How do I get a job in the moto industry? This question gets brought up on a recurring basis.
How do I get a job in the moto industry? This question gets brought up on a recurring basis.
Lets be honest you aren’t going to be a professional racer and chances of you being a mechanic aren’t that good either. Butt there are several other jobs in moto that you could possible slip into and make a career out of. I’m going to get in touch with some of these industry insiders for short features. What are the ins and outs of these moto industry jobs and how did they get there?
“Moto media” is a pretty broad job description these days, as anyone with an iPhone and in IG account can call themselves media. The backbone of moto media has always been the motorcycle magazine which has evolved into online content. If you want to work in the moto industry working at a magazine sounds like a pretty cool gig. Interview riders, travel around the world to attend races, get wined and dined by advertisers, and all you have to do is pound out some stories sounds easy enough right? I got in touch with Anton at Transworld Motorcross and Chase at RacerX to get the ins and outs of working in the moto magazine industry.
What are the most repeated and annoying grammatical error posted on social media by pro riders?
Anton: Honestly, this is a common thing from the mass population. I see a lot of effect-affect, they’re-their-there, capital letters when they’re not needed, extra commas or apostrophes, missing commas or apostrophes. It’s actually not too bad when riders do it, but it’s frustrating when “journalists” cannot spell or use simple punctuation.
Chase: Two many to mention. (See what I did they’re.) I don’t except riders to be grammar aficionados, especially on social media, but anyone over the age of 12 should know the difference between to, two and too, your and you’re, and there, their and they’re.
Can you please describe the difference between, there, their and they’re for all the riders.
Anton: “There” is used to indicate a place like, “The big double over there,” or to get someone’s attention like, “Hey there!” “Their” is used to indicate possession like, “Someone left their gas can at the track.” “They’re” is a shortened version of “they are” like, “They’re coming around the first turn.”
Chase: There is a place or position. Their is used to show possession. They’re is a contraction of they are.
What was your first notable piece of written work? A story, poem, interview, match.com bio?
Anton: Aside from a few teenage angst-ridden blogs on MySpace (they’ve been deleted, thank God), the first thing I put together was the 2009 Indianapolis SX Race Report for TWMX.
Chase:I’m still proud of my Farmersonly.com profile. I don’t really remember my first notable piece, but early in my Vurb Moto days I wrote about how much I hated Twitter and people flipped out. Twitter was the rage back then, bro. Not so much now.
When and how did you get involved in moto?
Anton: Racing has always been in my family, from my grandfather’s stock cars in the 1950s to now. I wanted to race go-karts but my dad was completely against it, and instead we bought a Z50 when I was seven. My younger brother and I rode almost every day at our house in Illinois, and a few years later my parents took us to the races. It was by far the best thing they did for us. Everything was going well until my senior year in high school. A string of hard crashes had tested my dad’s nerves and wrecked my back, and we decided to quit racing. I was still consumed by the sport and saw how much fun that guys like Swap, Beeker, and John Knowles were having at the races, and decided that I needed an industry job.
Chase: My dad and three older brothers all rode. I got started pretty young, but I focused more on stick and ball sports until I was in college.
How did you learn how to write articles and stories? How to structure them, correct grammar, punctuation etc?
Anton: I read hundreds of books and magazines as a kid, so that’s probably how I learned how to build a story. But I’m not an English Major. I was in “Technical English” during my senior year in high school, which was basically a class that showed us how to make a cover letter for a resume (which I already knew how to do from SponsorHouse.com), fill out inventory forms at warehouses, or make a report for a hypothetical business trip. I’d write assignments that recapped a weekend at the races or a day at the test track, and acted like they were for Donn or Davey Coombs. Since I wasn’t in a serious English class, I wasn’t allowed to take journalism electives in school. Which is funny, because I’m sure I’m the only person in that graduating class that has a job with a credible media outlet. Donn and Chris Kinman best explained grammar and punctuation, and I had to listen to what they said or else I’d have been fired. I still get things wrong, so it’s a work in progress.
Chase: College. I graduated from College of Charleston (in Charleston, South Carolina) with a degree in Media Studies. I don’t believe you have to go to college to be a writer or journalist or whatever you want to call it, but it certainly helped me.
How has the moto magazine industry evolved since you’ve been involved?
