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Old 09-02-2012, 17:02   #46
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

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Originally Posted by Compass Rose View Post
The decline of traditional journalism and the growth in online media has pros and cons. There's an awful lot of crap on the internets, and the accuracy and reliability of information tends to decline when it's being churned out by bloggers and "citizen journalists" that aren't accountable to anyone. And usually, you get what you pay for.
Yes, the Internet is full of crap, but I do not agree that the best information is mediated through journalists. Within every domain there are experts who have blogs or some other self publishing stream, and they write with much more depth and understanding than anything available in the national media.

Whenever I read a journalists account of something within my narrow niche, an area that I know very well, it is almost always very far off. The author usually makes a fundamental mistake in understanding the issue or brings an odd and irrelevant perspective with them that they try to project the story through, resulting in something that cannot even be considered a gross oversimplification for the masses.

I think the world is now too complicated to continue with this idea of a "Journalist as a Renissance Man" who can swoop into any complicated body of knowledge, talk to a few random people without understanding the precision of the domain specific words or the overall framework of how knowledge is structured in that niche, and hack out a story that is factually incorrect and betrays a basic misunderstanding of the whole context.

Sorry, this reads as too abrupt. I do not mean to share these thoughts with such... spittle. I guess I need an editor to tone it down and frame the thought in a more neutral way.
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Old 09-02-2012, 17:18   #47
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

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Whenever I read a national journalists account of something within my narrow niche, an area that I know very well, it is almost always very far off.
Professional journalist, author, whatever you want to call me (just not to my face, please) here. Your statement above is true whenever you are your own expert in a field, but that is not where you need the trained journalist. Sadly, there are very few good journalists, and the ones that have jobs are even fewer. The journalist is not writing for the expert in most cases--he or she is writing for the average reader of whatever magazine or publication. The problem on the Internet is that many people portray themselves as very knowledgeable about something, when they are not, or they are an expert at their subject but they are not an expert in the use of words. The professional journalist doesn't pretend to be the expert, but instead interviews the expert or experts and transforms their words into something that the average reader can comprehend easily. I once edited a book by a very famous and expert racer. He had a world-class level of sailing skills, but he couldn't write clearly and often unintentionally wrote something that could be misinterpreted. The journalist (me) was there to turn his expert knowledge into something others could use. I am not defending the poor quality of magazines today. The thing they have lost sight of is that quality content is what sells magazines, gets viewers to your website, and brings in advertisers who want to be in such a venue. Sure, you can make a quick buck promoting some advertiser's products, but the readers know when they are being sold a bill of goods.

By the way, I should add that I often purchase a magazine off the rack when I see just one single article by someone I want to read. For example, if there is something by Nigel Calder, I want to read it, even if it is on a subject I am not particularly interested in. I always learn something. If magazines published more great stuff they would have more great readers and they would have more great advertisers.
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Old 09-02-2012, 20:31   #48
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

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The journalist is not writing for the expert in most cases--he or she is writing for the average reader of whatever magazine or publication.
Exactly right. The good journalist is able to research, digest and communicate to a target audience. That audience is almost never the "expert" level -- that's what journals and other specialized publications target. A journalist (at least the good ones) are able to convey the account/message/excitement/core issue while staying true to the story or subject.

Most experts will find flaws in the journalist's telling (and sometimes there are flaws), but a good journalist does what most experts cannot: communicate to people who are outside the expert's own world. As Kettlewell says, most experts (indeed, most people) are very poor writers/communicators. This is no surprise. The skills, training and aptitude to be a good brain surgeon, business manager, or sailboat designer, are not the same skills needed to be an effective orator or writer. (This gets back to David's turd analogy, and why it is often harder, and more expensive, to work with poor writers.)
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Old 10-02-2012, 04:00   #49
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

Just re-read the thread and have to say that (for me) all posts here have been very informative. Obviously I am already an expert on everything and for that I find it helpful to not always let simple matters like not knowing WTF I am talking about restrain me ......but nonetheless I do like to learn and even though I may talk a lot - I do also listen a lot.....I may not always agree!, but I do like to at least understand where people are coming from.

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I don't agree that the skill of a journalist is simply to polish turds. There's still a need for good reporting and writing, and always will be. The market just won't support as much of it as it used to, or in the same format.
Just to clarify that I was not saying that the skill of a journalist is simply to polish turds (and I agree that doing so regularly is not a commercial proposition). Nor was I saying that journalists do not have useful skills (and advantages over the non-proffessional writer).....it's just a matter of what could / would work commercially. If the competition is free then a business has to cope with that, either by dumbing down or by harnessing the same free resource.

