Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
August 19, 2014

Back in the May issue I opened my first column for Mustang Monthly with a comment stating that this was the hardest editorial column I've ever had to write. At the time I thought so, but now I'd be lying if I didn't say that this issue's column is indeed the hardest one I've ever had to write. Why? Well, not only is it my last editorial column for Mustang Monthly, it will also most likely be my final written piece of an automotive journalism career that has spanned over two decades. Source Interlink Media has recently rebranded itself “TEN,” which stands for The Enthusiast Network. This rebranding included the merging of our sister Ford/Mustang title Modified Mustangs & Fords with Mustang Monthly.

Over the course of 22 years in the magazine and media industry I've seen a lot of change. When I started at Dobbs Publishing Group in 1992 we utilized black and white prints, cropping the image and making production notes with a china marker. Paste-up boards were the norm and every week we received dozens of letters with event listings, technical questions, and of course new product releases from parts manufacturers. Today's media industry is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Emails have replaced printed letters, and digital imagery has replaced the dark room and black and white prints. Programs like Photoshop make all of our images better and desktop publishing software means no more paste-up boards, column line tape, or typesetting machines.

These changes, like any industry, often mean a better product due to increased production efficiencies; however in the media world things are much different. In this day and age of digital access it is tougher to sell a printed magazine on a newsstand at Wal-Mart or a grocery store. Let's face it, I'm writing this in early June and you won't be reading it until the first week of August at the earliest. That certainly makes it tough to write about time-sensitive material such as event coverage, contests, and the like. However, our new mustang-360.com website has really helped us with getting such materials in front of readers much more quickly. We've produced same-day coverage of major events, such as the Mustang 50th celebrations and most event coverage is posted within a week of the event now.

The very first issue of Mustang Monthly I wrote a tech story for; the Apr. '92 issue.

With that said, I feel print media is far from dead. We have a diehard core audience of readers who want to feel the paper between their fingers and be able to pick up or put down their copy of Mustang Monthly as needed and not have to swipe a tablet screen to get back to the story they were reading. I feel Mustang Monthly has done an admirable job over the years with a limited budget and staff of printing the best Mustang magazine for ALL years of Mustangs on the newsstand. Furthermore, we've really pushed new media, such as social media, our mustang-360.com website, and more of late, making great strides there as well. So no matter if you prefer print or digital you'll find your preferred reading method and content right here.

I've enjoyed bringing our readers such great Mustang content over the years. From event coverage to literally thousands of technical projects, building project cars, and being involved in the Mustang's continuing history, it is a career I will deeply miss, but will hold many great memories. Memories like meeting Carroll Shelby, Jack Roush, Larry Shinoda, and countless other Mustang superstars. Driving the '08 GT500KR with SVT engineers on track, spending the weekend with a Ford GT supercar (I put nearly 300 miles on that one!), and taking in the sights and sounds of so many SEMA, PRI, and other trade shows/events that I have a box crammed full of show and VIP badges from the last 20 years.

To close out my final column I want to thank all the Mustang owners I've met throughout the years. Getting out and meeting as many of you as possible, listening to your stories, and chatting about Mustangs was one of my favorite aspects of the job. To those who supported me throughout the years I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please continue to support Mustang Monthly. All the best…