Joann Muller: Autonomous Vehicles Reporter at Axios

Please provide your job title and media outlet(s), as well as a brief description of your duties:
I have the newly created title of Autonomous Vehicles Reporter at Axios. I publish a twice-weekly newsletter on AV tech and its impact on policy, the economy and society. We’ve been publishing since mid-September.

Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
I’m interested in anything about the future of transportation, but particularly stuff about automated vehicles. I’m going narrow and deep – there’s so much hype around self-driving cars but not enough attention on the really difficult issues that have to be resolved for this technology to advance. So I’m looking a lot at policy issues and economic and social issues, too. I’m also interested in understanding business strategies tied to AVs.

Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
It’s early—I haven’t been at Axios very long. But I had a lot of fun with my Halloween newsletter writing about some of the “scary experiences” I’ve had in cars equipped with advanced driver assist systems.

What story or stories are you most proud of?
Right now, I’m proud of getting a newsletter out twice a week that’s chock full of important and useful information. It’s almost like publishing a mini-magazine. It takes a lot of work, especially to tell a story in Axios’ unique “Smart Brevity” format.

What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
It’s probably helpful to understand more about Axios. The company has only been around since January 2017. The founders already have one successful media startup under their belt, which is Politico. Axios is their latest endeavor to reinvent journalism.

We are a new media company delivering vital, trustworthy news and analysis in the most efficient, illuminating and shareable ways possible. We offer a mix of original and smartly narrated coverage of media trends, tech, business and politics with expertise, voice AND Smart Brevity — on a new and innovative mobile platform. At Axios — the Greek word for worthy — we provide only content worthy of people’s time, attention and trust.

Axios is now growing into new coverage areas like Energy, Science—and Autonomous Vehicles.

What makes Axios Autonomous Vehicles newsletter unique is that it includes content contributed by “Expert Voices” — executives, engineers, policy wonks, academics, etc. — people who are experts in the AV field. Their posts are edited by our Expert Voices staff and curated by me for the newsletter.

We’re also looking for those same experts to contribute links to articles they’ve read elsewhere that they think are important, along with a few sentences about “why it matters.”

Our goal is to build a tight community of people in the AV field who read and learn from one another.

How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I was born and raised in Connecticut, earned journalism degrees from the University of Rhode Island and Northwestern University and came to Detroit to take a job at the Detroit Free Press in 1988, expecting to stay no more than two years. But I found the people here to be among the friendliest I’d ever met, and the city’s charms, even during the late 80s, were irresistible. I’ve been here ever since (except for a few years at the Boston Globe), working for BusinessWeek, then Forbes and now Axios.

Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
Playing tennis, sailing on Lake Saint Clair or just hanging out with family.

What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Make sure your pitch is AV-related (I’m no longer interested in general news about the auto industry) and it helps if it is sharply focused on a topic or issue. Everything I write is going to be boiled down into Axios style, and if you can’t tell me “why it matters” I probably won’t write about it. I also love scoops!

Any pet peeves with PR people?
I love PR people who help me!

Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)
My husband and I have been married for 25 years, and have two daughters, 19 and 22, and a dog named Gus.

You can read my newsletter here and subscribe to your choice of Axios newsletters here.
Follow me on Twitter @JoannMuller and @Axios.

Check out some of Joann’s latest work here:

Hunkering Down for the AV Race

GM and Ford Push into Two-Wheeled Transportation

Some Auto Safety Systems can be Downright Scary

One Comment

  1. Posted November 12, 2018 at 1:12 pm by Sean Dowdall

    Thanks Joann – I enjoy the Axios newsletter!

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