Man there just sure does not seem to be that much of it these days. Here I am staring at the latest issue of Dirt Cycle Action magazine. I am looking at the tester comments and they go something like this; “bike “A” is really good because….. so in the end I have to pick bike “B” as the best.” All I can think is, really? Thanks for nothing. Won’t anybody just say the way it is?
It is sort of funny, I have been thinking about this topic on a number of levels for the last few weeks. I have a few things sitting on my plate that I am struggling to find the right approach to, just what to say and how to say it. Then I find the newest magazine in my mailbox and it just hits me over the head once again. Well, at least it helps give me some sense of direction.
What I do here at Enduro360 is something that I personally feel is a little unique. Of course, I am probably the only one with that opinion. In this day and age, there is so much information floating around that it is easy to fill up a website daily. Originally, I really wondered how I was going to keep posting new stuff every day. Now I have so much of it that I have to start to filter it.
However, the whole process gets me a little jaded at times. I see all the press materials that come through, some are good and others not so much so. The problem is, this is what now passes as news. It is content created by the subject, people talking about themselves, not exactly unbiased or insightful. Still, I use much of it simply because it does have value.
When I need to pass along the latest race results, I know that Christy from KTM is staying up late in a hotel room somewhere just so she can get her company’s race report out before midnight. Her report will be concise, it will include the top results from the race, not just the KTM riders and it will have some great photos for me to use. It will be a complete story that I can pass along to you.
Alas, the same cannot be said of all race reports. I just got one from a major team that talked about how their rider had dominated the local race, won everything he entered. I was just about to post it, but realized that it did not actually have any results attached. When I went and looked at the posted results, turns out the rider didn’t even show up for the big Sunday race, just rode some Saturday classes. In this case, the writer deliberately tried to make events fit the story outcome he wanted. Sorry, that one goes in the trash.
Note for all you racers out there; do not send me a race report without a photo. Any photo will do, just you unloading your motorcycle at the event, anything. It doesn’t have to be professional. I want a photo of YOU.
I digress, back to straight talk. I have taken some heat on a few stories this year and I have seen the same happen elsewhere. Problem was, for the most part, everything portrayed in the articles was more or less true. I saw one writer ridiculed as a “so called” journalist, by someone who took exception to a story. It was all true, it just wasn’t convenient to the subject of the story, so it was easier to take a swing at the writer rather than admit the reality.
The problem is that we do not really have any moto journalists anymore. I think that died with exposés on AMA Pro Racing in the old printed Cycle News. Now every special interest has become so accustomed to writing their own glowing reviews that they just assume no one will question them.
It has become commonplace that press releases and advertisements are passed along as if they were original content generated by some editor. It is hard to tell if a product review is real or fake. I see them all the time, because the same material shows up in my inbox also. Blame the economy, moto press is having a hard go at it. Blame the intertube, volume is king for search engine rankings. It all equals money in one way or another. Quality has rather gone by the wayside.
Keep in mind that I am not calling myself blameless either. I am right in the mix of it. I even perpetuate some of it. However, I do make an effort to go in search of content that others overlook. I am always going for the personal approach, the story that is real and soulful. I cannot match the big magazines for splash and style, so I am always looking for my own angle.
I realize that I have to stick to what I feel is quality content. That is the only real draw in this gig for me; I am clearly not making much for money on it yet. I am certain that sometimes I am strictly doing it for my own benefit, but it does give me tons of encouragement when I hear the positive comments of others. Equally, I take constructive criticism to heart and try to learn from it.
Part of the charge for me is being able to pass along the excitement and thrill I get from this sport. It is what gets me out of bed every morning. To that end, I have one criteria to stand by when talking about the products that come through my shop. Does it make me want to go out and ride? Sounds simple, but it is a powerful litmus test of value.
I try to keep it positive. I always look for the big picture view of things. I know I am going to get it wrong occasionally. It also means that there are going to be some less than pleasurable moments when I have to talk about things that do not hit the mark. It is sort of like telling someone that his dog has died, not a task I relish. Yet, that is what straight talk is all about.