Explaining the Recent Changes at Automobile Magazine

The more things change. Change for change’s sake. Change you can believe in. By now you’re probably begging me to stop bludgeoning you with clichés and get to the point already, but there’s a reason why there are so many well-worn phrases centered on the C-word. Our lives are in constant forward motion, always changing—whether we want them to or not. We get older, (hopefully) wiser. We get married, have kids, move from place to place, job to job.

Corporations change, too. I’ve been a part of expansions and painful contractions. The company that once owned the Detroit Free Press, my hometown newspaper and where I cut my teeth as a journalist, no longer exists. In the eight years I’ve worked for the company that owns Automobile, we’ve gone bankrupt, changed hands twice, and names three times. And now, significant change has come to Automobile.

As some of you know by now, the indomitable Jean Jennings has left the magazine and I have been asked to slide into the cockpit as editor-in-chief. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jean, who in her amazingly colorful career helped define the magazine. She’s broken down barriers in a male-dominated profession and has become a larger-than-life personality.

I know I have a huge hat to fill, and I cannot thank her enough for the kindness she has shown me. Jean will still be out there, as a star of the new TV show “Motor City Masters” on truTV and through her JeanKnowsCars brand. I wish her nothing but the best, now and in the future.

The changes we’re making are all with the goal of ensuring the magazine’s future, even as we cherish its past.

There’s another change you’ll notice starting this month. Ezra Dyer has decided to leave us for the competition. Ezra has done wonderful work during his decade-plus with the magazine, has written with imagination, and has entertained you with his outrageous adventures. His tales from the Le Mans 24 Hour will be his final piece for us. We also wish him well as he makes a significant career change.

On the heels of Ezra’s departure, I’m excited to introduce Automobile readers to Arthur St. Antoine and his Asphalt Jungle musings. A veteran automotive journalist whose prolific career has spanned decades at multiple car magazines and beyond, Art will also be weaving features in the pages of Automobile and through the “Epic Drives” video series he hosts on YouTube. He’s a consummate professional who loves cars from all eras and writes with a unique voice I believe you’re truly going to enjoy. Also joining the team this month is senior copy editor Kathleen Clonts, a veteran newspaper journalist and Detroit native who grew up immersed in Motown’s car culture.

Despite the changes, much of the roster is staying the same—and for very good reason. Living legends Georg Kacher and Robert Cumberford aren’t going anywhere. Same goes for the voices and photographers you’ve come to know, including the irrepressible Jamie Kitman as well as Preston Lerner, Ronald Ahrens, Jason Harper, Lawrence Ulrich, Marc Noordeloos, and others. Veteran staff editors Joe DeMatio, Joe Lorio, Michael Jordan, Todd Lassa, ace designer Darren Scott, and young guns David Zenlea, Chris Nelson, Patrick Hoey, Jake Holmes, Eric Weiner, and Joey Capparella form the vanguard of our efforts everywhere we hang the Automobile banner—be it our website, social media outlets, or mobile experiences.

The changes we’re making are all with the goal of ensuring the magazine’s future, even as we cherish its past. We will remain committed to delivering more of what you love about Automobile, on the printed page and otherwise. We’ll also never stop looking for new ways to delight you with ever more epic, iconic, and global stories and photos. The world is changing fast, and we’re changing with it. But even in the midst of all this transformation, there is one thing I can promise you that will not change. Automobile’s founding principle will always be our constant: No boring cars.

