I will be the first to admit that, recently, I've been a little tired of the usual automotive journalist. You know exactly who I'm talking about, they're the ones that describe a Lincolns steering feedback as "tactile", or a Buicks brake pedal as "firm and unwavering" during repeated abuse. These journalists probably haven't driven anything interesting in the last 20 years, yet their articles still get published. This is the main reason I stopped reading many of the classic automotive magazines. Instead I try to get my news from places like Jalopnik, The Smoking Tire, Drive (when it was free), and, yes, Top Gear. I think I finally understand why, after watching The Smoking Tire's video reviews at the Motor Press Guild's annual track day.
I recently queued up The Smoking Tire's review of the Ford Mustang EcoBoost. I enjoyed Matt's very candid commentary on the car and that led me to watch other videos from the same track today. It occurred to me that while watching videos, Matt is a pretty capable wheelman (which I had suspected for a while) and that every other journalist on track sucked. Their lines were terrible, their point-bys were lacking and it reminded me of teen driving schools I've instructed. Sure, not every car that track day is capable on track, but it was clear to see most of the problems were lack of driving ability.
So this has me thinking, how can I believe anything written by someone who is terrible at driving? Would you take the word of a contractor who's website has pictures of shoddy looking houses? I realize asking this is subjective, but I tend to trust people that are good at what they do. This is the reason I like reading things from Randy Pobst, and Tommy Kendall and others that were paid to drive for a living. Sure they are now commentators/writers/Show hosts, but these positions stemmed from them chasing perfection in the drivers seat. I would venture to say that most journalists lack that type of credibility behind the wheel.
Now, I'm not saying every automotive journalist sucks at driving. But I am saying that magazines would probably be better off hiring ex-professional racers, and a few good editors.
Here is a picture of an m4 in the wet for reading that wall of text.