I came across a blog post yesterday entitled "We're Killing Automotive Media." I will be honest and preface what I am about to write by stating that I have never read anything published on this blog until yesterday, main reason being, quite simply, that the name of the blog is not one that particularly draws me in. (I am not going to link the article. If you are that curious, you can Google the blog post.)
The post focuses on the ease with which bloggers and online publishers can develop a following and how those individuals lack passion and, ultimately, harm the truly passionate content crusaders of the automotive publishing industry.
I read and re-read the post three or four times, as well as the blog post that it links. I have to say, I found myself perplexed. I found myself perplexed by the glaring hypocrisy present not only in the content of the article, but in perusing this particular blog's website. I was also a bit confused because I found myself questioning myself and JDMphasis. The author of this post calls out "micro bloggers,""talent-less hacks," non-photographers, and "content-stealers" urging his readers not to follow, link, LIKE, or click on their web or social media pages.
Perhaps this blogger is painting all bloggers/page administrators with a broad brush. Perhaps I am a bit paranoid in considering that I may be lumped into this group of irresponsible, uncreative, and uninspired contributors to the purported death of automotive media. In fact, there is a good chance I am. However, in reading this blog post multiple times, I believe this an ideal opportunity to describe JDMphasis as I see it.
I am not a writer. As much as I would love to write for a living, I do not. I have a degree in English Language and Literature, but I am not a writer. Writing does not pay my bills. In fact, I started JDMphasis almost 6 years ago on the advice of a couple people who work in the industry. I still maintain friendships with both of these people. One of these guys is the man behind Bulletproof Automotive.
I remember, as a teenager, reading a column in a Japanese tuning magazine entitled ‘The Real JDM.’ I was hooked. Then, a couple years later, after it could no longer be found on the pages of Modified magazine, I started following the electronic means of distributing this information: the blog. This lasted a few years. Fast-forwarding… When I finished undergrad, I started working in an office. I did not particularly love my job, but it was a job. I knew I was lucky to have one. One night, while browsing the blog, I remember being like, “What the hell… Why not?” I decided to shoot an email to the author of all those cool articles and blog posts about the industry I love. I spent some time over the course of a few nights drafting what I thought was a coherent, thorough, and all-encompassing message to the founder of a business that seemed to me to be the best place of employment on earth, a veritable JDM parts heaven.
My goal with the email was not only to convey my passion for the industry and to express that I shared the same ideals that he preached on a regular basis of ‘Representing the Real,’ but I also wished to see if he might be willing to provide me some professional advice on how I might be able to break into such a small, tight-knit industry. The love of literature and writing, as well as a passion for the Japanese tuning industry, I thought it only natural to seek out a “dream job” in writing about Japanese automotive parts. Who better to query than a person who has excelled in both of those spheres?
I hit that ‘Send’ button and, frankly, did not expect a reply. I figured this person had far too much on his plate and not enough time in his day to respond to my gushing inquiries.
I was wrong.
It was a matter of hours and I had a lengthy response in my inbox. I was overwhelmed to have received such a thoughtful and appreciative answer to my message. After a few emails back and forth, I had developed a friendship that has remained quite strong to this day. Well before inviting me out to the Bulletproof Automotive facility in Hawthorne, California a few years ago, Ben asked me to write a few posts for ‘The Real JDM’ at that time. I did and, ultimately, I started JDMphasis.
My goal for this blog, as outlined from the very first post, is to chronicle my own builds, share my experiences, and my opinions. I believe I have remained true to that goal over the past six years. As I stressed above, I actually doubt that I am one of the culprits guilty of “killing automotive media” referred to by the author of the post of that stance blog. If I am, this post shall serve as my rebuttal.
To the same end that I am not a writer, I am not a photographer. I suppose I may be one of the few automotive bloggers out there who is not a self-proclaimed photographer. I own a camera. I own a phone with a camera and, yet, I am not a photographer. I have a “nine-to-five” that commands my time for 50+ hours a week and provides me a bi-weekly paycheck and health insurance. I am not a photographer traveling from venue to venue snapping pictures of cars to share on the internet. As exciting as that would be, I have a job and taking pictures is not it. The vast majority of photographic content featured on this blog and the affiliated JDMphasis: Innovation over Imitation Facebook page is not my own. To those people who take issue with re-posting something I have discovered somewhere else, I apologize. I do not claim it as my own and I certainly do not go to any length of effort to thwart due credit. I have never knowingly denied or begrudged credit to a photographer (or writer).
Additionally, I do not have advertisements anywhere on the blog. I do not profit from pageviews or clicks. I blog and post random pictures of Japanese cars for no other reason than because I enjoy it. I would like to think I am doing a miniscule part in advancing a message of encouragement. Encouragement and acknowledgement of those enthusiasts who refuse to cut corners with their builds. I write about supporting the pioneers of the industry by buying authentic parts because I believe in it, not because I wish to make enemies with every keyboard warrior rocking Shine or AIT aero and/or Rota or Varrstoen wheels. (If anything, I lose LIKEs when I post about buying real… HA.)
Over the years I have had a few different stickers/decals made for the blog. I can remember posting one message on the blog and linking the site's PayPal address. I asked for donations in exchange for decals. I received a few from different readers/followers of the blog ranging from $2 to $10. I made less than $50 in those donations and I sent out a bunch of decals. Needless to say, I have spent close to 20x that amount in having the stickers made. My point in relating this information is to make it clear that this blog is not about putting money in my pocket. I love when I get a request for decals from a reader and I am happy to send some free of charge.
This little blog of mine is about reaching people in a way more substantial than someone sharing a random picture I have reposted. On a few separate occasions, I have received pictures of cars in different parts of the country featuring JDMphasis decals on their windows. That is pretty awesome for me. I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago that was shared by an employee of Varis. Varis! One of the best aero companies in the world. Maybe, to some, that is not an accomplishment worthy of note. To me, however, that is rewarding. And humbling. And just plain cool. I have friends on Facebook that I have never met in person. I “know” them through blogging and a shared interest and passion in Japanese cars and parts. That is special. That is what JDMphasis is about for me.
JDMphasis is not an enterprise. It is not about piling up LIKEs, followers, views, clicks, or money. It is not a means to an end.
JDMphasis… Innovation over Imitation