Anton: It’s completely different than it was when I joined full-time five years ago. Because the website is constantly updated, there’s no point in putting specific race coverage or breaking news in print. The magazine now has “timeless” features that aren’t dated before it reaches the newsstand, and the overall look is more refined and artistic than the attention grabbing headlines that were common in the past. The Internet and social media are the main ways that news goes out to the public. There are some positives to this, like that everything is instantaneous and we can see detailed metrics of every article. The print publishing industry is shrinking and anyone that says otherwise is lying or in denial. But that’s not horrible, because the quality of what goes into print has gone up.
Chase: How quickly, and important, social media has become certainly changed things. Also, when I started, our web presence wasn’t huge. We ran things like Racerhead and Ask Ping, but now we’re producing 25-plus features, and even more breaking news, a week. How quickly people want news has also made our jobs tougher. No longer can you go to race and then write a mag story a few weeks later. You have to constantly be updating social media and the website. It can make for some long days and nights.
Do you ever foresee a time when print magazines will go away completely?
Anton: As long as advertisers spend money and people buy magazines, no. The numbers will go down, pretty much like what digital streaming has done to music and movies, but there won’t be a sudden halt to print like what many feared five years ago.
Chase: I hope not. Is it possible? Sure. You’d have to be an idiot not to see that readers spend a majority of their time online. I think magazines will always have a place, it just may not be in print.
What is the last print magazine you bought?
Anton: I used to subscribe to GQ and Esquire, but both of those lapsed a while ago because I’m lazy. I’ll still grab one before a long flight or something, but $6.99 for a single copy is about a third of the price of a subscription. To help the media industry out, I’ll go renew those two now…
Chase: I have a subscription to Esquire. And I steal DC’s ESPN the Magazine and Sports Illustrated copies once he’s done with them.
Social and online media has changed the job description of a “journalist” what’s a summary of your responsibilities or job description?
Anton: As Online Editor, I’m tasked with maintaining the website (motocross.transworld.net) with original and aggregated content, overseeing our social media channels, and contributions to our monthly print magazine. A weekend at the races means I have to shoot photos and collect news for Kickstart, film Pit Pass videos, share news through Instagram/Twitter/Facebook, interview riders for How Was Your Weekend, and maybe write the race report. During the race season I spend the rest of the week editing the work that I compiled at an event, posting any news that comes from the local tracks, and in meetings with our company to learn best practices for the website. The offseason is actually harder, because you have to work to get content. A trip to the test track or an overseas race might result in a dozen posts on the website, so I try to do as many of those as possible.
Chase: Jason Weigandt and I are in charge of RacerXOnline.com. Basically, it means he and I come up with a weekly schedule, proof every piece that comes through, and also write a lot of the features. I also handle Racer X social (Instagram is more a team effort) and manage the Racerhead section of Racer X Illustrated—which means writing, coming up with ideas, proofing, etc.—as well as write feature stories for the magazine. I also manage a lot of our projects, like the online gift guide and MotoDynasty Fantasy.
Do you write better with the pressure of a deadline looming over you or without restrictions?
Anton: It depends. Sometimes I feel like it brings out the best in my work, because I’m very focused on the article, but these last few deadlines have been a nightmare. Since the website always needs content, my whole life is a deadline.
Chase: I’m a procrastinator. I work better on a tight deadline.
What story or article are you most proud of writing?
Anton: The drug testing article from the January 2015 issue. I love cycling and am fascinated by everything that happened to that sport, so I was well versed in the drugs, risks and rewards, procedures, and testing that come from a doping program. It came right in the middle of the James Stewart WADA saga, but that was sheer coincidence. I like everything in Zach Osborne’s feature from our newest issue. His career has taken more turns than people might realize, and that time in Europe changed the way he looked at the world. I was able to chronicle everything from start to finish, and Mike Emery shot incredible photos with Zach, Brittney, and Emory. Josh Grant was very open in his feature earlier this year. He’s not the only rider to go through injuries, financial problems, or family issues in this sport, but he’s one of the few that are willing to speak about it. I did an interview right before Ryan Villopoto went to Europe that was posted online. RV knew that his career was coming to an end, which made it much more relaxed than any other interview we’d done before.
Chase: Hard to say. The one I received the most positive feedback from was “The World’s Fastest Town”, which chronicled the fight between the Millsaps Training Facility and Georgia Practice Facility and the town of Cairo, Georgia.
Any tricks or tips to transcribing interviews?
Anton: Listen closely, replay a sound bite as many times as necessary, and do not alter what they say at all.
