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The Death Spiral of Hunting Magazines...
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I have stacks of old hunting and fishing magazines. In addition to the obvious thinner nature of today's publication, something we see today that didn't exist years ago is the PR hunt. A PR hunt is something setup by a PR firm to showcase outdoor goods to writers. If you look at almost any story today, it is typically sponsored by an industry supplier. The result is a pretty unremarkable story that invariably profiles the wares of the host company, typically using a sidebar.

If you can get a copy of Field and Stream from the 70s, you will note a lot more DIY hunts.

Does this format have anything to do with the drop in subscribers, or is the issue something else, like the internet?


Don't Ever Book a Hunt with Jeff Blair
http://forums.accuratereloadin...821061151#2821061151

 
Posts: 7435 | Location: Arizona and off grid in CO | Registered: 28 July 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Jack O'Connor was the early pioneer in sponging hunts off of outfitters who would trade for the ink.
 
Posts: 23062 | Location: SW Idaho | Registered: 19 December 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't know if this is as new as it is becoming more obvious. Quite frankly, I think it has more to do with people's innate greed and the fact that there are more and more outlets for writing, and more writers hoping to make the "big bucks."

Take O'Connor. JOC was a tremendously talented writer who really enjoyed the outdoors. He probably could have gotten a job writing most anywhere back in the day, but as he was able to subtly place people and products in his stories all the while writing a story that people wanted to read, he developed a almost cult like following both in the industry and with the public. If you look back at his writing, he plugged various gunsmiths, various guides, some bullet companies, certain areas, and various proprietary cartridges at the time. I'm sure that people asked his publisher to send him to this great new place and hunt, and he was assigned a story, or maybe even more directly, like they do now. As I recall, many of his sheep hunts somewhere commented on Vernon Speer being with him, etc. O'Connor was able, due to skill, to make it seem like a story where Speer happened to be there, rather than the current "Speer Co. brought me out to hunt sheep with their latest new Deepcurl Bullet loaded into my wonderful new TC Icon rifle with the latest Leupold 6X scope while wearing my latest mossy oak camo...."

In those days, people read, and thought about it, and really made their displeasure known if they thought someone was snowing them. I suspect that Jack O'Connor went on many trips that he could not say something nice about, and that person either was not mentioned or the story told the truth in some way as to make it entertaining nevertheless. He was able to do this as he had a solid base, and folks were not going to get someone with his stature with the public to write for them if he told someone they were all wet.

Now days, there are so many writers (and magazines) out there (and wanna be TV stars, for that matter...) that if one managed to annoy a sponsor they would get "no longer welcome" notes from the manufacturers and the manufacturer would not deal with that publication anymore. So the magazines/shows are more loyal to their sponsors, the authors are increasingly reluctant to say anything bad about a sponsor, and the audience is becoming less willing to put up with a publication that does not deliver what they want to see.

This has resulted in the sponsor having much more say in what the publication does, and in the absence of a solid popular reputation for the author (which with the internet is now much harder to get, given the pot shots taken at them and in my opinion, the damage that the popular culture has done to the status of a "role model" making these people look like folks like the rest of us) no one can stand up to a corporate ad campaign and shout that the emperor has no clothes in the industry.

It's become a vicious cycle in that the mags are doing poorly because we don't want to read the ad campaign that they are forced to run because we won't buy their ad material.
 
Posts: 7122 | Location: Minnesota USA | Registered: 15 June 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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A subscription today only helps to pay the postage and the stories are not interesting.
 
Posts: 1096 | Location: UNITED STATES of AMERTCA | Registered: 29 June 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well said Butler.



Doug Humbarger
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Try to look unimportant. Your enemy might be low on ammo.
 
Posts: 8244 | Location: Jennings Louisiana, Arkansas by way of Alabama by way of South Carloina by way of County Antrim Irland by way of Lanarkshire Scotland. | Registered: 02 November 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I would agree on JOC as I was never a big fan of his, however, the New Sports Afield has been a breath of fresh air in the hunting magazine business. Diana Rupp and staff have done a lot to put journalism back into writing. Peterson's Hunting, NRA American Hunter, Outdoor Life and the SCI magazines run a distant second. Gray's Sporting Journal is very good but has gotten a little too "ethereal" for me. Too many made up stories to believe the writers.

Anyway, I agree with the comments above.

Same goes for hunting TV shows. Put that is another thread.
 
Posts: 9278 | Location: Texas... time to secede!! | Registered: 12 February 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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AS a kid Mom and Dad got me a subscription to Sports Afield and Outdoor Life for a couple of years.
I could not work up much interest and opted for shooting mags.

Jim


"Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force." --Thomas Jefferson

 
Posts: 6046 | Location: Richmond, Virginia | Registered: 17 September 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My guess...

with the advent of the Internet, and no-BS forums like this, too many of us are aware of the "deals" taking place. I think without Ruger, Trijicon, and DSC; Ivan Carter might be selling tupperware for a living.

I flip TAA on occasionally for a minute or so, and expect to see him in a jumpsuit like the NASCAR drivers wear.

In a nutshell, "we know better..."
 
