No, Automobile Magazine is not Going Anywhere

Greetings all, Mike Floyd here, newly minted editor-in-chief of Automobile Magazine. First off, I want to express my heartfelt best wishes to everyone who lost their jobs, not only at Automobile, but across our newly named company, TEN: The Enthusiast Network.

These changes are extremely painful, but they are changes deemed necessary in order to re-position our company for future growth. I also fully realize the awesome responsibility that comes with being in the editor’s chair of such a respected and storied brand built by two giants and legends in the automotive magazine publishing industry, David E. Davis, Jr. and Jean Jennings. I can only dream of accomplishing a fraction of what they did in their careers at Automobile, and I am going to do everything in my power to continue to honor that legacy while growing and expanding the brand.

But the most important thing I want to make crystal clear right now is this: Automobile Magazine is not going anywhere. While the locations are changing and we have lost some very good people, many very good people still remain. We will still continue to produce a magazine each month as we have since 1986. The same personalities, amazing and highly crafted words, photography, and analysis that you’ve come to expect will continue. And we will grow and develop the Automobile brand wherever it is.

Below is the press release announcing the new company along with a preliminary outline of what is happening in the short run.

Any questions, thoughts, concerns, please feel free to fire away in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Thank you so much, we hope you’ll stay with us as we move forward.

-Mike

SOURCE INTERLINK MEDIA REBRANDS AS TEN: THE ENTHUSIAST NETWORK Transforms portfolio to focus on core brands Speeds transition to web-led, socially amplified media model

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (May 29, 2014) – Source Interlink Media today announced a sweeping redesign of its brand portfolio, and a new name – TEN: The Enthusiast Network.

“TEN: The Enthusiast Network speaks to who we are, and what we do,” said Scott Dickey, Chief Executive Officer. “We are the world’s premier network of enthusiast brands -- we create and deliver content every day that informs, entertains, inspires and connects with enthusiasts. We are dedicated to enabling enthusiasts to pursue the passions that define their lifestyle.”

“’The Company’s future focus will center on its iconic core brands and their connection with the consumer across all forms of media,” said Dickey. “We are now putting in place the foundation to operate as a truly independent content creation and media services company, and the rebranding signals both the scale of the changes and scope of our ambitions.”

TEN is investing resources in its core enthusiast brands, including Motor Trend, Hot Rod, Automobile, Surfer, GrindTV and TransWorld, to name a few. The portfolio redesign absorbs 12 legacy aftermarket print titles into the most relevant of the core brands. Absorbing legacy aftermarket print titles that feature largely duplicative content into stronger core brands will deliver our customers an engaged and valuable audience with greater efficiency and scale.  

In aggregate, the portfolio changes accelerate the company’s move to a Web-Led, Socially Amplified Media Model. “It is not up to us to decide how our consumers choose to interact with our brands,” said Dickey. “Our job is to provide them with the content they want, where they want it, and when they want it. Our business model needs to reflect this new reality.”

The portfolio changes, which will include the relocation of Automobile from Ann Arbor, MI, will also centralize much of the company’s production of auto-related content in its Los Angeles headquarters, increasing efficiencies and the ability to rapidly deploy content across multiple platforms. Eight-year company veteran and experienced automotive journalist Mike Floyd will become the new editor-in-chief. Current deputy editor Joe DeMatio and several members of the Automobile editorial staff will be operating out of the company’s newly expanded Detroit office. The changes will consolidate the production of all in-market automotive content under the direction of Angus MacKenzie, chief content officer.  

Long time editor-in-chief and president of Automobile, Jean Jennings, will leave the company to focus on the development of her own Jean Knows Cars automotive brand, which launched in 2012. “We would like to thank and recognize Jean for her contributions to the Automobile brand over the past 29 years,” said Chris Argentieri, President Source Interlink Media’s Automotive Division. “Although we are sorry to see her leave, we are excited to support Jean as she pursues her next venture in building Jean Knows Cars.”

About TEN: The Enthusiast Network

TEN: The Enthusiast Network LLC is the world’s premier network of enthusiast brands, such as Motor Trend, Automobile, Hot Rod, Surfer, Transworld and GrindTV. With more than 60 publications, 100 Web sites, the world’s largest automotive VOD channel, 800 branded products, 50+ events, TV and radio programs, TEN creates and delivers content that informs, entertains, inspires and connects with enthusiasts every day. For more information visit www.enthusiastnetwork.com

