From the Heartland

This is my soap box, on these pages I publish my opinions on firearms and any other subject I feel like writing about.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Gun Rags - Why I don't buy them

As if I didn't need any reassurance of why I seldom do it, I bought a current issue of one of the firearms periodicals.

Now I know I am not the most knowledgeable of scribes when it comes to shooting, reloading, bullet casting, ballistics and all around gun stuff. I can however hold my own with my betters on most of the referenced subjects.

I am not going to embarrass the authors by mentioning the periodical.

Note to Author #1 - It is obvious that you do not have even the most basic understanding of MOA and therefore have no business writing an article explaining it to anyone else.

Note to Author #2 - You were doing good until you sought to explain how sights are adjusted. I didn't even finish the article. I tossed the magazine across the room while grabbing my earlobes and repeating the phrase "Woosaw, woosaw, woosaw".

As expected the rest of the rag was even more uninspiring.

Okay so you guys had the opportunity to shoot some new guns sent to you by the manufacturers. Been there done that, so far so good.

And for the readers benefit - No you don't get to keep them unless you want to pay for them. They get sent back to the factory so the same gun can be sent out to some other scribe so he can add his stamp of approval to the makers advertising essay.

And for you aspiring outdoor writers there is generally a six month lead on material. Meaning Magazines staffs are setting the layout for the September - November hunting season issues right now. Unless it is something spectacular enough for them to change the layout if it isn't submitted in the next month or so it will be too late for this year.

The Trifecta

Gun writer gets a gun from one company around the same time as he/she gets a scope from another company. They he/she either gets ammo from or convinces an ammo company to send some for testing.

Writer puts test scope on test gun and heads to the range with test ammo. During the "test" pictures are taking with an eye toward at least one article on each product.

When done the writer has completed one day of testing with sellable material for three different articles to three different publications (unless they are on exclusive contract and most are not).

Of course in the furtherance of "job security" the article on the scope will mention the rifle and ammo. The article on the rifle will mention the scope and ammo etc....

How about some originality

Since they sent you the gun the least you could do is come up with something original instead of rewording or doing a cut & paste from the website. Why the hell should I have to pay the better part of ten bucks to read something I can read for free in the makers press release?

So much for these publications being educational and written by experienced people that know what they were talking about.

I know they are not. Never really have been, but in years past at least there was the facade of "we're doing it for our readers".

The articles are getting shorter, less informative and those that are suppose to be informative seem to be written by folks that barely have a clue as to what they have been assigned to write about.

Oh and if you have been reading these "rags" as long as I have you will note how much of what is published is simply a reprinting of articles written over the last 25 years. Sometimes they change it to make it more current, sometimes they don't.

Oh and lets not forget that all of these magazines exist for one reason and one reason only;

To make a profit.

I know that comes as a shock to many of you that so and so didn't publish that article because he/she genuinely cares that you learn something. That may have been the writers intent, but the only reason that story got printed in the first place was because there was something in the article they could use to sell advertising space.

Read any of these "rags" and notice the advertising that is paged with or close to the subject of the article. No it's not a coincidence.

Phone conversation;

Advertising sales associate;
Hey Joe this is John Adman with "Guns Be Good Publications". We are thinking about running a very positive article R. Shooter wrote on your new bolt action double barrel belt fed single shot semiautomatic rifle for our September issue. Hehe just in time for the "buy a new gun for deer season sales" ole buddy. Can we count on you for a full page ad?

Gun Maker;
No problem John, just send me the bill.

Guess what!

If the maker doesn't buy the ad space the article never gets printed. Bet that surprised everyone.

Make your own decision on the magazines but understand that every single article you read will be published with the intent to sell advertising and may have been written by someone that knows little about what the hell their writing in the first place.

Oh and for those that think I am "BSing" here is an actual conversation I had with an editor back in 2001.

Editor; Acme Express is just down the road from you and the Ad execs here think they would be a good fit for our publication.

Okay ???????

We need you to write a positive article about their Xyz. You know businesses are more apt to cut the check if they get a good product review story to go along with it.

Me; I am already familiar with the piece of junk Xyz and my literary skills aren't good enough to make a silk purse out of that sows ear.

Long story short - Someone (not me) did the story and they sold a full page ad.

Yes I have done a few product reviews on these pages and I plan on doing some more, but rest assured that what I write about a product good or bad comes from my personal experience with it and will not be based on whether it generates any kind of revenue for this website.

Moral of the story

I have learned my lesson yet again. No matter how good the teasers are on the cover just about any "Gun Rag" I have bought in the last 10 years has been published with one thought in mind - Sell Advertising.

They don't even pretend anymore.


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