love to see them brought back out in at least DVD quality, to be enjoyed again.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Dogapult

Even when they created teams that stayed week after week with impossible build challenges except for everything was placed in the yard?

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
2 months ago

Around 1985 I got my first subscription to a car mag (R&T), and read it cover to cover every month, right up until Peter Egan retired. I miss that guys writing.

Chronometric
Chronometric
2 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

Peter Egan was the boss. He wrote about cars and taught you about life.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago

Look, I got a Ferrari to keep running. Give us your fucking money.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I’ve got three British Leyland cars from the early ’80s to keep running. I’m already giving you all the money I can spare.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Great idea to keep your ferry running. Post what you need and cost. And agree to complete tasks for said items. Just kidding but things that make you think.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I’m shameless, but I’m not that shameless.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

You wasted at least one MOT inspection’s worth of money, you cur. That’s on HOOOONK you.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Someone’s looking to get called out in an article I see.

Chronometric
Chronometric
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Bougie kindly requests the peasants toil a wee bit harder. He’s got eight hungry cylinders to feed.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I appreciate the honesty, heh. I got to a point where I wanted to respond “because I want to race my Porsche” when potential employers asked, “so, why are you interested in this job?” Because I want to race my Porsche, and this job would pay me money that I would use to race my Porsche. This isn’t hard, folks. I have priorities and they have the other horsie badge up front.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago

I am not surprised cuts are still happening. I spent 30 years in newspapers and most of the later years was screaming at any who would listen we can fight just don’t serve yourself up for slaughter. The real media just simply committed suicide.
1. It cost to create content and print. What did they do? Charge the content costs to the print side and giveaway content for free on the internet.
2. Agree to give Google free access and use to their content in exchange for free web page design.
3. Fail to work with government what constitutes news and journalists VS porn, slander, opinion, etc so now we are all journalists despite no skills.
Quite a few other mistakes but I have made a New Years Resolution to be less judgemental and sparky in my posts.

DadBod
DadBod
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Dude you nailed it, giving away the product for free on the Internet was absolute suicide. And the ad tech back then was so easily gamed it was just fucking stupid all around.

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
2 months ago

2.The people who were responsible for making the money didn’t know, or didn’t care, about the journalism.

The same problem exists with the mid tier motovlogging influencers on youtube. They’re making money exploiting impressionable subscribers while lacking ethics and integrity.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Scott Ross

Half right. Noone was donating money to nonbiased news gathering. You have the NYT that subscribers quit just because the editors decided to have 1 conservative writer on staff. The Grey Lady sank on that sad day. Clearly they don’t want facts they want their narrow minded views supported. Granted the conservative approach has their own biased news but the flagship of independent news sank.

Turkina
Turkina
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

It’s hard to find the right sort of conservative writer that hasn’t been caught up in the churn of the past two decades. Being thoughtful and reasonable gets you burned at the stake on both sides. I like it when a guest opinion writer from the Cato Institute or such writes an article and lays it all out, supporting their stances with information. But usually those are academics or policy wonks. I might not agree, but my worldview has become more informed. To come up in journalism as a conservative writer means you’ve starved in an unheated apartment unless you’ve bent the knee to those with an agenda.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Turkina

True but now it is both sides eating Ramen.

Turkina
Turkina
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Dude, I could live a happy life eating Ramen. But not the Ramen you’re talking about 😉

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Turkina

Not a fan of the old 10 for $1 with 4 flavors that were all salt? BTW these now are about 60 cents a piece.

Turkina
Turkina
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Haha, you know what I’m talking about, real ramen instead of instant!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Turkina

I heard the instant Ramen was a poor substitute for something far better tasting but I am not aficionado. Ask me my favorite Asian food my answer is buffet. LOL

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Nah, their conservative columnists suck and their news reporting isn’t what it used to be.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I’ve been reading the NYT since about 1986 and I can’t really agree with that. They continue to do really good journalism and long-form research pieces, and their op-ed pages has a variety of opinions, including actually-conservative ones.

Mike F.
Mike F.
2 months ago

To someone who grew up with Yates, Bedard, Davis, Csere, etc., that hurts. But it’s not unexpected. Here’s hoping that The Autopian can serve as a successful model to replace the print organizations!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

Well given the elites attitude towards the masses no surprise the masses ignore the elites.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago

Considering there are no new cars on the US market to write about – except for Mustangs.
…and “Lifted Trucks & Guns” failed because their audience doesn’t actually read.