GreyGhost
Let's hope the magazine focuses on no boring cars. That used to be a creed that Automobile Magazine lived by. I'd rather not see a 4-seasons test on a Subaru Outback or a Toyota Prius. Also, I'd like to see less genuflecting to BMW and more unbiased evaluation of fun, exciting cars. I am sorry to see Ms. Jennings go, but I stopped reading her columns and paying attention to her when the great DED left. Smart move keeping the lineup of great writers, who've been keeping this magazine going since I first subscribed some 20 odd years ago.
BrunoTata
Jean Jennings dresses like a Loon and was there because she knew people from way back, certainly not for any knowledge or interest in cars.    Picture the Cat In the Hat if you're wondering.  
Wolf47
You have to wonder whether this is about a new focus of the magazine from honest reviews to actually marketing particular cars.  I've noted a preponderance of reviews touting certain brands.  
tompendergast
Publishing must change to meet the rapidly changing market, so I get the need for this change/consolidation. But I certainly hope that the cruddy, back-sliding iPad edition that came out this month is simply a compromise during a time of transition, and not the new direction for the magazine. I'm a committed iPad subscriber, and Automobile has long distinguished itself (well, since 2010 or so!) with an Ipad edition that didn't feel like a PDF version of the magazine. Please, return next month to an iPad edition that meets the magazine's standard for quality.Tom
sweethingts@yahoo.com
After reading the statement by Mike Floyd, I'm thinking, that moving to Los Angeles, is the clue to expect. "corporate writers", with some knowledge of what they think is the magic formula for Automobile magazine. I've seen already the changes with "Motor Trend's", merger with Cars.com, and with many car magazines, road testing the same cars as everyone else, it's disturbing to say the least. Automobile magazine always had eclectic articles, writers that drove the cars. Not, like the BMW drivers of today, that don't know how to "hang the tail out", or have ever been on a track. I'm sad, but not angry. There will be another car magazine, that addresses the articles of substance, integrity, and wit, to keep the experience flowing month to month. The location is perhaps, a garage, in some unknown location, to escape the corporate writers, sitting in their downtown offices, merging  "Good-Housekeeping", "AOL-Autos", and 59+ articles on how to buy a car. Please keep the writers, that are "old-school", writers that know how to engage your brain. Articles that make you think, "MR2 versus Ferrari 308, hmmmm. Maybe a Audi 5000, versus a '014 Honda Accord Sport, a Dodge Omni GLH, versus a Mini Cooper. Things to make you go;  'Hmmmmm!!!"
Comment Auto
Auto journalism has gone down the drain.  Over the years, less and less is written about how a car performs and more and more about connectivity and infotainment.  Davis, Yates, Bedard and Csere were/are light years ahead of the kids writing today.

