901 Tower Drive Suite 420
Troy, Michigan 48098
My name is Michael Freeze, features editor at Transport Topics and co-host of the podcast, RoadSigns. We are a business-to-business weekly newspaper covering the trucking and logistics industries. I’m also the editor of Calibrate, a quarterly magazine catered to equipment and maintenance executives. As features editor, I am primary responsible for producing in-depth features that explore the issues facing the industry today.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
Currently with the excitement surrounding electric vehicles, we feel it’s an ideal time to see what is on the horizon for the internal combustion engine. There’s plenty of innovation going on with diesel and alternative fuels, yet it’s in the background as electric and autonomous vehicles are grabbing the headlines.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have worked on.
The most fun was a feature I wrote about the “Right to Repair” around 2004. It was not the story itself, but rather how the subject is prevalent today. Then, “Right to Repair” focused on passenger auto technicians’’ ability to gather repair information from an original equipment manufacturer. Now, I see a similar environment can be applied toward fleet techs and OEMs. It’s an instance of history not repeating itself, but definitely rhyming. A space to watch, for sure.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the work our team at Transport Topics has done in trade show coverage. First, I get the chance to speak with industry insiders. In addition, I get to work with a team of professionals who I learn from on a daily basis. Being on the road with my colleagues, working hard to produce content and getting feedback (good or souring) from our readers is truly rewarding and reminds why I wanted to become an editor.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story, and why?
Basically, the why. “Why are medium-duty trucks the preferred pathway to fleet electrification?” “Why is there a disconnect between trucking companies and drivers concerning retention?” We have found that the best stories are the ones with questions that WE don’t have the answers to. It makes the discovery more fulfilling, no matter what subject you’re covering.
Also, at times, there will be stories that will allow us to become teachers. “What is EV infrastructure and how will it affect my fleet?” I was taught that a great story happens when the author is the student gathering information, then becomes a teacher who explains the subject to the audience.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I’ve been in journalism for 22 years. My first job was an assistant editor/web for a magazine called Transportation & Logistics from Penton Media in Cleveland. I worked for other firms like Grandview Media, Babcox Media and other trade organizations before arriving at Transport Topics.
I fell in love with writing when I was in sixth grade. As a child early in elementary, I hated reading! During that school year, our class was regularly assigned a book report. We would walk to the school library, select a book, then write a report. I dreaded it so much; I never did the assignment and received a zero grade for weeks. One day, I selected a book and glanced at the cover. It was a drawing of a 1960s race car driver. At my desk, I just stared at the picture and started writing. After about 5 pages, I created a story just from my imagination. I handed it in and received an A. That moment, I thought, “If I can do this for living, I’d be a happy man!”
From there, I joined any school newspaper or group that allowed me to write, eventually found my passion for reading, pursued a career, and now, I’m a happy man.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
Talking to you about that weird news item I read the other day, the latest sports scores, music, politics (I do live in the D.C. area) or professional wrestling ad nauseum.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Know your industry. Get to know the editors you pitch to. Not only learn our editorial calendar, but more importantly our PRODUCTION calendar. At Transport Topics, the sweet spot to send your pitch email is about a month before the actual editorial calendar date. It is disappointing to get a pitch for a story that you already assigned.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
What do you mean pet peeve?! I love PR people! You’re doing a very difficult job: Putting your client in the best light possible and helping them improve their business by positioning them to be a thought leader in their respective industry.
I get it!
In doing all this, please make sure to research and target the most relevant publications. It’s great to cast a wide net, but from the editor’s chair, the pitches that aren’t for our industry, get to the trash bin quickly.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)
I live in the Washington D.C. area with my wife Candy and son, Mikale. I love learning, traveling and getting to know people and places. Born in Pittsburgh, Penn. Raised in Canton, Ohio
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience? (Maybe something that would surprise people?)
Yes. If Wolverine had wings, the rest of the X-Men would be out of a job. I stand behind this statement.
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