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

I think this has more truth than possibly intended, not so much in the stereotypes, but in that there is so little of interest being built. Sure print is dying, but I think there’s more in this case, even. For about 30 years, I lived and breathed cars, but now I struggle to find anything of interest in the all the uninspired safety-nagging, useless-tech, monochromatic, throwaway appliance garbage being built now. Even the committee-approved exotics can barely invoke a yawn from me. Even when I wasn’t into a certain type of vehicle, I found them interesting, but whole categories of them are extinct or nearly so and primarily only residing in the high premium sectors: wagons, land yachts that actually rode well and weren’t cramped (if still very space inefficient), large personal coupes, coupes of other sizes from smoking-jacket to sporting, hot hatches, warm hatches, cheap and cheerful shitboxes, simple off roaders, simple low end sports cars, any sports cars (as opposed to GTs), small pickups, car-based pickups (and I don’t mean unibody pickups, I mean cars with pick up rear ends), small vans, cars with actual tow ratings, and probably some others I’m forgetting without even getting into subcategories like hardtop vs pillar coupes. Now it’s pickups and C/SUVs in various sizes, sedans in fewer sizes, and a couple miscellaneous remnants from once varied categories and they almost all wear an overstyled corporate branded face so they look like Matryoshka dolls instead of differentiated styling for individual models no matter how poorly the brand face translates throughout the lineup. My mother said when I was 3, I would amaze people like a circus act by identifying cars not just by their makes, but their models and even the years with some (I think she might have exaggerated, but she probably wasn’t too far off). Now I can barely tell a brand, never mind an individual model, and to make it worse, they all have nonsense alphanumeric names nobody GAF about because some legacy eunuch from a “prestigious” business school was taught this is what works. What do people remember? They remember the models that stood out on their own, that had proper damn names or at least alphanumerics that made some friggin’ sense. When people remember, say, Dodge, they remember Chargers, Challengers, and Vipers, not Custom 880s or Polaras (or a lot worse). That is how a brand gets noticed and remembered. Nobody thinks the low end shitbox they settled for is the cool car made by the same brand just because they share a similar grille and headlight signature (that probably looks awkward on the shitbox). I digress as usual. Anyway, if I can barely maintain interest (it’s the industry in general that I follow, not so much individual cars anymore), what’s going to get more than a few weird kids interested in even looking up much on their phone for free when cars, insurance, maintenance, and fuel are all outrageously expensive and the vehicles so void of personality and charm—even bad charm—never mind get them to buy a magazine?

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago
Reply to  Cerberus

This.
And this is why websites like Autopian are interesting to people like us – and other sites have so many page clicks about old cars.
Because there are so few interesting new cars available in the US anymore that the automotive media has little to report on – certainly not enough for a monthly print magazine.

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

Unfortunately, I also think it’s what’s led to the prices of just about anything older going way up (was looking for an aero-window Caprice coupe recently as I figured I might be able to get one cheap and I wouldn’t mind a big, simple cruiser that was a little different and the prices just made me shake my head, so I looked for a later B-body and still had to snort with derision—the prices aren’t outrageous on their own, but they’re outrageous for those cars). I also have my doubts that the prices of Boomer-generation cars will collapse when they age out in large numbers as I’ve seen written a number of times. Seven-figure ‘Cudas? Yeah, probably not, but I don’t think the low end is going to get very low. People point to the drop in pre-war car prices (for non-exotics) as the Greatest generation aged out (I was seriously looking at a 1st generation Lincoln Continental for what seemed like a very reasonable price for something so classy before finding out that’s about all they’re worth, but even though I was interested, I’m not quite interested enough), but I think that’s a poor comparison because pre-war cars are far more removed from the modern driving environment and more difficult to restomod things like brakes without completely changing their character, plus there are far less of them, parts are more difficult to get, and they don’t have the same cultural lifespan that have kept things like ’50s Cadillacs, Mustangs, etc. well known and regarded by younger generations.

Healpop
Healpop
2 months ago

Alright, you got me. I’m not sure why I haven’t until now, but you’ve got yourself another subscriber. You guys do great work and I want to make sure that continues. Just make sure some of that money goes into getting Torch a nice new fuel line for that big heart of his.