By the way, when Ziff-Davis fired Davis, he told John McElroy (Autoline TV After Hours #23) that Jean Jennings was a backstabbing nut case. “I sometimes dream of a FedEx flight on its way to Memphis flying over Parma where she lives and a grand piano falling out of the airplane and whistling down through the air, this enormous object, and lands on her and makes the damnedest chord anybody has ever heard; this sound of music that has never been heard by the human ear. And the next morning all they can find . . . [are] some shards of wood and a grease spot and no other trace of Mrs. Jennings.” I don't look forward to Angus videos with stupid blonde chicks designed to appeal to 15 year old males who can't afford to buy a car or anything advertised in this magazine.
Jeff Jordan
Sorry about the losses, but the new team (which is mostly the old team) deserves a chance.  Glad to hear that so much talent remains.
slepotajs
Yikes....Been a subscriber since probably 1988 or earlier. Haven't missed an issue and contrary to some opinions I'll wait to read what the new leadership will offer-up. My particular likes are some of the stories about car people and their associations. I recollect chuckling at many of the stories and offbeat places visited. Where else could I've read a story about an interview with the President of Estonia and a story of travelling thru the Baltics!!These are the qualities that made Automobile more that just a car mag.
Hector Biarnes
I have been enjoying Automobile magazine for many years.  I was always super excited when the new issue came in the mail, and even though I tried hard not to read it cover to cover the first day or two after it arrived, that's what ended up happening more times than not.  Then I had to wait oh so long for the next issue.  Automobile magazine has also helped me when I worked as a valet.  It has been great reading about some cars that not many people have the chance to drive and then actually explaining how to use the fancy new transmission to the car's owner so they believed me when I told them that we get Lambos and Ferraris all the time.  What they didn't know was that I was armed with the knowledge of how to engage sport mode, or better still, launch control.  For this I have Automobile to thank .Please keep up the great articles and even better writing that has set your magazine apart.  I have checked out other magazines in the past, but none have spoken to me in the way Automobile has, making me feel like I am actually tagging along on some of the adventures in the articles.  I surely hope this will continue for many years to come.
captlwr
Well - pretty easy to see that this issue ignited a Firestorm with Loyal Readers/Subscribers. Typical issue - not so much WHAT they did but HOW they did it………….I'm going to keep my current Subscription until my June 2015 expiration date to "see" what happens, Probably not Mike's fault but he is the one put up to "deal" with the flak. I smell the Corporate Raider Syndrome here……really too bad for the Mag and it's Followers For Decades.
the_roadrunner
Well, since major change is in the offing, here are a couple suggestions.  
1. Cut down the number of BMW articles and put in more about American muscle cars.  
2.  Every time you do a comparison test, throw in a ringer to test the overall proposition.  For example, when you test luxury sport sedans like the BMW 5 series, Mercedes E class, etc.  add in the Chevy SS, which offers comparable performance and styling for $20K less.  When you test sports cars like Jag F-type and Corvette, throw in a CTS-VSport to see whether any performance is sacrificed by a 4 door.  One ringer in each test group would make for entertaining reading indeed.
the_roadrunner
I remember when left-wingers sacked Louis Rukeyser at Wall Street Week.   The lie put out was that Rukeyser was getting old and stale.  Wall Street Week lasted only a year without him.
the_roadrunner
I am glad to see Jean Jennings understands the modern world and set about creating "Jean knows Cars".  Build something that the corporate accountants can't take away from you, build something that is intrinsically tied to you personally, build something that you own.  I look forward to the first print issue in a year or so.
the_roadrunner
Only good news is Angus MacKenzie will be running content.  He took Motor Trend from a kids magazine to one of the best.  An Australian named after a steak might succeed in putting the sizzle in Automobile.
the_roadrunner
Hmm, Car and Driver wasn't worth reading anymore after they sacked Brock Yates.  Let's hope the same doesn't happen here.  Filling the magazine staff with cheaply paid kids leads to a shallow publication...there is value to having staff who actually remember a 1964 Mustang or 1971 Camaro when it was NEW.  Not optimistic.
Marc Maserati
I am really going to miss Jean's presence in Automobile Magazine. My subscription is up in August so I hope that is enough time to see how this change will alter the magazine and if I should renew or not. I have always though that Automobile has the best covers and spreads in the industry so I hope they will continue the legacy left by Davis and Jennings.
-Dequindre- moderator
Although it's sad to see people go, we should congratulate Mike Floyd on his promotion! It's great to see a MT forum veteran at the helm!
jdhilton
My 2 cents: this year's All Stars road trip was a welcome change from the same old same old; "web led, socially amplified" is trendy gibberish, not a business model; and while I don't know Mike, Joe's a good guy. I'll give them a year . 
Dave_in_Rio_Rancho
I might say that if this many people had commented on each of the fine articles Automobile Magazine put on the Internet, this news item would not be occurring.
DBinPVD
The quality of the writing in Automobile, plus its unique features like the collectible classics section and auction results, have kept me subscribing.  I certainly hope that quality is sustained.  Angus McKenzie didn't do Motor Trend any favors when he ran it. No need for copy editors? That philosophy has made many publications embarrassingly bad in recent years.  My subscription runs for some time but it will be cancelled if the magazine turns into a badge-engineered Motor Trend filled with typos. 
JOHN GOLDIN
Bottom Line. Jean Jennings and other staff members have been fired. This is too bad as this was one of the better automobile magazines on the market. Looks like this is going to turn into another dog & pony show. Who ever has the most toys will control the toy room. Enjoy your new position as some one must be made into a new "Fall Guy". 
DAllen21678
I hope you guys don't turn this magazine into Motor Trend. To me MT is Consumer Reports with slightly more feeling. On another note Angus Mackenzie sucks! There I'm finished.
gcthree
It pains me greatly to say this, but Automobile stood alone as the only worthwhile read for discriminating car enthusiasts. Why does it pain me? I had the amazing fortune to serve on its staff during the truly wonderful years of DED's stewardship. To Jean's credit, she did keep the flame that David ignited in 1986; the 'too bad' part was that she, effectively, tossed DED under the bus to gain that position. If Floyd wedged himself into the role in this fashion, then justice has been served...too bad that she did get a 29 year ride out of it. To my 'stand alone' comment, R&T is a total mess, and the Bonds are turning in their graves. Motor Trend is what it continues to be: uninteresting. And, sadly, Eddie seems to have lost his way with C&D.  And though this is being filed in a digital environment, this setting remains a sub-optimal experience vs. printed matter, and increasingly, the ground under these magazines seems to be turning into a sinkhole. Root of the problem is that the business/advertising staffs remain squarely attached to a business model that became unwieldy 20 years ago when advertisers and marketers turned a blind-eye to advertising for the sake of advertising.  Good luck, Mike. We'll be watching.
BradS