Posts: 23062 | Location: SW Idaho | Registered: 19 December 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I too had stacks of Field & Stream & Sports Afield from bygone days. As tuition costs hit me some changes had to be made - the subscriptions were cut loose.

But for myself I found the articles in the magazines were repeated about every two years; the location would change (elk hunting in the west, boar hunting, whitetail hunting in the Midwest, etc.), the hunters would change but the articles were the same to the point of becoming ho-hum.

The advertising was THE SAME ISSUE TO ISSUE; every now and then a new truly innovative product came along (couldn't wait to get my hands on Bitteroot (sp) Bonded Core bullets.

Then along came the expanded coverage of all sports on TV followed by the internet. Why get a subscription when you can get more entertainment on the internet? In these fast days people love brevity - reading a full story with as an example Part 1 in this month's edition followed by Parts 2, 3 & 4 in subsequent issues is dead. The writers such as Boddington are limited.

As far as products there was an explosion (no pun intended) of shooting components; bullets, powders, primers (remember the days of treating primers with surgical room cleanliness), optics.
These new items can be reviewed quickly on the net and mostly with unbiased presentation.
 
Posts: 209 | Registered: 20 December 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm letting most, if not all, of my subscriptions expire. Reading the same old stuff from the same old writers.......
I know one gun writer, personally, that gave a rifle glowing reports after taking it to the range and not have it be even close to the manufacturer's claims of accuracy. What was supposed to be a MOA rifle turned out to be a 3MOA rifle with anything we put through it. He just neglected to mention that little fact in his article. I don't think it's right because there are a lot of people that put stock in what some of these guys say. They'll rush out and buy one if so and so says it is a great deal only to be unhappy with their purchase. Too much advertising (and I know that's how they are able to make ends meet) and too little meat in the issues that are now coming out.
 
Posts: 4214 | Location: Southern Colorado | Registered: 09 October 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Magazines in the 1950s were aimed at the readers (hunters) of the day to sell advertising. Today the magazines and now TV are aimed the same. It's always been a form of advertising and as such it tends to very accurately define who the buying public is. If you are disgusted with the current crop of hook and bullet magazines or TV shows, what you mean to say is: "I am disgusted by the current crop of American hunters and fishermen".

Don't blame the magazines and TV shows. They are in the business of making money. If you or I were the majority of hunters in America, then we would like the mags and shows because they would be made for us.
 
Posts: 1836 | Registered: 16 January 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by dogcat:
the New Sports Afield has been a breath of fresh air in the hunting magazine business. Diana Rupp and staff have done a lot to put journalism back into writing.


I agree about Rupp, she is a unique personality in the magazine industry. She covers some interesting "off the beaten path" topics. I think that Ludo Wurfbain also deserves kudos for his part in putting out the only hunting magazine that really stands out.

A few years ago I was at the SCI show in Reno and decided to stop by Sports Afield's booth to renew my subscription. A woman shook my hand and said, "Hi, I'm Diana." I realized who she was and said, "Oh, Diana Rupp, the editor." She asked me about my thoughts on the magazine and took down all my information for the renewal.

I still wonder how many editors would have been taking subscriptions and chatting with subscribers instead of marching the floor trying to make connections with all the big-wigs.


Jason

"You're not hard-core, unless you live hard-core."
_______________________

Hunting in Africa is an adventure. The number of variables involved preclude the possibility of a perfect hunt. Some problems will arise. How you decide to handle them will determine how much you enjoy your hunt.

Just tell yourself, "it's all part of the adventure." Remember, if Robert Ruark had gotten upset every time problems with Harry
Selby's flat bed truck delayed the safari, Horn of the Hunter would have read like an indictment of Selby. But Ruark rolled with the punches, poured some gin, and enjoyed the adventure.

-Jason Brown
 
Posts: 5909 | Location: Nome, Alaska(formerly SW Wyoming) | Registered: 22 December 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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the younger generation is not into hunting as we were.

I thought I had raised one nephew to enjoy the shooting sports over video games.

His father died and left him a nice collection of firearms. He is selling them off to accessorize his Dodge Hemi half-ton. I wonder where his father and I went wrong...
 
Posts: 23062 | Location: SW Idaho | Registered: 19 December 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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When I started out in the 1950's all we had were magazines and what we talked about at the club's matches.

We had life subscriptions to the American Rifleman and later the A. Hunter. I read Outdoor Life, Field & Stream and Sports Afield.

It's the internet and the forums that have killed off magazines. I used to also get "Rifle", Handloader, Cruising World (sailing) etc.

Now I hardly read the Rifleman and American Hunter that still come with our memberships.

I looked over there and an American Hunter was unread. I opened the contents page and could see I had not read a page of the mag. I threw it back down and am finishing this post.

The articles are the same old stuff from 50 years ago. They are still arguing over the 270 LOL.

Then I will read another internet forum post!


Get the 'power' or optic that your eye likes instead of what someone else says.

When we go to the doctor they ask us what lens we like!

Do that with your optics.
 
Posts: 980 | Registered: 16 July 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sports Afield, Shooting Sportsman. Beyond those, not so much.

Still enjoy Barsness, though. Great fan of Ms. Rapp.
 
Posts: 490 | Location: middle tennessee | Registered: 11 November 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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