Motoring journalists get information for their stories from a range of sources. Some of it will come from their own experiences of driving new cars, or from conversations with contacts inside vehicle manufacturers, component suppliers and other organizations.
But for the day to day announcements of new and revised vehicles, and the essential delivery of official pictures and data, there are several online sources. So let’s take a look behind the scenes at some of the online resources most readers have never heard of – plus one or two which do have a public face – but which motoring journalists use every day.
Newspress is the oldest and best-known distributor of official news from the motor industry. Founded by former Motor editor Richard Benstead-Smith in 1972 it became an integral part of motor industry PR in the 1970s, distributing press releases and photos to journalists for all the major manufacturers. Nowadays most of that information is delivered by email, and through the Newspress website.
In addition to the latest press releases and photos, the Newspress site also includes useful extras such as a directory of press office contacts, dates of model launches and comprehensive specifications tables.
Newspress is open only to accredited journalists.
Headlineauto was founded in 2007 and does a similar job to its big rival Newspress. The site carries manufacturer press releases, press images, contact details and more. In addition, Headlineauto produces a range of content of its own, for instance providing its own coverage of motor shows to give editors an extra choice of content.
Users must register with Headlineauto, and access is only granted to working journalists.
One of a wide range of media information websites covering a variety of specialist areas, Motoring4media follows the familiar pattern of delivering press releases, images and information. Unlike Newspress and Headlineauto, which concentrate on the car makers and importers, Motoring4media has a wealth of information from automotive suppliers, charities, road safety organizations and pressure groups.
As with other official news sites, access is limited to accredited journalists only.
Car makers’ media websites
Each car maker has its own media website, and very often it has several – a main site, and several others covering different sales regions. The car maker media sites are very variable, but the best of them offer a wealth of background information and archive material (like Daimler's media site, above). Some also host live webcasts of press conferences and launch events, though high-profile launches have been known to bring down the host’s server….
Most vehicle manufacturer media websites require registration, but some are open to anyone – such as BMW Pressclub.
Car maker archives
Some car makers, like BMW, make company archive material available online to registered researchers and writers, which makes writing historical articles and books a great deal easier. Daimler is another company with an extensive online archive, but it’s far from common even among manufacturers with long and illustrious histories.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders site provides vehicle registration data, used car sales data, and a wealth of motor industry facts – all open to the public.
The Department for Transport site provides information on roads and transport policy – probably not something most automotive journalists would need to look at frequently, but a useful source on occasion. It's worth knowing your way around the information sites provided by government departments and official agencies, because motoring stories relating to public policy often involve several different areas of government.
Guild of Motoring Writers
The Guild of Motoring Writers is the biggest and most prestigious organization of motoring editorial people in the world. The Guild website delivers news about the Guild and provides information on issues of interest to anyone working in automotive media, from copyright and legal matters to details of Guild awards and advice on how to become a motoring writer. There's also a useful directory of freelances, and Guild members can access database of motor industry and automotive media contacts.