One reason I keep doing this magazine-publishing thing year after year is my belief in putting more people on bikes. And my belief that the industry and the cycling media work together to get more people on bikes. The advertisements that support our magazines not only tell readers about their stuff, but support the journalism that should take place. At Bicycle Times and Dirt Rag we strive for that.
But today my soul is weary. Much like in the more serious and important global political discourse happening in God-Blessed America and the world right now, the bike journalism field is following a steeper and steeper fall-line trail downhill. Pay to play. Where rather than conveying honest, objective opinions, so-call journalists write what corporations pay them to write.
Read on. (But please read part 1 first if you have not, thank you).
Recently, in what is now the 2015 ad contract season, I inadvertently received an email containing a proposal from one of the top mountain bike websites in the world to the marketing department at a parts and accessories and clothing branch of one of the largest bike companies in the world.
Not only did the proposal include the usual “Cost-per-eyeball-per-thousand’ for the site, but it included a specific amount of editorial coverage for 2015. Leaving my heart heavy, especially since the “Client” in question had gotten tons of editorial love from us over the years, yet had never thrown down to support us with an advertising buy.
This left me questioning. Should I send an invoice to the company that’s getting all the free editorial coverage while not throwing us a dime for advertising support?
Or should we stop covering their products in our magazines as a tit-for-tat response? It’s an option I am considering, but one that I feel would break the journalistic code to tell our readers about stuff they will find interesting.
Does anyone else give a shit about where this is going? It’s looking unlikely. Most of the bike media and the corporate world are playing in the sandbox just fine. They both make money, and you, dear reader know, it is all about following the money.
So look around, do your homework. Take everything with a grain-o-salt. Value and respect real journalism when you read it. And support our advertisers! They get it!