Mike, I don't subscribe to Motor Trend because of its heavy bias toward foreign brands.  Do you plan on carrying this attitude over to Automobile?
Elizabeth Adams
I've got to say, this comment thread and your note, Mike, don't change a few really critical pieces.  
One, Automobile got a lot of credit in the industry and from women enthusiasts for Jean's leadership.  Your list of who is "staying" (i.e. not fired) includes not one woman.  Not one.  
And did you fire the copy editors as Jean suggested on Jalopnik?  If so, shame on you.  
This story is not a new one in the magazine business and it never goes well.  
The lack of attention to half the driving population (and a nice sized minority of the enthusiast community) seems tone deaf.  
Good luck, I suppose.  I'll be canceling all my TEN subscriptions.  
jimm1
As  fan of the magazine from it's start, I must say that lately I've noticed a downward spiral. Mike read my letter to the editor dated May 19.... 'Are we there yet'!    In a nutshell the presentation of the 'All Stars' was a mess. It was tedious to read the 'travelog'... it lost focus on the cars and the photography and layout was awful.  I thought Jeans's Upshift/gossip page (June 2014) was like she had already lost interest... going on about the 'Gophers' when she should have been monitoring the staff's 24 page disastrous, boring excursion through Mid-America.
I remember when Automobile first appeared. I am an art director and to me what always set it apart from the other Car Magazines was the exceptional photography and layouts as well as the editorial content.  Somewhere along the line the taste level went out the window... and became visually too similar to MT and C&D.
So if you are about to make a Grand Statement going forward and get noticed for it ... you might want to start with a new graphically exciting format and superior photography.    Back in the day I used to save issues because each one was 'coffee-table' worthy, now I toss them.  This of course is going to take a talented visually in charge kinda person.  If that is not your forte you'd better find and hire that person pronto!!!
190 A4
I am in my mid '50's. Been reading car/motorcycle magazines since my early teen years. Every other year I buy a new car/truck, motorcycles I keep on a longer basis. I subscribe to Automobile because the writing is mature. The younger guys at CD, RT, etc. try too hard. A lot of fluff in their write ups, just annoys older guys like me. Jean and Robert, straight and to the point. As a science guy I appreciate facts, and how well they are presented. I hope the changes don't screw up a fine magazine.
bc
En masse firings like this almost never work out effectively.  Sad for the ones who are thrown out.  But bad too for the ones who are kept on.  They are constantly working in fear of the same thing happening to them, their attitude and work production suffers greatly, and its a downward spiral.
Changes in personel are much better done slowly, as people retire, as they move on elsewhere, etc.
Sure hope Jean and the others maybe can start something up on their own.  I'd subscribe in an instant.
Tod Rafferty
"Operatic reactions." Good one.
Matthew Davis
Operatic reactions in all directions (those meant nobly and otherwise) are inevitable in these circumstances. I, for one, just want Mike Floyd and Automobile to kick as much a$$ as both DEDJr and JJ did for all of these wonderful years. Why on Earth - and in the name of true car enthusiasm - would any of us flat-out cancel subscriptions because of masthead reshuffles? Stay the (new) course, guys. C'mon, we all know we really should stick with it and not throw babies out with bathwater. If Mike ends up sucking at the job (he won't) and the writing and story ideas are oatmeal (they won't be), then attack the offices hither and yon with torches and pitchforks. Otherwise, wipe the froth from your lips and just read. Enjoy. Give feedback. Showing how much we care by writing the whole Automobile effort off is actually more like irrational hatred. TEN absolutely needed to do essentially these things to keep the several titles vital into the further future. Will it all work? Nobody even knows if the entire publishing business itself will work in this online century. But do not so enthusiastically turn your backs on your own.
opaque/3bf1c2e4-e7f4-11e3-8dbf-132795346d4f
I've been reading all the comments and most people, like myself, are pretty much bidding farewell to Automobile.
News Flash: That's exactly what TEN: The Enthusiast Network wants from all this. They knew there would be reader retaliation, and that's exactly their plan so they can do away with the magazine in a year or so. There's a reason Jean was fired, and we're never going to know until her gag-order is expired.
Mike Floyd is there merely to pilot this sinking ship.
P L STADLER
We'll see if there is worthwhile content after this deal... problem I see is that David E. Davis, whom I had the honor to know, and Jean Jennings whom I also met and worked with, were real car people, who walked the talk, having had the experience to back it all up. I also know a bunch of writers, who are just that. Like I said, seeing is believing.
SaveTheRidgeline
 "Absorbing legacy aftermarket print titles that feature largely duplicative content into stronger core brands will deliver our customers an engaged and valuable audience with greater efficiency and scale."It took me a moment to realize that the press release was aimed at attempting to impress advertisers, with readers serving as some kind of drugged cattle lowing in the background.Mike, watch your back. Your new employers are cut-throats, illiterate savages. They don't care that it takes decades to build something like this; they'll burn it down in seconds to buy a more expensive pair of pants.  
Evan Lerner
Mike,If you had been a reader of Automobile Magazine for many years like many of us you would know there are pretty much 3 basic tenets:1. No BS2. Tell it like it is, we're all grown ups here (sort of)3. No boring cars
You want to quickly earn some respect with your readers?  Re-write that press release as it would appear on the last page of Automobile Magazine.
Here's how it could possibly go:
I've been put in charge of Automobile magazine because it was hemorrhaging money and run like a fraternity.  Jean's ass was canned because she pissed off the wrong people and wouldn't do the firings that the corporate owner told her had to be done.  Etc..
Tell us exactly what happened and why.....you sure as hell can bet we'll find out very soon from Jean.
dbock1
To all bedwetters who would delete other people's posts: stop crying and stomping your feet.  You'll wake your mom.
Chuck Brunson
Mike,As a fan of Automobile Magazine from the very beginning, your comments above as well as Source Interlink's press release (I refuse to refer to them by their new name, as I see nothing at all "enthusiast" about showing a founding member of this magazine the door in such a sudden manner) smack of pure corporate BS, and does absolutely nothing to reassure me that this magazine will remain true to it's core readers. I won't say anything as draconian as "I'm canceling my subscription"- mainly because I haven't subscribed in several years- but I do frequently buy a copy at the local newsstand. I suspect for the time being, my interaction with Automobile will be an occasional thumbing through vice actually purchasing, but I do wish you well at the helm.Jean Jennings deserved better.
Nick Kallergis
Mike, your official statement and every response that you have written to these posts are the standard corporate bs justifications on cost cutting policies. I have one issue remaining on my subscription and it will be my last. You are the guy left standing but just for now. Your firing will come a lot sooner and won't be long before the next guy will be writing about how much respect he has for you while he sits in Jean's chair.
Zanary
Well, this is just plain s***y.  Every female staff member fired?  Jean Jennings gone?  No doubt that NVH will be gone too...


