It seems every couple months we have to report on the changing landscape in the moto-journalism realm, as the motorcycle industry continues a heavy churn with its constant state of flux and never-ending evolution (or lack thereof).
So far, we have seen a massive shakeup of Bonnier’s motorcycle titles, including Cycle World going to a quarterly format and Motorcyclist publishing every-other month format, while closing titles like Sport Rider and consolidating titles like Bagger and Hot Bikes.
We have seen The MAG Group (which is going through its own bankruptcy proceedings right now) close the doors at Motorcycle-USA, and also sell Cycle News to the motorcycle industry’s top advertising network.
We have also seen RideApart sold to media conglomerate Motor1 (and recently lost its Editor-in-Chief), Vertical Scope’s Motorcycle.com just lost its #1 and #2 leaders, Canada Moto Guide (the largest online publication in that region) has switched ownership, and internet upstart Rider’s Domain (owned by Jake Wilson) just let go of a significant part of its content and editorial staff.
In their posting on MotoFire, the duo explain quite basically that money is the reason for MotoFire’s solicitation for acquisition, as the website has not been able to bring in the advertising dollars necessary to keep it viable for its owners.
Hunt and Jubb lay the blame at the feet of the British motorcycle industry, which has been slow to adopt the online media and work with media entities that are outside of the established print brands (not too unlike the US motorcycle industry, I might add).
If you want to know how they really feel, look no further than the posting’s opening paragraph, which quite candidly describes their perspective on the UK moto-journalism landscape and the struggles that independent publishers face:
Figuratively at least, most – if not all – UK based motorcycling websites are for sale. The same could be said for a few of the larger US-based publications too, but our direct experience has been mostly here within the UK , where we’ve directly opposed the way that other publications have bowed, kotowed and licked their way downwards towards the current motorcycling media climate’s position of ‘everything is pretty much terrible, but can we have some money please’.
Most significantly, MotoFire was the only true independently owned publisher in Britain’s two-wheeled space, with many of the brands owned by print publishing houses or part of larger online media conglomerates, like the Crash Media Group (which owns Visordown, BikeSportNews, and Crash.net).
This means that our friends across the pond have lost one of their few, if only, truly objective voices, which as the results show, is not something that the motorcycle OEMs are interested in supporting, or having in their markets.
To be clear, there are very few independent publications in the motorcycle industry at this point in time, and as such we hope MotoFire finds a new ownership team, so our journalistic ranks don’t dwindle further.
We here at Asphalt & Rubber wish Steve and Ian the best in their future endeavors. They are our kind of crazy, and MotoFire was one of the few publications in the motorcycle industry that was focused on the future of the media landscape. They were good fun at press launches too.