10001010
10001010
2 months ago

I don’t know if Optima Batteries is still a sponsor or not but you can let them know I bought a new red top this weekend. Feel free to claim that this purchase was 100% influenced by their sponsorship of this fine autojournalism establishment.

Citrus
Citrus
2 months ago

It’s depressing to watch people with lots of degrees and not much sense try to strip away anything that might give people joy and replace it with something cheaper and possibly AI generated.

I don’t currently subscribe due to personal monetary issues but this site is a ray of hope in this depressing landscape.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

From what I’ve seen, AI-written articles (I mean, I really hope they’re AI-written as otherwise, who on earth would write so badly?!) read like a prose version of the tech specs section of an owner’s manual – objectively factual, but completely devoid of any connection to the human that’s the driver. And that connection is what good automotive journalism (like here!) is all about.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jack Trade
Mike F.
Mike F.
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Maybe they’ll never be able to replicate that connection with the reader via AI, but AI has a lot of work going into it. We’ll see what happens.

Citrus
Citrus
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

First, an editorial voice is important. On this website, for example, there are clear focuses and priorities in each writer which gives their articles their own unique perspective and make them compelling. An AI, by its very nature, is generic – you train a bot on a the stack of the same text, and it’ll be the same as another AI trained on the same text. You can’t follow a particular AI and find it compelling because it’s just condensed form of other work.

Second, why would you want to replace human interactions and the sparks that make us unique and interesting with what is effectively predictive text? There is value in the human experience, there’s nothing to be gained intellectually or culturally by cutting us off from each other even more. If anything, this world needs more chances for more people to talk, interact, and become close – and a website can do that. I have real friends I met through comment sections on websites that fostered a community.

Flatisflat
Flatisflat
2 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

There’s “value” and then there’s “monetization”. There are plenty of things we value that we rarely pay for, and there are plenty of things that are awful but that are monetized.

The latter keeps the lights on.

Mike F.
Mike F.
2 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Hey, I never indicated that I thought that having AI replace meat-based writers would be a good thing. On the contrary, I fervently hope that what we find is that it truly is impossible to come up with anything artificial that can not be recognized as such. But as I said, it’s early days with AI – we don’t know how far it can be taken. Yeah, bummer.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

I don’t want to read a bot regurgitating a press release. I want to read a real human’s take on things. Large language models don’t experience things. They don’t dig up new information that isn’t already in their dataset, as in like, reaching out to sources and doing the footwork on a larger story. People do.

The best thing to happen to some of these AI “writers” would be unleashing me in the server room with a BFH.

Mike F.
Mike F.
2 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

100% agree, I’ll open the server room door.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
2 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

THIS

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

> I don’t want to read a bot regurgitating a press release.

Part of the issue is that a noticeable amount of content out there, written by real humans, not even in soulless content farms in Bangladesh or Albania, is basically that.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago

Yeah, and case in point: I don’t read it. Why would I bother with an anonymous ad-laden hellhole when the manufacturer’s press release tells me the same thing?

Then again, we as a very online world need to have a reckoning about reliable sources. Too many people either never had or never got an updated version of the lecture on which sources are trustworthy, which ones aren’t, and how to spot the differences between them. http://peeballs.net.virus.spam/pizzagate/djgksjkldsafs/newkiagt-40 isn’t going to tell you anything you can trust.

ETA: Goshdarnit, don’t click peeballs.net.virus.spam. IDK why it’s hyperlinking that when I tried to go for a VERY OBVIOUS FAKE ADDRESS. Haha.

Last edited 2 months ago by Stef Schrader
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Yeah, it’s sad. And it’s getting worse. The LA Times just laid off a big chunk of the newsroom.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago

Ugh, I had hoped the bleeding would stop with the EOY. I guess not. 🙁 LA Times, Pitchfork, Sports Illustrated—where does it end? Where is the bottom?

I’m just glad I’m not hearing about layoffs with the C&D news.

Citrus
Citrus
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

“Objectively factual” is being very generous.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

True. But I’m sure it’ll get better over time. Or not, if they keep getting trained with what’s on the internet only.

Your excellent comments above also point to something that’s come to my mind of late – that AIs are getting good at describing things, and even interactions of certain like things, but not the kind of disparate interaction we value here – human to machine.

Because once we do have that interaction, we then interact with others who’ve done likewise, which both builds our connections to each other and to our machines.

