Here’s What You’re Not Reading

This evening I was reading one of the big-time outdoor magazines when I read an interesting letter to the editor.   The crux of the letter was chastising the magazine for having over 30 pages devoted to advertising space out of the total of 80 or so the magazine contained.

No doubt about it…magazines are driven by their advertisers.   A large part of the revenue stream comes in from these sources.   And certainly I don’t begrudge any publisher for selling ad space.   In fact, I only find ads in a magazine to be a minor annoyance.   Now ads on TV, on the other hand, that is quite another story.

But I don’t think most sportsman know the power these advertisers yield.   Rather, I’m quite sure the typical sportsman does not give much thought to this.

Case in point.   Yesterday I was speaking to another outdoor communicator who told me that for years he’s had a hobby of collecting yellow snow.   YELLOW SNOW??   You must be kidding, I first thought.   But no, he was dead serious.

While many sportsmen traipse into the woods during the upcoming weeks to search for shed antlers…this particular sportsman also looks for discolored snow that might indicate that a deer has recently urinated on it.

The process is quite simple…he takes a clean jar with him along with a small trowel.   When he finds some yellow snow he carefully scoops it into the jar.   Eventually, he takes all of the snow collected and distills it down to the most pure form…or so he thinks.   This particular writer claims that his deer urine concoction, when added to some glycerin and other lure additives is far better than ANY commercial attractant you can buy.   Why?   Well, because this lure comes from the real McCoy…not some synthesized substance pawned off as real.

But I digress here for a moment.   This blog is not about collecting natural deer lure.   No, quite the contrary.   It’s about the power of advertisers and why you have likely never read of this unique sportsman’s activity.   My acquaintance told me that he queried several editors who were fascinated by the concept and the idea…but they said it would not fly in their publication.   Why?

Well, maybe you can see where I’m going with this.   That’s right…a large base of most publications advertising budget comes from various lure manufacturers.   Why would any managing editor want to risk ruffling the feathers on these ad-buying clients by running an article that might encourage money out of their ad-buying customers pockets?   Many won’t…and that’s why you won’t see articles such as collecting yellow snow.   It purports a technique that opens up too many cans of worms in the publisher’s office.

But is this right?   What has happened to the ethics found in much of the outdoor media?   As a sportsman, don’t you want to read articles how one guy collects yellow snow to increase his hunting success without the concept being sanitized or rejected because it might upset some commercial interest?   I know I sure do.

I fear that as the outdoors seems to continue a move down the path of big money, print publications and television shows will become nothing more than glorified infomercials.   Thrown aside are the journalistic ethics that should hunger to showcase a good idea on its merits alone, and not based on whether or not it will irritate an advertiser who might lose a sale or two because of the ideas contained in the writing.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.