Friday, July 21, 2006

Tullis, Trout Underground and the blogs

As I blogged previously, the discussion regarding the dead tree fly fishing media and the pixil killing fly fishing blogs continues, both at the Fly Fisherman site and in my comments section, and while there have been both insightful comments and some moronic spit jabbering, the most enlightening comment comes from Tom over at the fab Trout Underground.
Money Quote:

I get better than 10,000 visits per month; I've got an audience, I get lots of great feedback, and I do it when and how I want.

No editors asking me for something about the latest nymphing techniques. No marketing. No worrying about what's "saleable" and what's not. No ridiculous $350 payments. Lots of pictures.

It's fun. And frankly, it's the best reflection of my passion for the sport I can imagine.

And it comes complete with a real, live community of readers who respond to my posts with thoughts of their own, something I simply wouldn't get from publishing a book.

Face it, magazines are paying next to nothing because they can. A lot of editorial work is being written for next to nothing by wannabes and those looking to make a name for themselves. That's OK, but the quality is nothing to write home about. And the range of subject matter is positively claustrophobic.

There are options for people who write. Some of us are availing ourselves of them. Doesn't mean paper publishing is dead, but like anything else, it needs to find its way in an era when how we gather and read information is changing.

Damn! 10,000 readers a month?!! Starting TODAY, we quit the slacking at AHW....


Blogger Pete said...

As a magazine editor who sometimes writes freelance fishing articles for a pittance, who's on the verge of signing a book contract, and who blogs for the hell of it, I'm kind of in tune with this from all angles.

The original Larry Tullis post you linked to sounds a little pompous to begin with, especially the comparison to getting medical advice from a doctor or an eager amateur. That's true , but when it comes to fishing, I don't know of a single fishing "expert" who went through seven years of schooling and residency, passed grueling tests to obtain a fishing license and is held to high ethical standards by the fishing review boards. I'll take fishing advice from whoever happens to be catching more fish standing next to me in the stream.

And here's the problem I have with most fishing books, particularly the how-tos...they don't tell you anything! I have a stack of fishing books I've bought or been given as gifts that all say the same basic things, along the lines of "Montauk is famous for its fall run. For fantastic striper fishing action, go there in October." Thanks for that. Whereas now I can Google "Montauk fall striper run" and get instant advice with a lot more specifics, or join a forum and get concrete info from a slew of local anglers.

Regarding Tom's post, I've been there...getting paid as little as $75 for a fly fishing article with photos won't exactly keep the good times rolling. To address his statement about most fishing magazines "paying next to nothing because they can," I would sort of disagree. Most fly fishing magazines pay next to nothing because it is all they can afford. Fly Fisherman is probably the biggest one, with a paid circ of 124,000 or so. But most have five-figure circulations that cannot justify the ad rates to allow for a big editorial budget. Saltwater Fly Fishing , for example, has a 20,000 reader circ. American Angler has a 63,000 circ. (This is all public knowledge.) That's what the market is for fly fishing ain't huge. So for Tullis or anyone to think there's gold in it is misguided to begin with. Nobody's paying "New Yorker" money for fly fishing writing.

So where do blogs fit in all this? Just as they do with politicis, blogs represent a democratization of fishing information. A guy like me, who's an enthusiast but by no means an "expert" (still waiting for that fly-fishing doctoral program to spring up somewhere), can post my insights and discoveries, share articles and links I like, and basically do whatever the hell I want. If people want to read it, great. And if a blogger can draw enough visitors to his site to make money from it, more power to him. He shouldn't be the least bit concerned that what he's doing might be affecting someone else's book or magazine sales. Not his problem.

Expert or not, it doesn't matter. In lieu of asking the guy slaying 'em next to you what's working, you can read his blog.
--Pete, Fishing Jones

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, how's the devotion to non-slack goin' thus far?

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Tom Chandler said...

Nice post, Pete. I agree with much of it, but wanted to add an item or two. First, my original post on the Fly Fisherman board was largely an exercise in self control. The ranting begins here.

I admit to snorting water out my nose when Tullis suggested we subscribe to magazines in order to support the "pro" outdoor writer.

I subscribe to one of the larger fly fishing magazines because they support a pair of excellent writers. I don't subscribe to another because they repeatedly publish articles from wannabes; including a writer who - if you check his own elaborate Web site - rarely fishes.

His article on winter fishing clearly supports an "Internet Expert" diagnosis, and yet his articles still appear - an amusing reversal of Larry Tullis' point about getting advice from pros instead of amateurs.

Fly fishing magazines are jammed with "content" that repeats the same worn out advice, passes down the same "rules of thumb" (wrong as often as they're right), and glorifies the "kiss and tell" concept, where a local "pro" sells out a pretty little stream for his Judas' pittance.

I'm suggesting the major magazines are largely vehicles of self-promotion for writers, guides, equipment manufacturers and destinations. We're expected to pay for that?

Blogs may turn out to be no better - and there's not a ton of original content appearing there either - but given the low cost of entry, I (like Pete) consider them a democratizing force in the industry.

Someone could start a gear blog and actually say snarky things about bad gear (which won't happen in a magazine). You get the point.

Love the topic. Thanks for the chance to rant. TC

p.s. -- About editorial budgets and circulation; my regional fly fishing magazine (California Fly Fisher) actually pays more than the national mags. Odd.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Pete said...

This is a great topic, because a lot of the traditional media has been slow on the uptake as to what blogs and providers of informal web based content actually are.
Traditional media types are used to controlling how information is disseminated, and with the proliferation of blogs and other "independent" outlets, that control is no longer possible.
Plus, the best blogs do not consist of proclamations from on high, but are actual discussions, with room for debate and conversation between the blogger and his readers. (Which reminds me, I've got to turn back on my comments, "Nigerian bank account transfer of moneys" comments be damned.)
Fishing Jones

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Anonymous Wade said...

Thee Trouthole, Pete, and Tom just gave me a lot more reason for creating and keeping up my modest blog. I am by no means an expert, but I'm sworn to share from honest experience instead of reporting what the "corporate outdoors" wants to report. [[clap clap clap]] Thanks guys. I'm going to add you to my list of recommended sites and visit often to learn the ways of blogification.

7:42 PM  

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