It’s all just so human and I suspect, fairly impenetrable to artificial intelligences for a good long while.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

You forgot the confident-sounding nonsense part. “Hallucinations,” the large-language model hawkers call ’em.

Sane folks would just call ’em “lies” or “wrong.” These glorified chatbots are garbage at actually getting facts right.

Last edited 2 months ago by Stef Schrader
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Totally. It seems a bad consequence of the internet that gives them their information base, that there some people tend to believe something simply if it’s authoritatively presented to them. So it proliferates, and before long, a chatbot is telling you that that Elvis is in fact alive or something (and yeah, I had to think a few minutes to come up with a non-political example!)

Or perhaps, a bad consequence of the programming architecture…garbage in, garbage out.

Citrus
Citrus
2 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

It’s even possible that, given the methods used, they will never get facts right. Because it’s glorified predictive text, trends in what happens in sentences don’t necessarily align with factual information.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Crap in, crap out. A lot of good writers don’t want these systems trained on their hard work. So, unless you straight-up steal from better sources (good luck with that lawsuit, and I hope the absolute worse for anyone who ends up getting justifiably sued for stealing content), you end up with a low-quality dataset with an ever-expanding pool of drivel (some AI, some just bad) feeding the potential answers. It doesn’t end up serving the readers, and it wastes a lot of energy in the process.

Last edited 2 months ago by Stef Schrader
RalliartWagon
RalliartWagon
2 months ago

I’ll go against the grain a bit and say that I will stay subscribed to C&D (20 years now) for two main reasons:

  • Photography. I don’t know if I qualify for old guy status (I’m 35), but the photos in print are still better to look at than even the highest quality online. Yes, I have modern tech/screens.
  • Technical/testing prowess. C&D goes deeper into the technical specifications than any other mainstream source, and their testing of cars is peerless, in my opinion. Most others publish the obvious acceleration/braking, but they go deep into various roadholding, lane-change, accel rollouts, top gear accel, and also center of gravity, H-points, weight distributions, suspensions configurations, etc. I respect this.

The Autopian doesn’t do performance testing, in fact they cite C&D frequently. I like to know what a car will actually do, regardless of whether I will ever achieve that performance myself. I also think it helps hold automakers accountable to produce cars that continue to perform well.
Just my opinion.

RalliartWagon
RalliartWagon
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Thanks for the reply Matt. Similarly, my comment did not intend anything against The Autopian; I enjoy the content and appreciate its place in the automotive landscape. I think C&D has its place as well. I will continue to support both!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Nothing against C&D but I am not as big of fan of the speak I like the everyman entertainment approach that explains stuff to me I a clear fun manner.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  RalliartWagon

Hell, I probably need to subscribe over there, too, now that I’ve got a pretty stable job. They do a ton of good work. I use their instrumented tests as BS checks all the time.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
2 months ago
Reply to  RalliartWagon

I agree, and it’s one of the reasons I continue to subscribe.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
2 months ago

I have been a member here since the inception of Autopian. I decided to support you, because you aren’t just using the topic of cars as content in a pre-formed cookie-cutter commercial media enterprise, with profit motivation as your God, shareholders as your high priests, and such business malarky as your modus operandi.

You are people, who already have a historical tendency to geek-out over cars, who want to try to create a community/space for other like-minded people to congregate. And in the process, hopefully make enough bucks to put bread on the table. Most of the commentariat have a similar rationale for spending time here.

The business case has to work of course, or there will be no community/space. But the point of the thing isn’t to milk every visitor’s click for profit, like hawkers stripping marks on the midway at the county fair.

One needs to appreciate that ‘the media’ are always in a state of transition, and that this has been the case during most of its evolution. Consumers will always choose the resources with the lowest barrier to entry, and most rapid means of delivery, to access the information they seek. As time passes, this creates a pressure to be first to break news, fastest to react, and easiest to access. And that pressure destroys media that can’t compete.

So the logical response of any content provider to this spiral to the bottom, is not to play that game. If you try, you will chase your tail until you disappear.

Successful enterprises in THIS environment have to do something else besides simply throwing out articles. They have to build a community, and cultivate content which is derived organically from the members of that community.

Autopian is doing that. And you will continue to thrive as long as you do so.

Forget it, and what has happened elsewhere, will happen here too.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

I am a supporter since membership was offered due to well written entertaining car stories and not idiot children writing political content while substitution of swear words I place of facts like the old site.

