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Between The Lines – Preface

– by the Technicians of GROUP K

Technical perspective on recent popular publication articles.

Ever since there has been high performance vehicles, there has been industry publications writing about them. The information in the magazines is considered by most readers to be the gospel truth. That is…until that information conflicts with the same subject matter in a different magazine. At that point, the reader is not sure what to believe.

The advertisers in each publication are keenly interested in getting their products tested and evaluated by the magazine editorial staff. These editors regularly write articles that evaluate the performance and technical qualities of all the various PWC’s and PWC modifications. Each month these magazine editors must walk the fine line of being critical enough to satisfy the reader’s need for information, yet positive enough to satisfy the manufacturers desire for a favorable write up. This makes “reputable magazine editor” one of the toughest titles in the industry to hold. Since it’s impossible to make everyone happy, the magazine editor usually ends up with every one a little bit mad at him. It comes with the job.

Theoretically, the technical information and test results in all the PWC magazines should be identical. Simply put, inconsistent information among the magazines is the result of different levels of commitment to technical accuracy. Some publications intentionally avoid tests that yield definitive performance numbers.

Conducting consistent, accurate, and definitive performance tests requires expensive equipment, not to mention expensive hours of staff traveling and water time. Sometimes, after all this effort and expense, the editors find performance figures that are not what the advertiser had hoped for. The publisher is then faced with the choice of printing the unfavorable test results (which angers the advertiser), or writing an evasive article that ignores the results of a very expensive (and time consuming) test session. Some publishers simply choose evasive writing (known as “fluff”) from the get go, so as to avoid having to make the choice at all.

Group K believes that if magazine editors are qualified to write articles that evaluate the technical qualities of a given product, then product manufacturers are certainly qualified to evaluate the technical quality of those articles. That is what BETWEEN THE LINES is about. There are as many high quality, trend setting tech articles as there are illusive ones. BETWEEN THE LINES hopes to point out some of the differences that separate them.

The technicians at Group K openly acknowledge that we know nothing about the job of producing a popular industry publication. That’s why we build engines not magazines. We also acknowledge that not every editor needs to be a gear head with tunnel vision on technical detail. However, like it or not, the PWC industry is rapidly becoming much more technically oriented. This means that the technical quality of every one’s work is under much closer scrutiny.

As technicians, we believe that all good tech copy must meet at least 2 of 3 requirements:

A) Explain the complexities of a subject in a simplified way that most readers can comprehend.

B) Offer information that helps the reader to make a more educated buying decision, or better understand the importance of a kind of maintenance.

C) Offer enough information so that the reader can confidently make a cost vs. benefits decision.