Much the same that being a Weaver is still a highly skilled job (and used to be well paid) - but nowadays by using technology that job (for the mass market) has fundamentally changed - even if the output is fundamentally unchanged. Doesn't mean that the skills (and knowledge / experiance) of a Weaver is not still of use within the industry - just that can no longer compete head on (outside any speciality areas). Whether the original Weavers thought that a good thing or not is irrelevent (they didn't - unsurprisingly!).....it's just how the world / business became......you either deal with the new reality or you don't.

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The decline of traditional journalism and the growth in online media has pros and cons. There's an awful lot of crap on the internets, and the accuracy and reliability of information tends to decline when it's being churned out by bloggers and "citizen journalists" that aren't accountable to anyone. And usually, you get what you pay for.
That sounds like something Rupert Murdoch (etc) says . In many respects that argument is correct - but it's simply part of the new reality, that ain't going away anytime soon. For a business to survive it has to deal with reality (sooner or later) - as the Banking industry and Govts found out the hard way in recent times .

My take is that (online) is where a good Editor (Editorial Team) makes the primary difference between garbage (minority interests) and content that is good enough to attract and retain readers - and can be wrapped around making money. As true for boats as anything else - quality always sells.......the price acheived is another matter.

In regard to Bloggers and Citizen Journalists I think that really only affects the news gathering / reporting side of the media and is a different beast to Magazines. They are just one news source and if folk don't treat any one news source as gospel then will find likely that the truth will eventually out. I suspect that the real reason the traditional media (and especially the propriaters) disparage the online compitetion is that readers no longer treat the traditional output (and especially the opinions / slant ) as having been written on tablets of stone, and carried down the mountain to the grateful masses.....and also forgetting that if no one knows about something, it's not actually news!

I dunno about the US media, but over here the newspapers (Serious and Tabloid) are lame 99% of the time. I suspect most of the content comes from press releases (from Politicians and commercial / vested interests).....backed up by Google , with own slant added. The newspapers do also feature a lot of opinion pieces, which can be interesting (even if for the reason of "why am I being told this?") - but fundametally no different to an online blogger. Sometimes 2+2 = 4. sometimes 5....for a variety of reasons.

FWIW one of the papers I have enjoyed most was the Bangkok Post - not much by the way of investigative journalism (lots off limit over there - anything "good" was first in the local press, if at all) nor for the features / opinions (although as enjoyable / dull as any other paper) - but simply for the fact that most of the international news was cut and pasted from the Wire services (AP / Reuters) - not to say that these were always unslanted, but as close to unbiased news as one can get. Well written mind .

Although I am not a Blogger (too lazy!) I do have a website for my boat - and it's more about the Model than my own boat. The reason for "publishing" it online was partly to be helpful to others, partly because their was not much online back when I bought mine (only 140 built, and back in the 60's / ealry 70's) with a large proportion of the ownership now in the hands of older folks (the model is a "keeper" type boat) and therefore not so internet capable)......and partly out of self interest, if folks don't know what a Seadog 30 is, then that doesn't help her resale value (not to say I have any intention of ever selling - but yer never know). But "payment" was largely from the enjoyment, coupled with some positive feedback.

I mention it as a simple example of what a commercial publisher is competing against (not for Spam - I genuinely don't care if I don't have a squillion hits - and have no hit counter activated). The website was originally written 5 or 6 years back (and has recently moved over to Google Sites - Free and no Google Ads!, had a few tweeks and still a few more to do, when I can be bothered ). It has had positive feedback (back when the guestbook still worked / I had an e-mail listed - it's on the list ).....including from folk who then went on to buy one! (I guess those who decided against thanks to the Website don't get in contact ).

Since then one of the UK Sailing mags (Sailing Today) has written a s/h boat review of the Seadog 30.....and it's available online for free (unlike the bigger competition who still try to sell their boat reviews ). In some respects these information sources are competing against each other, but for the reader they simply complement each.....and nonetheless the commercial magazine still saw a useful way of wrapping an article around some advertising on paper - and online they still are.

In addition one of the UK Brokers maintains an online (free) archive of boats they have sold. The content is written by an "amatuer" - at the time of my own boat purchase it was the primary source of online info. The commercial value the Broker extracts from that archive is not in straight cash into pocket, but from getting known and also adding a face / credibility to the business - which may turn into a sale or a listing (and I would happily bet does). Certainly when I was buying if they'd had another Seadog 30 for sale then I would have been very happy to deal with them.