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
2 months ago

My mom got me a subscription to C+D in the sixth grade. I noticed that no one in our small town was driving a then-current 964 Porsche 911, so I decided to get good grades so I could get a scholarship and go to college to maybe one day afford one. I never got a 964 or 993, but the 996 sure seemed like an achievement. This makes me sad.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago

It’s a great achievement. And speaks to how cars can inspire us well beyond themselves.

I used to read it (along with R&T, MT, etc.) at the library, as my parents weren’t that cool. But I poured over the articles about Mustangs (Fox body iteration) and teenage Jack vowed that when he could get one, he would. Took me until 2002 and she was an SN95, but I did it…and still own her.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jack Trade
SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
2 months ago

I grew up in the lower middle class. Probably not far from poverty line until my father got some promotions.

He worked for the local Mercedes distributor and it was my lifelong goal to work hard and be able to afford a Benz.

Some four decades later now I am… comfortable enough. I’ve had pretty much all the other Germans but somehow the urge for a Merc just isn’t there anymore.

But yeah… cars can be quite a motivator.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  SNL-LOL Jr

… Get an older Benz. 🙂

SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
2 months ago

Oh things I’d do for a 190E….

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago

<3 911 FTW.

I still need to buy one. An aircooled 911 is still my dream car.

Last edited 2 months ago by Stef Schrader
Tbird
Tbird
2 months ago

C/D subscriber since 1991. Disappointing but not surprising, I agree the magazine has fallen off in content in recent years but actually seems to be on the upswing under the new editor. R&T went bi-monthly a few years ago, the issues are gorgeous but lacking new car content.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
2 months ago
Reply to  Tbird

I may give them another shot. I had let my subscription lapse years ago, until I saw the issue that had the overhead shot of Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 on the cover – I think Jack Baruth wrote something about the magazine’s then-new version. I resubscribed, and appreciated the photography and content again. Clearly something fell away for me, because I let it lapse again. I actually don’t mind a lack of new-car-review content, as I can get that plenty of places. The things I enjoyed about R&T BITD tended to be things like the way road tests used to be but no longer are, thetechnical articles and old-car pieces, Peter Egan, and the Formula One race reports (I’m really dating myself with that last one.)

Last edited 2 months ago by Theotherotter
Autonerdery
Autonerdery
2 months ago

This is tough news. My C/D subscription just turned 30 last month. The last few years have been a little hard to justify because by the time I get my print issue, which seems to get thinner every month, I’ve already read ~85% of its contents online, for free.

When my grandfather passed away several years ago, I inherited his library of Road & Track issues, and his subscription. Both went back to 1950. You have no idea what a resource those old issues are—well worth the not-inconsiderable space they take up in my house. But I’ve let the subscription lapse at this point, because the reimagined, and very expensive, “lifestyle” version of R&T doesn’t speak to my automotive interests, and doesn’t strike me as a useful source of information in the future, now that their road tests (and once-incomparable data panels) are basically a thing of the past. That’s a nearly 75-year-long relationship that was no longer worth sustaining.

I’ve only been a member here for a few months. There’s so much to love here, but there’s also a lot of nuts-and-bolts information about more or less every major new car release, and how they tie into the bigger picture of the market, that I’ve yet to see any online platform cover anywhere near as well as the print mags do, or at least did until very recently, and websites leave no historical record for the future like the thousands of issues in my rumpus room have done. That makes it tough to say I would take what I’m still spending on my C/D sub and shift it to upgrade my membership here, but this news also makes it harder to justify holding out—no good options.

EXL500
EXL500
2 months ago

Motor Trend is also going quarterly like R&T, although they promise higher quality and commensurate content.

Then again MT destroyed Velocity TV.

Last edited 2 months ago by EXL500
Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
2 months ago
Reply to  EXL500

I almost joined MT just to watch their shows. Then they tripled the cost. Now it’s just the few and far between newer ones on their Roku streaming channel

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
2 months ago
Reply to  EXL500

Discovery destroyed Velocity TV

EXL500
EXL500
2 months ago

Either way MT TV sucks now.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  EXL500

This is the problem. You shouldn’t just go with a defacto quarterly edition. It should be x amount of issues based on the important occurrence of the subject. New vehicle releases, big auctions, safety inspection data, recalls, etc. Why base it on every 3 months.
I mean SI doesn’t have a bikini issue in January. And quite frankly why have a bikini issue that increases sales 20% of q issue and cut other issues?

