Seen the press release for the new skiing magazine? “The Ski Journal” is due to launch in January. Sounds like it’s an attempt to use paper print media for one of the few things that now differentiate it from the web, that is, displaying graphics in stunning high quality. According to the PR and website, the rag will feature the “highest quality paper, printing and design in the industry…the worldâ€™s highest quality ski publication.” I can see the possibility of the former, but WildSnow.com already has dibs on the latter (smile).
Seriously though, this gets me thinking about what’s been going on in the publishing industry for quite some time now. The web took nearly everyone by surprise. At first most publishers viewed the Internet as a gimmick that could never compete with a pub you could “carry around and read anywhere.” Boy were they wrong. Ink and paper publishers have been struggling for nearly a decade to figure out where their tree based products fit into the electronic mix that takes ever more of their advertising dollars and readers, and behind the scene it hasn’t been pretty.
One print publisher recently told me that “basically, the web is taking away my means of making a living.”
Fact is, web can provide nearly anything a magazine does — and do it better — and faster — and cheaper. That’s why WildSnow.com and other skiing websites have readers and sell advertising, and are doing quite well at it thank-you-very-much.
But the web can’t provide high quality art that has the look and feel of ink on paper. More, the nature of editorial web publishing is speed speed speed — frequently at the expense of quality (mea culpa). Thus, printed media can still provide two things: Stunning artwork, along with carefully edited and fact checked copy that’s intended to stand the test of time (since mistakes can’t be corrected once the publication is distributed.)
Is your printed pub providing these two things? If not R.I.P.
Back to the “Skiing Journal.” It’s interesting to look at the masthead list in the PR. Now defunct Freeze Magazine staff Mark Epstein is the editorial director. Will his experience with a failed magazine come in handy? I’ll bet it will. Something didn’t work with Freeze, so perhaps those lessons will be of use. (Ergo, open question is if Liftie of the Month helped the Freeze bottom line — or caused it’s demise. )
Skiing Journal photo editor is Grant Gunderson, a top young photographer (according to the PR) and prolific web forum denizen who posts on numerous boards under the moniker “Mtbakerskier.” (Grant is clear in his posts about who he really is, which is appreciated and refreshing.) I’ve always wondered what it would be like to switch from photographer to photo editor. Do you just buy a bunch of your own work? Or perhaps you can’t use your stuff, otherwise risking accusations of bias? But mostly, how much backcountry will we see in the new rag, as opposed to park and pipe? Comments are on. Grant?
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.