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are basically manufacturers of cars, two wheelers and other vehicles. I have
often asked myself, are OEMs like the Pied Piper of Hamelin in the poem written
by Robert Browning. And are we journalists and influencers covering the auto beat like the rats ready to take a
final plunge into the sea?
all know that journalists or reporters covering areas like auto, politics,
sports, gadgets, hotels, etc have always indulged in the finer things in life,
thanks to the people and places they cover. For example, a reporter covering
hotels and tourism cannot deny the fact that he or she has stayed free in
luxurious hotels, received expensive gifts, has been wined and dined, etc. The
same goes with those covering politics and other “attractive” beats.
far as I remember, companies, whether they are FMCGs or those making vehicles,
have gone overboard entertaining journalists. Over the years the trend has just
got worse in terms of sleazy indulgence. Let me come straight to auto
became a hardcore auto journalist after quitting newspaper journalism in the
mid 1990s. I started off as a B2B correspondent which meant that I specialised
in doing stories relating to plants, companies, finance, interviews etc. Yes, I
was invited to plants across India and abroad. There were times we were flown
Business Class too by some very powerful auto companies. I must say I
thoroughly enjoyed the travel, the meetings, the dinners and lunches and of
course the gifts that were handed over after our assignment was over.
somewhere my conscience was hurt badly. Only a couple of newspapers like the
Business Standard used to mention after a report that the correspondent’s
travel to the plant or place was sponsored by the company. The readers have the
right to know whether the report is a result of hard work and honesty or
whether it is “influenced” in any manner. As a B2B auto correspondent,
opportunities to expensive stay, food and gifts are limited.
2014, as Editor of Motown India magazine (we had to shut down the magazine a
few months back because of financial losses), I decided to make the magazine
B2C focussed. The general feeling among everyone in the company was that the
B2C world was a lot more exciting than the B2B world. For me it was a challenge
of sorts because it would mean that I would have to review cars, bikes and
I was in my early 50s and youth was not on my
side when I attempted learning all about reviewing vehicles. Thus in 2014, when I shifted the focus of my
magazine to B2C, I remember meeting other B2C Editors and correspondents at
events and some of them would sneer at me for attempting to become a B2C
journalist, as if they were the sole owners of the B2C domain.
TO BE CONTINUED…