Changes are afoot at Motorcyclist magazine, as the monthly publication is set to move to a six-issue per year format starting in Spring 2017. That transition will come from the direction of a new leader too, as Editor-in-Chief Marc Cook will be leaving Motorcyclist as well.
Cook outlined his departure, and announced the new format for Motorcyclist, in a short post to his “Cook’s Corner” column online, citing the many contributions his team of writers have made over the course of his tenure at the magazine.
As the opening paragraph to Cook’s goodbye letter coyly suggests, the media landscape in the motorcycle industry is shifting, pushing Motorcyclist magazine in a new direction, which also seems to be pushing hardcore journalists out of the medium.
Externally, classic print stalwarts like Cycle World, Motorcyclist, and Sport Rider (all publications I grew up reading) are struggling to find a profitable footing in an increasingly digital world that has shifting attention spans and diverse tastes.
Internally, the three publications, which are all owned by the Bonnier Corporation, are also working to find a distinct set of voices now that they are under one roof and sharing common resources.
Bonnier now has a marketing and public relations arm as well, which produces content and public events for industry players and motorcycle consumers. We should point out that a handful of the press launches Asphalt & Rubber attended this year were hosted by Bonnier, on behalf of a specific brand.
As this blurring of the division between business and editorial seems to increase as time goes by, we hear too that Motorcyclist will shift to become more of a lifestyle oriented publication going forward. A mainstream Iron & Air, if you will.
It is not clear how this will affect the Motorcyclist’s online presence, but that format change might be a strong move for Bonnier, and help Motorcyclist differentiate itself from the publication of record slant that continues to fuel sister mag Cycle World.
The question will be though, will this new venture be profitable enough to sustain Motorcyclist going forward, and will Bonnier’s other magazines be able to fill the gap that Motorcyclist leaves behind?
A last question might be as well whether all this change can occur while using the same set of ethics that old-school journalists espoused, or if a new set of values will have to manifest itself from new media players? As always, time will tell.