Now, I won't claim my Website is better (nor perfect, either in content or writing skill!) but IMO for a prospective owner it is more than good enough to be a useful source of info - and added value comes from the writer (me!) also being an owner.

Sailing Today Magazine - Seadog 30 Review

DOJ Seadog 30 website

Yachtsnet (UK Yacht Broker) - Seadog 30 Archive

Quote:
But as a previous poster pointed out, readers will accept a less polished product if there's a good story to tell. I think the most viable model at the moment combines the work of reporters/journalists with writing from contributors who aren't necessarily trained journalists - and that's okay. I think people want to see themselves reflected in the publications they read, so boating pubs should be a mix of voices and perspectives. Not every article has to be a shining example of great writing.
Personally I think that unpolished can add to a story for the reasons you state. But certainly not saying that a Magazine style publication has to be the equivalent of written in crayon by a dyslexic . The Editor's role may involve some Turd Polishing (that seems to be a popular phrase in this thread ), but the important part of his job is to get onboard people who don't require much / any of that (either naturally or can have the skill to do so beaten in to them ).



Quote:
I don't know about journalists having an inflated sense of self-worth. It's a skilled profession, just like, say, a shipwright or an electrician. Good journalists have typically studied journalism and invested time and effort into honing their skills. People who don't work in journalism often don't realize what that entails or the challenges involved in doing the job well.
I was probably more talking about the news media than folks putting together Magazines. Not saying journalism is not a skilled job, but just like an electrician or shipwright have to deal with a changing marketplace.

Anyway, another long ramble from DOJ - that is barely on CF topic .....oddly enough I do have better things to do!....for a start, I am finally getting around to writing to Angela Merkel to explain how to fix the Eurozone Debt Crisis and end the European Recession......inside a week - and to do all that whilst making a profit ....my motivation / payment is from self interest (the downturn is affecting my pocket ) but also from the simple fact that I am getting bored of hearing the subject in the news.....plus it would annoy the Americans .

Of course I accept that Mrs Merkel is unlikely to ever read my proposal, let alone implement it (unless she be a member of CF?!) - but at least when we all later go off the cliff together, I can have the satisfaction of writing another letter saying "I told you so" .
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Old 10-02-2012, 04:39   #50
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This is becoming a 'Sailing Magazine'.....
over analysis of a simple subject
yet totally lacking in substance...
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Old 10-02-2012, 04:44   #51
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

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This is becoming a 'Sailing Magazine'.....
over analysis of a simple subject
yet totally lacking in substance...
LOL!

Mea culpa
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:54   #52
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
This is becoming a 'Sailing Magazine'.....
over analysis of a simple subject
yet totally lacking in substance...
No, its far too interesting to be a magazine article and it has more than one side although there are still those adverts floating around.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:29   #53
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

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Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
I dunno about the US media, but over here the newspapers (Serious and Tabloid) are lame 99% of the time. I suspect most of the content comes from press releases (from Politicians and commercial / vested interests).....backed up by Google , with own slant added. The newspapers do also feature a lot of opinion pieces, which can be interesting (even if for the reason of "why am I being told this?") - but fundametally no different to an online blogger. Sometimes 2+2 = 4. sometimes 5....for a variety of reasons.
This is exactly my idea of US print media, that the information in it is not the content but the meta content-- "Why is this being presented as news?" "Who's interests benefit from the specific packaging of this story?"

I subscribe to the self proclaimed "paper of record" here in the US, mostly because my wife likes the playful pseudo intellectual voice that The Arts section is written in, and she does the crossword puzzles, but I feel.. the journalists are either very credulous or naive, or maybe a bit unsophisticated and too star struck by the rich and powerful, or a conscious cog in a machine that is trying to write the 'national dialog'.

While I agree with the Platonic ideal that the journalists define their profession with and aspire to, in practice I just do not see it. What I see, at least in our national 'paper of record', is authors who are either too easily manipulated by people who are far above their intellectual weight class, or authors who perhaps willfully play the fool for 'access'.

I really believe they should try a bit harder, but sometimes wonder if this is a failure in liberal arts education. Especially in the Ivy League, where impressionable young minds are told over and over again that they are the best and brightest, and then taught that the most important part of thought is the presentation: that being thoughtful or intelligent is to package ideas into neat little self consistent packets. At best, it is merely an education in the mechanics of presentation. Maybe this is the best that can be done with a random sample of entitled children, but I feel this sets the bar much too low for people who will later anoint themselves thought leaders, who then go on in life to vomit up beautiful little packets without pushing themselves to wade a bit deeper into the pool, and perhaps, not even realizing that there are deeper waters.