Last edited 2 months ago by Mr Sarcastic
Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

SI doesn’t have any issues anymore, and that sucks. 🙁

Some media company owners deserve to be thrown into a volcano for what they’ve done to regular people who just want to like, keep a solid job and live an okay life.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Sorry if readers stop buying the media company has no duty to keep people employed. People stop buying these is no money to pay employees. Where is the money supposed to come from?

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

An easy spot to cut costs in a LOT of media enterprises is executive pay. Oh, and not overpaying for a company and then saddling it with your ill-advised vulture capital debt is another solid idea. SI’s failure wasn’t mag sales in the end, but rather, the idiotic company structure where their whole publication was farmed out to an entirely different, but still very stupid company by a very, very stupid parent company: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2024/01/greed-killed-sports-illustrated.html

Also, rely less on spammy display advertising that drives everyone away, and (hindsight is 20/20 with Facebook’s lies on this one) don’t get caught up in weird trend cycles that require major shifts in your business model without any solid plan for long-term success (hello, pivot to video). Find less irritating revenue streams that won’t bleed users from your pages—subscriptions, sponsored content/events (provided they’re done in an ethical, clearly labeled way that doesn’t tank your publications’ reputation), or being monetarily supported through a different line of work (hi, Galpin!) come to mind.

A lot of the reporting on outlets like Defector—which intentionally prioritized keeping its writers employed at a decent salary—is pretty eye-opening. No one’s getting rich there, but it’s stable. That was the intention. No wild hire-and-fire, pump-and-dump cycles, and comfortable enough margins to get along. There is no Jim Spanfeller getting paid an outlier salary of stupid money to run things into the ground. That’s how things should be. Ownership needs to be in the hands of folks who give a damn about the end product, and who don’t place their own greed above that.

Problem is, too many media companies are run by some of the stupidest, most short-sighted people on earth who aren’t willing to look for sustainable ways to keep the lights on. They don’t care about the rank-and-file employees who do the work when it’s easier for them to strip the company for parts and they’re guaranteed a golden parachute at the end anyway, even if it all burns down. They’re too easily wooed into stupid hype cycles (“AI!” Facebook video! Hell, The Drive’s private-equity overlords even floated the idea of doing NFTs, yuck) and too slow to react to larger market changes (advertising rates, public appetites for paywalls, algorithmic hellscapes that tank views at a whim and necessitate the building of a loyal organic audience that just types your dang URL in their address bar).

These garbage owners don’t care when those stupid hype-moves or other bad decisions nuke their credibility or readership, either. Focusing on quantity over quality, becoming such a hostile workplace and/or paying so little that your best writers leave, having a large-language model regurgitate false information on your pages—when you see stuff like this happening, keep in mind that it’s not coming from the writers. These are not decisions made by anyone who gives a damn about putting out a quality publication or keeping their readership.

There are often still good writers who I want to read stuck at these flailing outlets because, well, where else is there to go when so much of the industry is like this? When Sports Illustrated was ON, even in its last days, its best reporters were still great reads, and the loss of an outlet that regularly did deeper dives into the sportsballs (and often sports cars!) that we watch on a routine basis is horrible. I don’t usually log on for recaps unless it’s to goof off with other fans in the comment section, or unless I know the writer is going to have a killer take on what I just watched. A bot regurgitating the results that Google will show me at the top of its search results isn’t why I log on to a sports site. I log on to read some of the more personal stories, the background dirt—the kinds of stuff that only a reporter who’s knowledgeable about this stuff can really dig up. But how do you get people to read the site when they’re driven away by low-quality content elsewhere on the page, or their browser crashes from too many ads?

The market for physical print mags has changed, no doubt, but I can assure you that the demand for stuff to read still exists. The problem in journalism is very, very, very often in the owner’s and executives’ suites, not in the newsroom.

(Sorry, this struck a bit of a nerve! I’m still traumatized by working for a series of terrible media company owners.)