...I can't imagine what we're supposed to be looking forward to.  MT can't even update their own page's software in less than 6 years...despite constant complaints.
BrunoTata
@the_roadrunner Ringer.   I do not think this word means what you think it means. 
bc
@the_roadrunner Just what I am hoping for too.
BrunoTata
@the_roadrunner Angry old liberal sayswhat?
the_roadrunner
@-Dequindre- Why?  I already get MT and dont want a duplicate subscription.
Dave_in_Rio_Rancho
@DAllen21678 They are Motor Trend:)
the_roadrunner
@BradS Huh?  Motor Trend is about the most US car supporting mag out there.  Look at the Car of the Years (Cadillac CTS, Tesla).  In contrast, Car & Driver is a subsidiary of Honda Motors, and R&T is European.  And we know how Consumer Reports hates the US industry.
eric in oregon
@jimm1  I'm sorry Jimm, but you and I both know that kind of person could never put their name to that boiler plate mumbo jumbo Mike spewed forth at us.
the_roadrunner
@opaque/3bf1c2e4-e7f4-11e3-8dbf-132795346d4f Hmm you may be on to something.  Automobile may get the same treatment that FIAT is giving Dodge...treat the brand like crap, then close it when it sinks.  A strange business strategy for this MBA, but it happens often enough.
the_roadrunner
@Evan Lerner great post.  of course we live in the age where no one from the President down speaks the truth openly like this.  it is all corporate bureaucratese designed to obscure.
-Dequindre- moderator
@the_roadrunner @-Dequindre-
Automobile Magazine will still be operating, so The Enthusiast Network won't be changing your subscription in any way. 
MEinSeattle
@the_roadrunner @BradS I'll agree with you but for one thing.......BMW. They OWN the car mag industry here.  And even Automobile Magazine was at fault when they declared the 3series the winner over the ATS because while the ATS drove better, it wasn't as luxurious as the 3.  Isn't that why there was a shift in automotive tastes over the past years? Because people (at least car-people) were more concerned about handling than fancier leather?  It's true for C&D, Automobile, and M?T. They don't dare cross BMW.
MEinSeattle
@-Dequindre- @the_roadrunner Dequindre, I don't think that's what he meant.  Kinda thick, huh?

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