I just re-upped my subscription. I lagged about 6 months.In the 2 recent issues, November and December, there were no performance stats listed for the vehicles tested like they used to in the past. No 0-60, no 1/4 mile times and speed, no braking...etc. Is this the new format? Will it be this way all the time? If so, please let me know and please let me know if I can get out of my subscription. Cq
Mike Floyd, does mediocre writing come to you naturally, or have you had to work at it?
I realize I'm late to the Automobile-evisceration party, but due to a subscription lapse I skipped a few months. For me the November issue was a shocker. I was unaware Jennings and Dyer had been dumped. And the book was lead off by the most unctuous, pandering, marketing-by-any-other-name editorial I've seen in my four decades of reading three car mags each month.
Devoting the editorial, which sets the stage for the issue, to a puff piece about a low-rent track-day retailer bespeaks a lack of editorial judgment. As troubling as the subject matter is the writing style, which consists of the stringing together of shop-worn phrasing ("some of the most exciting street cars on the road today"), with nary a fresh idea or insight to disrupt the eyes-glazing-over process.
For such hackery to occupy the space previously filled by Jennings and Davis is, as you say, humbling. Further in, some good writing from the remaining old-timers and some fine photography redeem the issue somewhat. But they cannot take away the bad odor of that editorial. I'm left with the concern that a corporate apple-polisher is at the helm, and the demise of the magazine's integrity is at hand.
Rather than cancel my subscription, I'll let it live out its life and instead I will change how I read the magazine. Previously I'd go through it in a linear manner, reading every page of every article. Now I'll cherry-pick. My starting point will no longer be the TOC, but rather the first page of the Ignition section.
Ok, Mike - one more time for me. I'm keeping my current Subscription until June 2015 and I'll be able to take a good look by then…….but, as another Subscriber noted - the current R&T is putting you to shame - and it's not so much because of the article choices - but because the Staff over there listens to "enthusiast opinions" and replies professionally - not as snotty elitists - You guys will have to find your CORE again and focus on sticking with it - and being in the mix with MT is not going to help!!
I'll reserve comment until I've read the first issue with the new staff, but I, too, have subscribed from day one. I lost faith in MT eons ago -- I'm still not sure if I've forgiven them for naming the Chevy Caprice "Car of the Year" circa the early '90s -- and I don't care about the "track" portion of R&T, so I view C&D as Automobile's most direct competition. They, too, have lost numerous staff in recent years -- most notably Brock Yates, but also Csaba Csere -- but have still kept up their generally solid writing. They also still have the best layout in the auto-mag business, IMO.
But yeah, I'm with everyone else here: new leadership doesn't mean abandoning the magazine's original ethos of NO BORING CARS. Save that job for MT!
Jim Eckenrode
No response...no surprise either.
Marcos Agote-Robertson
I hope this new era will bring us a great car magazine, as always. (I'm a subscriber since 2003 or 4). Can you ask JK to please (I'm begging here) stop writing about those crappy and unreliable UK cars? (I'm afraid POS is a too strong expression for this page, but that is what I think about hose cars)
Marcos Agote-Robertson
The FB page is way more active than usual, since a few days ago. coincidence?
Jim Eckenrode
I bought the very first issue of Automobile Magazine because I was a huge DED fan. I loved it. I've been a subscriber ever since the first one. Now I am very seriously considering dropping it. I also subscribe to the other "major competitors". I was in the car business and there was always the current issue of your magazine on my desk. Great insight and always current info. Now not so much. R&T was my least favorite over the years. Now they are putting you to shame. Sorry Automobile.
Patrick R.
I've been a print subscriber as well as digital.  The only column I read religiously was Jean's.  I also enjoyed Ezra's.  Cumberford's is an acquired taste.  I'm looking forward to Jean's and Ezra's new gig.  
Brad Louis
I'll miss Ezra's column but Jamie is still there, and I'm willing to give the new guys a chance. Plus, the iPad version is beautiful at 35000 ft.
John Lester
Thanks for the post and your replies Michael. I enjoyed the most recent issue and will keep subscribing.
Joe Lussier
Well said, Keven.
Michael Floyd
In my mind Bill, we aim to appeal to people just like you, people who are passionate about cars like you clearly are. Thanks for reading.
Michael Floyd
Great advice Kevin, thanks so much... Hope we'll lure you back
Michael Floyd
Sorry to hear that... Hopefully we'll change your mind before your sub runs out.
Michael Floyd
Not to worry, that stuff is sticking around. And thanks for subscribing
Michael Floyd
You can be assured that Automobile will in no way, shape, or form ever be anything other than the unique publication it has always been, even more so as we move forward.
Michael Floyd
Sorry to hear that Maury. Jason and Ezra are talents to be sure, but think we have arguably the best staff in the business.
Angus MacKenzie
People still subscribe to magazines? Huh. I had no idea.
Peter Stelman
No problem. I mostly just look at Cumberford's comments on design. I've subscribed on and off since issue #1. My favorite US car mag was R&T, but mostly for Rob Walker's GP reports. Now they're all the same.
Keven Bottenfield
As a subscriber since I found issue one on the news stand (with breaks here and there over the years) I feel I need to chime in. I have been pondering subscribing again, in fact have almost done so several times over the last few months. The most recent thing that stopped me.was Dyer's claim that he was a fan of autonomous cars. Go figure. Mrs. Jennings departure will hurt for sure, being the only remaining kindred soul to David E. Davis Jr.'s brilliance and interesting car focus, damn what the rest of the world thinks attitude. Kitman never never really blended in but was at least in step with the "No boring cars" mantra regardless of his bad musical taste and progressive political whining. Automobile has a chance to rekindle that magic now, OR it can be just blend in on the news stand. A couple bits of humble advice, seek to recapture what made you great in the past while keeping an eye to the future, "Restomod" comes to mind, and revive the phrase and philosophy of D.E.D.Jr "COGNITO ERGO ZOOM"
Bill Seaton
Not sure who this magazine is supposed to appeal to. 16 year olds ? I subscribe to about 13 car magazines per month and will be eliminating some if them. We'll see if Automobile gets renewed or dropped. BTW I have been reading Automobile since issue 1.
Chris Prather
Hey, still better then autoweek..
Jon Hiles
Agreed with William Hudecek. I don't want to read a mirror issue of MT. Source Interlink has now taken the character out of a truly great publication, and the losses are shown in the latest issue. Junk. No disrepect, but the loyal readers don't want another LA based Rag publication that reports on the same stuff as 3 other car mags do at the neighborhood news stand. I have a few months left on my sub, we'll see how it goes, and I know I'm not the only one thinking this.
Maury Tarted
First Jason Camissa, now Ezra Dyer? A fine magazine for sure, but I must find my irreverence elsewhere. Sorry :(
Nick Stürtz
I will miss the articles by Jean and Ezra, but still feel Automobile Magazine will still be my favorite of the three I subscribe to. One request: please don't get rid of the article on the classic car or the auctions; those are my favorite and what I always read first.
William Hudecek
Two big losses and keeping Cumberford is not a positive. Won't be renewing. \U0001f61e

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