Last edited 2 months ago by Stef Schrader
Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Very well written and investigated. I agree whole heartedly. An additional note from my years the editorial side was never interested in the financial aspect and therefore a bad department to place in charge as their playbook would have bankrupted the 4th estate at least as quickly. IMHO.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Yeah—there really needs to be a hard wall between business concerns and journalism. Requests from the Spanfellers of the world like “Can you be nicer to Lexus? They might buy more ads.” don’t serve the readership, and when you don’t serve your readers’ best interests, those readers will leave. Problem is, you need owners who know this and business-side folks who can sell your publication with that integrity and the loyal readership it brings as your highest strengths.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Agreed- But that wall also makes it difficult to create a leadership structure with editorial in charge. In addition, there needs to be more enforcement of nonbias partisanship in either direction ie no easy pass for Lexus but no bullseye on it either.
I don’t think you are going to get to many owners who put up the money at risk without control because money is the goal of a business. Though I was always interested in the Tampa Tribune model. Apparently some type of publicly owned publishing company trust. Also the feeling anyone who posts on the internet is a trustworthy journalist.dilutes the work of people who actually do the work.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
2 months ago

I’m a member here and hope you are not struggling/make it through this painful time. I would hate to see this site shutdown.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
2 months ago

It’s amazing how few print media companies have found the balance between free & paywall. Even more amazing that TV & film media haven’t learned the lessons from print media & radio failures.

Subscriptions I have had in the day; SI, Wired, C&D, MT, Automobile, Fortune, Money, GQ, AD, Newsweek, WSJ, USA Today. Print or online subs today is zero, when I encounter a paywall just go find a free source, won’t even create an account for free access.

Advertising $ is way down and 2024 is going to be a bad year for companies that live off it.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
2 months ago

I remember when C&D was the apex car mag. They had a huge subscriber base and editors like David Davis and Csaba Csere separated the editorial side of the business from the advertising side, leading GM (and others) to leave in a huff a few times only to come back a few months later.

It’s sad to see how they have fallen, I stopped my subscription about 10 years ago after subscribing for 30 years.

EXL500
EXL500
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

I remember Brock Yates and David E. Davis at C&D. And DED and Jean LIndamood at Automobile (remember them?). Above all LJK Setright at Car. Sometimes it’s good to be old.

Last edited 2 months ago by EXL500
Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
2 months ago
Reply to  EXL500

All the names I grew up reading! Automobile was always my favorite. I’ll also add early James May at Car before all the Captain Slow nonsense.

EXL500
EXL500
2 months ago

Also Russell Bulgin, who died way too soon. What an excellent writer (Car)

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
2 months ago
Reply to  EXL500

Wow, that’s a name I hadn’t thought of for years, definitely gone too soon.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago
Reply to  EXL500

Greatest motoring writer who ever lived, in my opinion. The small book of his work published in tribute after his death is one of my most treasured possessions. A good auto writer friend (whose work I also admire, but is now out of the game) agrees with me.

EXL500
EXL500
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Yes, his work was amazing, and not irascible like LJK’s, although I loved that too.

Last edited 2 months ago by EXL500
Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago
Reply to  EXL500

I bought a pile of old Autocourse F1 annuals a while back. Started flicking through the 1984 edition and saw the season report was written by Russell (he would have been the Grand Prix reporter for Motor at the time). If I had a heart it would have slipped a beat.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
2 months ago
Reply to  EXL500

His name and Mel Nichols’ (mentioning Setright made me think of him) are two names I haven’t seen in a long time.

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

Yeah, I started subscribing in 4th grade (1988ish) and let it expire 5 or so years ago because it was no longer exciting to read. It was no longer easily discernable from myriad other car mags.

Dennis Ames
Dennis Ames
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

I too was subscriber, before I could drive. I loves Autoweek, for the racing coverage, that you could not get from anywhere, before the internet. I also loved reading Patrick Bedard, Rich Ceppos, and Peter Egan. Yes I too am old.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Ames

Ceppos and Csere were great. Bedard was a douchebag, and not an unused one.

AlterId
AlterId
2 months ago

I have some memories of Bedard’a opinion pieces from back in the day, and they concur.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
2 months ago
Reply to  AlterId

Columns from the 80s haven’t always aged well.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Ames

Ceppos is still there at C&D! One of the oldest-timers over there.

FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

I remember those days, too. I remember few of the cars but all of the writers. They were allowed — probably encouraged — to reveal their personalities in their work. It’s what sells, but corporate governance really hates to rely on talent. They can’t measure it so it scares them. I suppose a recent example of this is the TV program Top Gear when they replaced Clarkson, May and Hammond. It turned out the talent and chemistry of those three was far more important than car tests. People like cars, but they love people and the stories they tell.

1 2 3
173
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x