Like many kids,
had an interest in cars at a young age. He loved magazines too, but more specifically car magazines. He would read them cover to cover the day they arrived in the mail, satiating his curiosity and developing a taste for automobiles, and engineering in general. Among his favorite magazines growing up was
, and as fate would have it, Austin recently joined the publication as automotive editor.
Born in East Lansing, Mich., Austin attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he obtained both a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering. Austin still lives in this quaint, arborous college town, working his new position remotely since Nov. 26 and reporting to the publication’s headquarters in New York.
Austin got his start in the automotive world as a gopher for
, a step he describes as “not unique” in the world automotive journalism. “A lot of people have started on that path [as a gopher] and then ended up in journalism through the years,” he said.
Previously a technical editor at
Car and Driver
, and before that, a road test editor at now-defunct
magazine, Austin is “really excited for the opportunity” to work at Popular Mechanics.
“Working with a new set of people…I think it will develop my editing and writing skills,” he said.
With the changing nature of the media industry toward a multi-platform medium, Austin sees Hearst Corporation, proprietors of Popular Mechanics, as well-positioned to make the most of what’s to come. “Popular Mechanics does a lot with the iPad version. An example of where print media is kind of expanding and adapting the magazine format,” Austin said.
He also believes that there are many options with electronic formatting. “You can incorporate video, you can incorporate animations,” he said. “At the same time, it’s a challenge to figure out what’s the best way to present something and use your resources. You can’t spend all your time or money on things that might not pay off.”
The ability to toe the line between utilizing the many forms of media available while delivering a quality product on a deadline and within budget will form the difference between those who see the rewards of media change and those who fail. Above all, content is still king.
“As Internet and digital journalism matures, people are starting to see that content and quality of work makes a difference,” said Austin. “That’s the one thing that’s kind of universal. It doesn’t change with the technology.”
Austin prefers product-related submissions with a focus on “car stuff,” he said. As far as accessories, gadgets, and aftermarket materials go, he’s still not entirely sure if he wants them but said, “I’ll figure it out with time.”
He asks that public relations professionals target the magazine’s coverage. “Take a moment and think about why [you] are pitching to Popular Mechanics, and how it would fit with our coverage.”
In general, he said he is open to new angles. “I try to get along with people, and see things from as many perspectives as possible,” he said.
Austin is available on Twitter at
and can be contacted via email.