I don't know, we are all just human, and maybe my expectations are much too high, but.. I feel it is a bit tragic that the individuals whose voices have the most reach are not ... better at what they do.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:07   #54
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

Does anyone remember "The Skipper" magazine? Imagine an e-mag Skipper with "still photos that move," video clips, bells and shackles. There is good writing around, readers abound, and perhaps most importantly - editors who can take a ragged stack of type and turn it into a story.

I'd subscribe.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:43   #55
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

I sounds as though there is a need for a good online magazine with genuine stories from sailors, good photographs and an unbiased view which is not tainted by how much the advertisers are willing to pay.
I am aware of opinions in the UK being exactly the same and of people wanting to do something about it.
The thread in England is below. The magazine bods were just not interested in listening to anything put to them
http://www.ybw.com/forums/showthread.php?t=302779
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:01   #56
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

Started getting Small Craft Advisor years ago, and still am despite not having an exactly small craft anymore. Good articles about real sailing and cruising in beautiful places, about boat building, and a column by Dylan Winters. What more could you want?

It's vastly preferable to the glossy mags reviewing 50ft Beneteaus.
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:55   #57
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

Haven't bought a sailing mag for years but the last ones I subscribe to were Passage Maker, Practical Sailor and Cruising World. Now my kids give subscriptions for Christmas which makes it easy on them and fun for me to read with my bi-focals. Capt Phil
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Old 10-02-2012, 13:29   #58
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

Kettlewell, Mike and David Old Jersey, you all make some great points. Kettlewell hit the nail on the head - journalists are often expected to write about areas outside of their expertise (unless they're beat reporters who have covered a particular topic for a long time and developed some expertise, which is becoming rarer and rarer) and write for a general audience. Then there are experts who are knowledgable but have difficulty communicating their expertise in writing. I think that's definitely a problem with the quality of some boating publications - the people running them are boaters, not editors/journalists.
Full disclosure: I run Three Sheets Northwest, a daily news site covering recreational boating in the Pacific Northwest. My husband and I previously worked as newspaper reporters for around 15 years, so we've been on both sides - traditional print media and online media. We saw the way the industry was going, and we both left the newspaper world about six years ago. We understood that traditional media has two options: change or die.
So now we're negotiating a whole world with very different challenges and opportunities. It's been a wild and fascinating ride.
I could discuss this topic endlessly but have to go get some work done - namely, a story based on an interview with Nigel Calder!
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Old 10-02-2012, 13:44   #59
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

P.S. Our model is similar to what Nostradamus describes - an online magazine with stories from real sailors, combined with traditional journalism and a network of bloggers blogging about various aspects of boating in the Northwest. We have a mix of voices on the site and I think that really adds to its value. One of our goals in starting the site was to establish an online community where boaters could see different perspectives, voices and expertise reflected. Today, for example, we have a story written by a Coast Guard Auxiliary Chief of Staff about the dangers of boats sinking at the dock. His expertise and knowledge is something we couldn't provide. Other bloggers and contributors write about local maritime history, Northwest boating destinations, DIY projects, living aboard, etc. Having their perspectives on the site is invaluable.
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Old 10-02-2012, 14:11   #60
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Re: Sailing Magazine Content !

[QUOTE=Nostrodamus;883910]I sounds as though there is a need for a good online magazine with genuine stories from sailors, good photographs and an unbiased view which is not tainted by how much the advertisers are willing to pay.


Yes! But...is that how the world works? If we were in a 'Star Trek' world where money had no purpose....maybe. What gets me is that all the 'advertisers' (and I am speaking mainly of the boat manufactures) put all this money into ad space in a magazine...and really...if ya had the $500k to spend on a boat, you are probably not relying on the pretty picture in a magazine. For about anyone in the 99% (that is a large market....btw) 500K is going to be quite a hefty investment.

And I also agree...all the over 'anal'izing the boat magazines tend to do...probably drives more people away from the cruising lifestyle. If there is one sailor out there that said they learned how to sail from a book (or magazine) then don't ask me to sail with ya! The wind and water talks to the boat, the boat talks to the skipper....all the skipper has to do is listen to what the boat needs! Quite Zen....
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