Meet the Media: Karn Dhingra, Reporter at Automotive News

I’ve been at Automotive News for six months covering auto cybersecurity and mobility finance. It’s a new ground for me. So far, it’s mostly been an enterprise-driven beat but I handle breaking news and spot news as well. During work hours when I’m not reporting, I’m usually on the phone checking in with sources, trying to connect with new sources and looking for story ideas and interesting angles on stories.

Out of journalism school, I worked at the Galveston County Daily News, near Houston. I reported on NASA and crime, local government, League City, the bedroom community close to Mission Control/Johnson Space Center. And I covered city and county government at the Victoria Advocate in Victoria, Texas which is about an hour and a half south of Houston.  

My journalism stops include S&P Global Market Intelligence, where I covered single-family housing, apartment, student housing, manufactured housing, office and industrial real estate investment trusts. I had a brief stint at Bloomberg Industry Group, where I was a Houston-based correspondent covering energy, environmental, tax, health, politics, and legal issues in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

I also reported on stadiums, arenas and ticketing for the Sports Business Journal, and I covered the Houston real estate market for The Real Deal, a New York-based real estate trade publication with somewhat of a tabloid bent.

Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?

I’m looking for trend stories about auto cybersecurity practices,  stories about breaches at automakers made by white hat (good)  and black hat (bad) hackers, privacy and data issues and any issues about software-defined vehicles.

I also cover the financing of startup companies in the auto industry and their adjacent sectors. So think lidar, radar, artificial intelligence, supply chain management tech, ride-hailing apps, battery and electric vehicle technology, hydrogen fuel cells, thermal imaging cameras or any new auto-related technology that I’ve missed.

Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.

The most fun story I did was probably in j-school when I hung out with military cosplayers for a day in a forest somewhere in New Jersey. They were dressed in fatigues and used military-grade equipment, except they had airsoft guns instead of real guns. Some of them were armed forces vets. They reenacted battle scenes from video games like Call of Duty and Metal Gear Solid. It was a multimedia piece that had video elements along with a written piece.

Professionally, the most fun story I did was at the Galveston County Daily News.  I hung out with a group of paranormal investigators for a night. They were searching for ghosts in one of Galveston’s most haunted buildings. The story went national and was picked up by the Associated Press.

What story or stories are you most proud of?

When I was at the Victoria Advocate, I investigated the head of the Victoria County jail. He was a retired army general running the jail from his house in a Washington, D.C. suburb. He was mostly hired to lobby Texas government officials for border security funding even though Victoria is a six-hour drive from the Mexico border. After the story ran, he resigned.

What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story, and why?

Stories with depth, context, data and third-party and expert voices are what my editors want. Stories with tension and opposing viewpoints usually are the best stories to read.

How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?

I’ve been a reporter off and on for about 14 years. Before I went to journalism school,  I worked in public relations and political consulting.

Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am … spending time with family and friends. Taking my three-year-old and my five-year-old to school, parks, museums, play dates and teaching them how to ride a bike,  

What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?

I like exclusives. Please read my stories to get a sense of what kind of topics I cover. Pitch news instead of promotional material. If you’re pitching me a story that’s already been covered by Automotive News or another outlet, I need a unique angle on it because my editors will not approve the story. Please keep in mind Automotive News’ readers pay for news they usually can’t get anywhere else.  

Any pet peeves with PR people?

Getting pitches that have nothing to do with what I cover.

Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)

I’m trying to read more books. I’ve started on Robert Caro’s series on Lyndon Johnson. I enjoy watching college football and basketball. I’m an NBA and MLB fan as well. I like cooking for my family and friends. Going to concerts and exercising when I can. 

You can follow Karn and Automotive News on Twitter:

Check out a few of Karn’s recent articles:

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