In August 2011 we produced the last issue of CAR Middle East magazine and I wrote what I thought would be my last editorial for it.
I felt it was poignant, honest, and a very clear warning to an industry that patently failed to support a voice that was heard and respected by car buyers and key influencers alike.
There was reader furore over the closure of CAR ME, something that took the publishers by surprise, as it wasn’t like anything that they’d experienced before. Guess ‘reader-loyalty’ is an alien concept here – heck, readers are an alien concept when it comes to print magazines, let’s be honest!
Anyway, the editorial was pulled at the last minute and instead I had to slip in a rather tepid farewell. But the original words have sat in a file in my inbox simmering away since then, gnawing away at my conscience, desperate to escape the confines of a hard drive.
The fact is that over a year and half later, these words retain their inherent truth and are as valid today as they were then.
Fortunately we’ve been given a second chance, through the encouragement of those very same readers that we almost abandoned, with MotoringMiddleEast.com. Thankfully they’ve embraced us in far greater numbers than we could ever have known at CAR ME.
Question is, has the automotive industry wizened up yet?
Here is the original unprinted editorial:
You hold in your hands our last issue of CAR Middle East magazine. Don’t drop it, be gentle with the pages, and once you’re done reading, wrap it in some plastic and put it in a safe place. This is a piece of history to cherish, the last bastion of quality local automotive journalism in this region.
A bit strong? A bit true. More than a bit actually. I’ve been involved in nearly every one of the 70 editions we’ve produced during our five years and ten months of publishing. And throughout my tenure, this magazine has been led by one all-abiding philosophy; we do this for you, our reader. Not for the advertisers, not for our partners, not for the car industry, and not even for our bosses.
Everything we did, all our endeavours, all our acclaimed successes and everyone of our spectacular failures, were all focused on bringing you an unrivalled automotive media that informed, but also entertained, enlightened, excited and most of all, spoke its mind.
You may think all of the above is obvious and goes without saying. Surely this is how it’s always done? Frankly, apart from a few exceptions, for the rest of the media here (and let’s include non-automotive in that) the sad truth is that you, my friend, are merely incidental.
We set out to prove that was out of order, and that those others who kowtowed to the advertisers were ultimately doomed to an insignificant existence, soon to be over-shadowed by the rising and refreshing beacon of integrity that we hoisted on our own shoulders under the banner of CAR Middle East. And ultimately we’ve been a glorious failure.
Other magazines may continue, new ones may launch, and some titles might even make a comeback, but believe you me, most are merely sacrificial lambs to be slaughtered on the mantle of mediocrity in the name of scooping up the leftover scraps of advertising thrown the way of print motoring media. Their purpose will be to cash on in a business opportunity, not to fuel the passion of petrolheads.
And therein lies the answer to the question you’ve been asking whilst reading this – how has it come to this? Our expiration is a sad indictment of an industry too short-sighted to understand the value of supporting a media that serves car enthusiasts: car buyers and lovers who are also the key influencers that constantly expound their expertise and drive other buyers into showrooms. This mag’s fate demonstrates an abject failure to appreciate that key channel of media exposure.
You may have been let down by the industry, but you were never let down by the team behind CAR Middle East, and of that I am extremely proud.