Notes to an Article

I have had an article in the works for a while now where I have tried to address how to write articles for enthusiast magazines with the example of enthusiast magazines that service modified-car culture. The problem I was having was with how to position it. I have some great material derived from my PhD and the many dozen articles I have written (I have written 55 freelance articles this year, about 30 in the years previous, and easily over 100 as a staff writer). Now I have figured out that the best way for me to pitch this in the opening paragraph is to compare it to the introductory scholarship on writing for the news media.

These are the core analytical points I wanted to convey in this opening first section:

1. Writing for enthusiast media is not the same as writing for news media.
2. The enthusiast media is designed to tap into an enthusiasm and use it as a resource; it is primarily an affective discourse. News media is primarily meant to be free of affect and tends towards an ideal of ‘objectivity’.
3. If the point of news media journalism is to convey the Who, What, Why, Where, When and How (5 Ws and 1 H method) in the lead sentence, then enthusiast media attempts to hook the reader by inciting a particular affective response.
4. The news media attempts to represent the world so the reader can implicate it in their own respective lives; there is some truth to the ‘hyperdermic model’ of media transmission. However, the enthusiast media attempts to implicate the reader in the event of enthusiasm being reported on.

The second section then goes on to demonstrate what is required to be able to write in the affective mode.

1. An understanding and appreciation of the enthusiasm is required.
2. To understand enthusiasm means understanding the challenges faced by an enthusiast. Here I am unsure if I should offer a brief account of the post-Kantian conception of enthusiasm developed in my phd? It is by engaging with challenges that enthusiast bodies are mobilised. Within modified-car culture, a co-enthusiast will ‘read’ a given car in terms of the challenges it inculcates. This demonstrates the capacity and skill of the car’s owner to ‘rise to the challenge’.
3. Understanding the enthusiasm does not simply mean knowing about the objects of enthusiasm or even only the practices of enthusiasm. Within modified-car culture a car is not merely an object to be incorporated into the ego to facilitate gendered production of identity (hegemonic masculinity model), it is a topology of challenges that enthusiasts ‘read’ and confer respect accordingly. The aquisition of know-how is a product of practices that engage with challenges. There is a correlation between know-how and respect within the scene.
4. The job of the enthusiast media journalist is to represent how the enthusiast engaged with a given challenge. The affects of enthusiasm are expressed through this process of rising to the challenge, such as frustration, confusion, trickiness (like ‘smartness’), satisfaction, patience and determination.

The third section discusses the relation between an enthusiast magazine and the given enthusiast scene.
1. A given magazine covers a certain niche market which more often than not encapsulates a subculture within a scene.
2. The magazine is in a relation with enthusiasts and commercial interests. Within modified-car culture the commercial interests are mostly workshops and performance parts suppliers, but also includes event promoters.
3. Coverage of the scene is a media event that seeks to translate the affects of a given event through enthusiast discourse in such a way as to implicate the reader in the broader affective mobilisations of the scene.
4. The content of the scene selected for coverage in a magazine is explicitly valorised, through publication, as being worthy of appearing in the magazine.
5. The political economy dimension to enthusiast magazine coverage of the scene is that coverage is shaped by commercial imperatives of ‘keeping the advertisers happy’.
6. Unlike normal media this is not that much a problem in that those elements selected from commercial interests are also worthy of being valorised. The function of the enthusiast media is not to change the enthusiast-determined heirarchies of value within the scene, but to segment and select portions of it according to the commercial imperatives.

The conclusion points out that niche-market media that services a given enthusiasm is the way of the future for media companies that are coming to terms with shifting from being print publishers to being online publishers. In Australia, just as many other national contexts with a developed media ecology, there are many different enthusiast media publications that target and service many different enthusiasms.

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