I’m my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone to far, the classic song by the Bungles (Here’s the a link to the track live at a princes trust gig). But in the modern idiom has the internet killed the fanzine, and more specifically has UKClimbing.com destroyed the climbing magazine or has commercialisation done it for us?
Essentially a few years ago magazines were portals for us mere mortals to see what the leaders in the field of climbing were up to. The two month lag time between getting the news in, laying out the magazine on the desktop, printing it and then the distribution did not seem to matter, as unless you had actually been there or knew the person it was still news.
Unfortunately for magazines web 2.0 (or is it 2.1 or 3.0 now?) means that often before the ascentionist has manage to settle themselves after a climb, their publicist has already uploaded a blog entry, contacted their sponsors, who have given the route a grade and the necessary spin and of course phoned Mick Ryan or Jack Geldard for a scoop on UKClimbing.
I for one have no problem with any of that, provided there is some honesty and integrity over the climbing. I also don’t want to debate the pro’s or con’s of that type of media or grade chasing now, instead I want to look at where does it leave the print media?
At present and particularly in recent months CLIMB magazine has been James Pearson quarterly, which is great for James I hope he has a nice fat photo incentive deal or retainer from TNF, there are too few climbers making a proper living from our sport. The problem is that UKC run the same picture and pretty much the same story online the day after it happens, so there is absolutely no chance a magazine beating that turn around time. However UKC don’t pay photographers, so I suspect that Dave Simmonite has some form of return from TNF, and he won’t be the only photographer to have that relationship with a manufacturer.
The type of photo space he then gets in a magazine is what can only describe as blanket coverage in TNF/James Pearson Quarterly. I appreciate that James ascents have been ‘ground break’, ‘last great problems’,'the cutting edge’, but there comes a point where one amazing photo might capture the ascent, maybe a couple of extras to make the point, but I lost counts at 8 photos of the route Walk of Life (link to this cheesy tune here).
Not to mention Dave Simmonite’s a photographer’s view of the ascent (including the make, model, size and catalogue number of the cams needed), James view, and some arbutary editorial. Surely we’ll be able to watch the edited video highlights online before too long!
My point is if all climbing print media offer is a rehash of the old news and old photos as the cover shot and main story why do people still by them. If you want to see a million shots of James on what looks like an awesome route, well an E8 he straighten up and taken all the pegs out of, then CLIMB magazine is for you.
The other problem print media faces is the dreaded hyperlink, one click and you taken striaght to where advertisers want you to be, looking at there gear, linked to more links, and as you keep clicking you get further and further into oblivion, until no number of clicks on the back button would bring you to where you started, quite literally lost in a web of advertising. Just what the marketeers want, and on top of that they can actually count how effect there advertising is. For a full lesson contact Mick at UKC, and tell your thinking of advertising with them but ask him what the benefits will be!
I am sure Neil and Gill at CLIMB magazine will put this down to me being bitter, unfortunately, I am not I just can’t see a way forward, for them with their current model, but I don’t see the sales figures, perhaps the TNF/JP editions of CLIMB sell more, in which case they are more than likely to be sat in CLIMB tower’s laughing at my rants deleting my photos from there hard drive. Unfortunately I believe all climbing magazine need to change away from providers of news, and into providers of decent information. Mini-guides to areas, and not just a list of route descriptions and photos. Articles that you could actually take to a crag and use as a guide.
Trail Magazine (I actually spit when I say those two words together) basically provide maps of an area so people can actually walk there recommended routes, and do you know what it works. I once got ask to guide a route that had been in the magazine on Cadar Idris. There was normally no one on the route but that weekend, a few weeks after trail had come out there were ten teams on the scramble.
Don’t get me wrong CLIMB has some great features, in particular Dave Binney’s coaching column. On the other hand Climber Magazine has some appalling columns in particular John Arrans Alps and Beyond, which basically has just become John and Ann’s Big Wall climbs in the Jungle pages. If you want news from the Alps and Beyond you need to read Lindsay Griffins pages in CLIMB, because at least he is passionate and knowledgable about the subject.
I have probably said too much, bitten the hands that feed me, burned too many bridged and pissed on my own doorstep once too often for now. So I will stop, well at least for now.