Chase: Yeah, get Dirt Girl to do it. She’s great.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, which format of social media is the most relevant for your magazine?
Anton: Facebook and Twitter are the most important for the website, because they send people directly to an article, and page views mean money. The general Internet visitor doesn’t usually come through the main part of the site any more and instead they are drawn into catchy headlines, images, or articles that they see on social media. Instagram is artistic and lets the photos shot by our incredible staff tell the story. The number of followers we have is a nice ego stroke, but it’s rare for a post on Instagram to impact our web traffic.
Chase: Surprisingly, probably Facebook. It drives the most traffic to our site, by a LOT.
Who’s your favorite rider to interview and why?
Anton: Zach Osborne, because we have a high level of respect for each other outside of our work and he answers anything that I ask. Nick Wey, because of his sense of humor and style. It’s funny how friendly we are, because I thought NYK was a badass when I was a kid. Malcolm Stewart, because there are always questions surrounding his career and he is straightforward. Phil Nicoletti, because he’s the only person that’s equally as miserable as I am. Andrew Short, because he’s genuine. Adam Cianciarulo, because we share music and he doesn’t hide his true feelings, even if it’s different than what’s common in the sport. Chad Reed, because he tells it like it is. His honesty has bit me a few times and now I know to be prepared when talking with CR22. I respect what every professional racer does and know that there are times that I’m not their favorite person, but as long as they don’t treat me like shit, we’re all good.
Chase: I don’t really have a favorite. But back when Weston Peick was a privateer, he was great. You never knew what he was going to say. Most of it was off record, but it was fantastic.
When comparing moto to other mainstream sports how or what should we change to evolve and grow?
Anton: Coy Gibbs is right. We need to carry ourselves like real journalists. It seems as though practically anyone can get a press pass and there are a lot of people with access that don’t understand the level of ethics that come with the job. If you want riders, teams, and media members to respect what you, then put forth the effort. Don’t report things based solely off of social media posts or message boards, and for damn sure don’t steal the work of others. There are quite a few people guilty of that.
Chase: This is tough to answer. We still have a ways to go until we’re comparable to mainstream sports—if it happens at all. Better TV contracts, rider salaries, finding a way for teams to make money, more exposure for outside sponsors, attracting larger media companies (i.e. ESPN, etc.) would be a good start.
Worst travel experience?
Anton: Unadilla 2012. I had a broken collarbone and a case of MRSA that nearly resulted in lost vision of one eye, and spent the entire week prior to the race at a meeting in Florida. I was supposed to go from Florida to California on Thursday night and California to Unadilla on Friday, but a last-minute trip to the hospital in Florida kept that from happening. The infection had spread through my body, so I spent a few hours connected to an antibiotic drip bag. The next morning, I went to New York and stayed in one of the worst hotels in Utica. As bad as all of that was, I didn’t want to let the magazine down. To make sure there was no risk of contamination at the race, I avoided everyone, finished my work, and slept the entire flight back to California.
Chase: A couple years ago I was in Vegas for the Monster Energy Cup and we hit the town pretty hard after the race on Saturday. I had a red eye flight Sunday night, which meant I didn’t have a hotel room all Sunday afternoon. So, I did what any normal human being would do in Vegas, and spent the day at the casino. I had to leave for the airport around 7 p.m., so to sober up I drank three Starbucks and a Rockstar. It did the trick, but I didn’t sleep the entire red eye. It was awful.
Favorite supercross stadium, and favorite motocross track?
Anton: Once you walk into the pit area, every track and stadium feels the same. It’s the cities nearby that make the biggest difference. For Supercross, it’s between St. Louis and Toronto. I’m literally home in St. Louis because the stadium is twenty-five miles from where I grew up. I get to see all of my family and friends, stay at my house, and always go to my favorite places for dinner. In Toronto the people are extremely polite, the city is one of the nicest on this side of the world, and there are hundreds of nice hotels, street meat carts, beer markets, and restaurants within walking distance of the track. Outdoors, it’s between Millville, Washougal, or Thunder Valley. Millville is one of the most photogenic tracks on the circuit, the weather is either really nice or extremely humid, and the fans all have the same Minnesota-nice personality (watch Fargo to see what I’m talking about). Even though it’s a challenge to shoot in the dark, the trees make Washougal unlike any other track. Portland is nearby, which is one of my favorite cities to visit, and Moser always shows up. The mountains at Thunder Valley provide a different backdrop, Denver has everything you want for food, and I can fly out as soon as the race is over on Saturday night.
