In days of yore, #journalists were simple in their
outlook, existed on meagre salaries and were there on a mission to bring out
the truth. In the 1980s and early 1990s before the television boom, business
journalism was at a nascent stage, and auto journalism hardly existed in its
glam form as it is today.
With #economicliberalisation in 1991, the Indian industry was allowed to
come out with public issues more freely and there were several public issue
press conferences a day. Droves of #Businessjournalists,
including #fakejournalists moved
from one five-star hotel to another (the venue of such press conferences) and
at each conference were handed out gift vouchers. Corporate India had realised
that bribing was the best way to get coverage. The job of PR executives was to
hand out these vouchers and ensure that every scribe is happy.
Sometime in late 1990s, I quit
newspaper journalism and moved into #AutoIndia
magazine as a Special Correspondent. I was quick to leave the outfit as
salaries either never came in or if it did, came in very late. The #AshokAdvani #Business India group had invested big time in television and
somehow it had not taken off..
When I moved to #AutoIndia, it was a culture shock for
me. Auto journalists or enthusiasts were
never considered real journalists. These enthusiasts loved to drive and ride
and they were hard core ‘petrol heads’. They defined their own ethics, their
lives, their lifestyle and their careers. They loved going on junkets too. The
1990s and the early 2000 saw several auto magazines coming up. The period also
saw the entry of several global auto majors into India. Editors of auto
magazines were out of the country almost 365 days of the year, going on free
junkets, enjoying the hospitality of auto companies and enjoying life to the
hilt. They were doing so till recently, when the pandemic played spoil sport. But
I am sure they will be back to their peripatetic ways soon!
There were no scruples here. The
norm was to have fun, see the world, drive and ride, and make hay while the sun
shines! Editors of auto magazines, those anchoring auto shows on television,
auto correspondents of newspapers, all of them suddenly became the toast of the
town for car and bike companies. For me,
I was getting used to adapting to a new lifestyle. I did go for a few junkets
while at Auto India as well as #AutocarIndia
magazines, but since my forte was #B2Bjournalism
I had yet to taste the real fun.
There are two kinds of auto
journalists, a B2B auto journalist, and a B2C auto journalist. The #B2B guy does corporate kind of
reports, analytics reports, interviews etc. The B2C guy reviews cars and bikes.
Being a #B2Bjournalist I did mainly
B2B reports for Autocar India as well as Autocar Professional. I was the Delhi
Bureau Chief of both the magazines till 2009, having joined the organisation in
1999 when it started its debut in India!
TO BE CONTINUED...