Opinion Piece: New Beginnings (Street Commodores Editorial Columns)

13 Jun

This is the first in a regular series of editorial pieces we’ll be posting here on the blog, originally written by Hosking Industries’ Ben Hosking for Street Commodores magazine and other magazines he’s completed opinion pieces for. This column appeared in issue 169 of Street Commodores:

New Beginnings

As Street Commodores enters a new era with a new Editor, I’m in the enviable position of watching it all unfold, up close and personal.

The internal machinations of a magazine are something that seems to remain a perennial mystery to most folks on the outside, no matter how much we’ve chosen to divulge over the years. Street Commodores has always been one of the most accessible in terms of how much contact the editorial staff have with its readers and fans. Yet still, there’s only so much you want to give away and plenty that no one would probably ever care to know. Certainly, knowing too much can work to ruin the fantasy or aura that can surround the things you love.

There have been many times during my time with the magazine that I’ve been frustrated, wishing I could go into more detail to explain to you folks at home why something turned out the way it did, or why some things just have to be the way they are. As they say, some things are better left unsaid and in many cases, you learn that to give up the extra information wouldn’t bring you the outcome you desire anyway.

Street Commodores’ history has been very interesting to me, ever since I picked up my first copy, way back somewhere around issue 21 or 22. I watched it evolve over the next 50 issues before becoming a part of its history in early 2003 when I first joined the magazine. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to learn more about its history both before my time, and witness plenty more of it from the inside through my seven years with the team.

There have been some distinct periods in time for the magazine, like growth rings in a tree, where significant changes have taken place. Things like the introduction of extra pages; a new type of content; a redesign; going up in size; going from bi-monthly to monthly or a change of editors.

Street Commodores has seen five editors take the chair – myself included – before Liam Quirk’s recent step up. Interestingly, SC’s first chairman was James McRory, who is now the editor of a competing Commodore title. He was succeeded by Curt Dupriez who held the chair during the magazine’s first real boom, going from small format to large and going from a sporadic printing schedule to a true monthly title.

Jason Gray took over from Curt from issue 23, taking the reigns as editor for an impressive 83 issues of the magazine, countless special issues, poster books, DVDs and other products. Jason really helped take the magazine from strength to strength over that time. During his tenure we saw initiatives like the Summernats ‘Street Force’ take place, we witnessed the introduction of the Summernats special issues; Aussie Brutes magazine (which was a Commodore-only mag to begin with) and even Street Fords; the first SC DVDs; streetcommodores.com and the infamous forum… the list goes on.

It was Jason’s entrepreneurial vision and commercial drive that saw a lot of great things happen, setting a high standard for me to follow when I took over for issue 107.

I joined the team for issue 71, coming from a music journalism background and with a strong love of all things automotive. I learned fast under the guidance of Jason and then-deputy editor Scott Taylor. We were a small team (we’ve always been a small team), but we got a lot done each month and had a lot of fun doing it. It was during my development that I got Cruise for Charity off the ground.

During my tenure as editor, we started the Street Commodores LIVE! DVD series that came free with the magazine. We developed a good line of merchandise items, held track days, cruises, dyno days and plenty of trade stands where we could shoot the breeze with you.

We also changed our annual Car of the Year awards, allowing the public to vote for the winner from a Top 10 that we short listed. That has been a successful endeavour that we hope helps continue in the tradition of Street Commodores being one of the most accessible and interactive user experiences available.

For issue 127, my then-deputy editor, Ben Nightingale was handed the reigns as editor. I moved up to editor-in-chief, a role that kept me connected to my favourite magazine while also being asked to perform a much more managerial role for the entire performance car magazine division. That lasted until issue 146 when Ben left and my team and I got stuck into issue 147 while I still performed my duties as publisher.

I stepped down as editor-in-chief a couple of issues ago, handing the job over to my 2IC, Liam Quirk. I’m sure I’ve told the story of how Liam came to be working at Street Commodores before, but if not, I’m sure Liam would love to regale you with it some time. He’s been an amazing find, as far as team members go. Liam is very capable, driven and mature for his young years. I’m sure I’m going to enjoy watching his development as editor, from an ex-boss standpoint. I’m also going to enjoy seeing where he takes the magazine next, from a fan’s perspective.

Street Commodores is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2010. In this current climate where magazines and newspapers around the world are closing and/or going purely online, forgoing any tangible link to their audience, it’s both an achievement and a good representation of how dedicated and passionate Street Commodore’s readership is that we’re still around. For that we’re thankful. Be sure to stick around and see where the magazine heads from here on in.

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