Chase: Rogers Centre in Toronto. High Point. Just because I get to sleep in my own bed after the race.
Coolest trip you’ve taken for work?
Anton: I went to Italy earlier this year with Pirelli. The two days I spent in Sicily were like a vacation because I stayed in a resort on the Mediterranean Sea, ate and drank like I was Tony Soprano, and even rode at a nearby track. Then I went to Milan and was given a personal tour of the Pirelli testing facility, which is located underground in the middle of the city. I drove across the country to the MXGP round in Mantova, where I had dinner with Matthes and Pookie. And I went back to Italy with Alpinestars for the Motocross of Nations. We stayed near the company offices in Asolo, which is a small village at the base of the mountains that has plenty of cafes and bars to waste hours in. The media communications department at Alpinestars organized a trip through the mountains and to Venice on Honda street bikes, and that day was one of the best times I’ve ever had on a motorcycle. To be honest, any trip I take that involves a motorcycle is incredible. I love being in the pits and at the track each weekend, and I don’t think there’s a way I could leave what I have for a job outside this industry.
Chase:A few years ago I had the opportunity to spend four or five days riding, boating, drinking and doing other cool stuff in Cozumel, Mexico, for a story. We did a mag story on it called “The Three Amigos.” Find and it and read it. Jordan Roberts did an awesome job on the story. It even includes a tidbit on our magazine editor breaking his leg in the Mexican jungle and having to get rescued by the Mexican Army.
Why do teams and riders hide injuries from the media?
Anton: Probably because there is a lot of money and pride at stake for everyone involved, and they want to control the news that goes to their sponsors or others in the sport. The teams need to let the people that are involved in their programs know when something has happened, and it definitely doesn’t help a sponsor-team relationship when the people providing the money or products learn the news through a web post or message board thread. I understand it to a point. It’s a small sport and once something happens, especially in California, it’s easy for news to spread. But at the same time, it’s easy for a team to contact someone like Donn or myself and explain what happened, before the friend of a friend feeds us a credible lead that we then have to chase.
Chase: I wish I knew. It’s really a disservice to the fans. Feld and MX Sports should require teams to release injury reports prior to every race, just like other leagues do.
Growing up what was your favorite motorcycle magazine?
Anton: TransWorld Motocross, of course! I got my first copy for Christmas in 2000, Travis Pastrana was on the cover, and memorized every issue after that. It makes my friendship with Donn even stranger, because I basically knew his family before I ever met them, and now they invite my wife and I to holiday dinners. At the same time I loved Racer X and owe a lot of my moto knowledge to the history stories penned by Davey and Eric Johnson.
Chase: Racer X, of course.
How do you get over writers block?
Anton: It depends on the situation. If I have some time to work on the article, I’ll leave it alone until an idea comes. If I’m on a deadline, I’ll put on music to drown out distractions and if that doesn’t work, there’s a modestly stocked liquor cabinet in my kitchen.
Chase: Lots of alcohol. Seriously, it really depends. A lot of times I’ll read stories by more accomplished authors to get the creative juices flowing. Or I’ll workout or watch TV. Anything to get away from the story.
Do you take it personally when readers are harsh in the comments or on social media in response to something you’ve written or posted?
Anton: At times, yes. There is one guy on Vital that constantly criticizes TWMX as a whole, and other members of the message board mafia have insulted my work more than a few times. I like GuyB and Michael Lindsay, but I don’t have an active account there. There’s no point in fighting with someone online. I know my work and don’t let criticism have an adverse affect, unless it’s from Donn.
Chase: No. You have to have thick skin if you want to work in media. Plus, people are dicks on the Internet—to everyone, not just me.
When you open up the newest issue of Transworld/RacerX what’s the first thing you flip to?
Anton: We see every issue before it gets sent to the printer through layouts and proofreading. When the box of magazines show up I start with Swap’s column, mostly because it’s at the front of the book.
Chase: Noise and Two Tribes. Even though I’ve already read them, there’s something about seeing it in print.
I once slipped this dick “8====D” into the heading on an article I wrote for PulpMX and Matthes was pissed. What’s a mistake you made that got you into hot water?
