Category Archives: Dirt Rag

Are we not journalists? Part 2

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).

http://www.churchoftherotatingmass.com/2014/01/07/are-we-not-journalists/

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.

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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!

 

 

 

Are we not journalists? Part 1

As some of you may already know, I publish a couple of magazines* about bicycles, Dirt Rag for 25 years now, and Bicycle Times for five . Publish, yes. While I oversee editorial content for both magazines, I mostly chase dollars to keep these ‘zines afloat and food on the table for our now-large staff.

Other staff people are editors, they work real hard to create “Content” to be delivered to our loyal readers. Honest, true, hands-on. Journalism.

Our loyal readers trust us to keep the editorial “Church” and the advertising “State” separate. Journalists on one side, “Ad Slime” on the other. It’s a fine line we have been walking for 25 years now.

 

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But look what I have to deal with now. I have always suspected that there was some kind of “Pay-to-play” thing at some of the other titles, I still found myself flabbergasted when I saw this email from a potential ad client:

“We would really love to work with Dirt Rag, and look forward to doing so in the future, but for now I am going to pass.

My resources are limited and I need to ensure our brand gets the most possible editorial coverage as possible. I understand and respect that you can’t guarantee this, but all the other publications we are working with have been able to guarantee at least quarterly editorial, and have included it in the insertion orders.”

Soooo what the fuck. Guess I am putting this out there for two reasons. One is to share with anyone who reads this blog what I have to deal with on a regular basis. The other is to assure everyone that no, we do not sell editorial.

In fact the current Dirt Rag cover features a company that has politely turned us down for ads this year. While we have better relationships with some companies than others, the editor decides what is going in the magazine based on journalistic integrity.

Thanks for listening, I feel better now. All I can ask is that if you read my magazines you support our advertising and promotional supporters! Thankfully they get it.

 

*Or should I say “Media entities” as we have print, digital and web covered.