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I am the managing editor at CNET Roadshow. Here, I get to test the latest and greatest cars in a variety of locations, and get to report on a wide range of automotive news topics.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
Because I’m in a managing editor role, the majority of my time is actually spent helping others create great stories. When I’m not editing and coaching writers, I tend to look at stories with a more enthusiast edge — not just fast, exciting cars, but any angle of the automotive space that genuinely gets people excited. From elements of car culture to new technologies that improve the way people interact with their vehicles, I’m all about stories that showcase the enjoyment of motoring, and the bond between a car and its driver.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
I’m fortunate to have been able to write some really amazing stories. From lapping the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife in a torrential downpour to riding right-seat with rally drivers through forest race stages, I’ve made a great career of going very fast while toeing the line between thrilling and dangerous.
In 2018, I traveled to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia to dig for dinosaur bones using new paleontological technology, with Infiniti SUVs getting me across the rough terrain. Heavy wind and rain made getting in and out of the Gobi a real struggle. At one point, desert roads (really just tire tracks in the dirt) washed out right before my eyes, and a fleet of off-road-prepped SUVs was barely able to tackle the thick mud. We almost tipped over during a flash flood. We got stuck twice. It’ll go down in history as one of the most memorable weeks of my life — not just for the story, and the thrill of finding a dinosaur bone that’s freaking 80 million years old, but for the adventure of actually getting there and back.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
While I love telling a good tale, I also take great pride in being able to report breaking news. In early 2018 I was one of a handful of journalists invited to Sweden to see what Volvo’s electro-performance off-shoot Polestar was up to, and was able to report an in-depth look at the company’s future products before any other US outlet had the story.
Still, it’s the long-form storytelling that I enjoy most. In 2019 I spent a weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and profiled father-and-son rally duo Petter and Oliver Solberg. I’ve written stories about driving in the freezing temperatures of the Arctic Circle. I’ve traveled to Japan to hang out with people who love big-winged Subarus. And hey, just a few months ago, I managed to work an f-bomb into a car review without angering my copy editors (I think).
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
I love stories that promote enthusiasm for car culture. I like giving readers who don’t identify as “car people” reasons to want to read about the automotive space. I also like any story where I can work in humor and a personal approach. There is a time and a place for good reporting and business writing — and I admire the professionals who put those skills first. But for me, it’s all about coming away with an experience that makes you think, “I can’t wait to tell everyone about this.”
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I’ve always loved writing and I’ve always loved cars, so I’m fortunate to say I’ve spent the majority of my life in and around automotive journalism. My mom took a job at Automobile magazine when I was a kid, and I begged her to take me to work as much as possible, so I could ride in the test cars, talk to the editors, and try my damndest to get my foot in the door.
I got my first assignment when I was 16 years old, reporting on a teen driver training course put on by BMW, and following an internship at Automobile while I was in high school, I landed a staff position at Winding Road magazine in late 2005, a start-up headed by Automobile founder and the so-called Dean of Automotive Journalism, David E. Davis, Jr. I’ve jumped around to a few outlets since then, and have been at CNET Roadshow since Jan. 2018.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am…
Editing. Still editing. Always editing. Or I’m probably in a meeting that’s taking me away from editing.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Don’t try to force your specific angle for a story down my throat. Present the materials and the opportunity being offered, and then let’s work together on creating a great story for my readers.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
I get a lot of pitches for things not even remotely tied to automotive which, like, why? I also get a lot of follow-up emails to those pitches which, again, why? I never go into a story without doing some research about the topic, so if you’re pitching me something, do a little research about who I am and what I write about (hint: not smart toilets).
Oh, and a new car debut without accompanying images is completely useless. Don’t skimp on the pics!
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)
I was born in Detroit, and lived in various places around southeast Michigan for 30 years. In 2017, I moved to Los Angeles, where I’ve officially kissed the wintertime blues goodbye. If this whole writing about cars thing didn’t work out, I’d probably have pursued a career in music; I’ve been playing the drums since I was 7 years old and studied a wide range of percussion instruments and music theory during high school. I can speak enough conversational Spanish to order tacos and beers, which is really all I need. Speaking of food, I’ve been getting into cooking in recent years, which hasn’t led to burning down my kitchen — yet. But otherwise, I like to go to new restaurants and let other people do the cooking for me. I’ve also never met a barcade (that’s bar-arcade) I didn’t like.
You can follow Steven on Twitter and Instagram at: @stevenewing