Two Malcolms from Two Magazines
October 4, 2005
I love magazines. Love, love, love. They're full of short, frequently-updated content and they make good use of layout and pictures: that's what I love in a medium.
I've been a magazine junkie since I was old enough to read, and part of the reason why I read so many is because it gives you a great way to find out a little bit about a lot of things. But sometimes, there's the rare chance to get two different views of a single topic.
Witness the story of Malcolm Bricklin. The entrepreneur behind the Yugo and the upcoming Chinese-made Chery automobiles which are due to enter the U.S. market, Bricklin's story is a fairly conventional "irrepressible dealmaker" narrative. In fact, it's prototypical enough that Inc recently put him on the cover, under the banner "Would You Buy a Chinese Car from This Man?"
From the intro to the Inc piece:
Arriving in wuhu, China, last July after a 17-hour flight from New York, Malcolm Bricklin was so juiced up, so shot through with adrenaline, that he couldn't sleep. All night, he paced back and forth in his hotel room, killing time before his meeting the next day with Yin Tongyao, president of the Chery Automobile Co., the eighth largest of the 120 carmakers in China. Since Chery's founding in 1997, Yin has made it known that his ultimate goal is to sell cars in the U.S. For Bricklin, the 66-year-old CEO of Visionary Vehicles and the man who introduced Americans to both the Subaru and the Yugo, the meeting represented a thrilling opportunity. It was also a source of agitation.
Meanwhile, the New Yorker published Car Town just a short while later. Interestingly, the introduction to the story parallels the Inc piece, but the story has a totally different tone.
On the way to Wuhu, I drove through Confucius’ home town. I also passed the Stone Warriors of Nanpi, the Iron Lion of Shijia, and the Alfalfa Land of Jinniu. The village of Jinxiang had posted a big sign, in English, above the highway: “The Best Garlic Is from Jinxiang in All of China.” Wuhu is a new car town. A local company had recently declared its intention to become the first Chinese automaker to export to the United States, and the American partners were scheduled to arrive on Sunday. On Friday, I had rented a Chinese-made Volkswagen Jetta and headed south to meet them. Two days, eight hundred miles: a road trip from Beijing to Wuhu.
I'm a big fan of blogs, as should be obvious. But when people say they're the only way to get a number of unique perspectives on an event, or to find different voices covering something that's going on, it's selling both blogs and other media short. It's probably no coincidence that the best of any medium reminds me of what I like so much about blogging, the ability to quickly dive into an interesting topic that I find serendipitously, while being guided by someone that's passionate and knowledgeable about the subject.