Anton: I got fired from my internship in 2010. I was tasked with the race report for the Atlanta SX and in the 250 Main Event, Justin Barcia banged his way to the front but fell down with a few laps to go. In the recap I wrote something like, “After an aggressive run to the front, karma caught Barcia with a simple crash later in the race.” Donn was understandably pissed and the email he sent on Monday morning still makes me sick. We didn’t speak for months and I figured my time in moto was finished. I was close to committing to college and life as a schoolteacher when Donn sent a text that said although I didn’t work for him anymore, we were still friends. Really, I think he needed an interview transcribed.
Chase: This was right around the time I started and we had been out pretty late the night before. Well, I had a pretty bad hangover and was kind of coasting through the day. I received a frantic call from another guy in the office telling me everything on the site was wrong. I was pretty confused, as everything looked good. Turns out I labeled everything Los Angeles…. when the race was in Phoenix.
How did you get your job at Transworld/RacerX and what wood be your advice to someone who wants to get a job working for a moto magazine?
Anton: In 2009 I wrote Donn an email that explained how I wanted to work in the industry, but didn’t know if it was possible because I was so far from California. He didn’t reply to it, so I tracked him down at the trade show in Indianapolis a few weeks later and presented him with an embarrassing homemade business card and some horrible photos I’d taken at local races. He really should have ignored me but instead said I was a capable writer due to the email and that I should work for him as “Intern.” For a few years I did everything that I could to help the staff. I’d walk out of holiday dinners to transcribe interviews and called off at my retail job to write race reports. As much as I tried to help, I see now that I was a huge pain in the ass to Chris Kinman, Brendan Lutes, and Bayo Olukotun. A full-time position as the Online Editor opened up in 2011 and the company flew me to California for an interview with the editorial director. Somehow I got hired and I moved across the country just before the start of the 2012 season. This might be the best job in the industry. But it’s not easy and there are only a few salary-paying positions, so you’ll have to prove your worth to the people in charge. Don’t think that you’re best friends with every rider, because it’ll only hurt your credibility later on, when you say something that person doesn’t like or when people detect your favoritism.
Chase: I applied to an opening they had. Advice? Bring something to the table. Yeah, sure, it’s great that you’ve ridden since you were five, but if you can’t shoot photos, or videos, or write, or copy edit, then it’s going to be hard to work for a media company. I think some people forget that we’re actually a media company, just like ESPN, Fox Sports, etc. Albeit on a much, much, much smaller scale. Another tip. Get to know people in the industry. Even if you’re unable to travel to races, send them an email saying who you are and that you’re interested in the company. You may not get a response right away, but it’s a way to get your name on his or her radar.
What’s the last book you read?
Anton: League of Denial, by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru. It’s about the concussion crisis in the NFL and how poorly every party handled the problem. I highly recommend it to anyone involved in motocross, because I personally feel like our sport will face the same issues someday soon. Dave Mirra was the first confirmed case of CTE in action sports and there will likely be many more.
Chase: I’ve been on a Hell’s Angles kick. In the last month I’ve read: “Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga”, “No Angel”: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner-Circle of the Hells Angels, and“Hell’s Angel”: The Autobiography Of Sonny Barger.
Do you have a favorite journalist?
Anton: David Walsh and Paul Kimmage. They studied Lance Armstrong during the height of his career and doping program, and they were vocal in their criticism of his success while the rest of the sport pretended to be blind to the issue. Both were basically shunned by the rest of the sport, and wound up being right about everything. They’ve written a few excellent books on the topic.
Chase: Lee Jenkins at Sports Illustrated.
Easiest rider to get an interview with and most difficult rider to get an interview with?
Anton: Every guy has a day when they’re either incredibly open to talk or want nothing to do with me. Now that I’ve been around for a while it’s easy to get interviews with almost anyone, as long as I can figure out their mood first.
Chase: You’d be surprised, but most of the riders—even the top guys like Dungey, Roczen, Tomac, etc.—are usually pretty easy to get in touch with. You may have to go through the teams PR—especially for top names—but they are all pretty good about doing media. I’ve heard that James Stewart can be tough, but I wouldn’t know personally. I’ve only interviewed him at the races.
Thanks to both for their time and for giving us a peak behind the curtain and a look into what their jobs entail on a week-to-week basis. If you have a request for interviews on a specific career field in the moto industry email it to firstname.lastname@example.org Moser or PulpMX and he will make sure to forward it along.
Thanks for reading Moser.