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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having met so many sailors who are characters with an excellent sense of humour why are sailing articles in magazines so boring. I don't blame the contributors but I do blame the magazines for putting rules in place that make articles homogeneous and a bit bland. They need some oomph. Come on sailing editors, inject some fun, some humour and give us something different.
What is your opinion?
 

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Having met so many sailors who are characters with an excellent sense of humour why are sailing articles in magazines so boring. I don't blame the contributors but I do blame the magazines for putting rules in place that make articles homogeneous and a bit bland. They need some oomph. Come on sailing editors, inject some fun, some humour and give us something different.
What is your opinion?
I think some are, and some aren't...

For instance, if you think the recent features in CRUISING WORLD on St Helena, or the Cape Verdes were "boring", well... perhaps you're just not very 'interesting', yourself... :)

As far as I can tell, sailing magazines are always looking for, or will consider submissions, of material that is fresh, or 'interesting' ... Why not write some, yourself?

I find perhaps the most consistently interesting and 'fun to read' publication to be LATITUDE 38. You might check it out, each issue is available online for free...

The one publication that comes to mind that has made a concerted effort to "inject some fun, some humour and give us something different..." is Bob Bitchen's retread of Lats & Atts, CRUISING OUTPOST... Frankly, I find it to be the most "boring" and least informative sailing/cruising rag of them all...

But that's probably just me :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Online magazines seem to have a little more freedom in what they can publish and they also publish from many good and varied contributors.
Normal sailing magazines seem to be caught in a rut and have been for quiet a few years now. They republish the same type of article over and over again and are too afraid to upset advertisers so their revues never say anything bad.
The trouble is Jon as you say I am not very interesting so reading good articles from others allows me to live a little.
 

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My motto is "Laugh at yourself and beat everybody else to it!" No, really, I tell people that. So, yes, I agree. My problem, and one to look out for in this; too much humor reduces credibility. The brightest guy (my IQ is high enough for Mensa) is deemed an idiot if he laughs too much. So, I'm of a foppish rake, but not much fop and no rake.
 

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As freelance writers of over 15 years we have written for almost every major boating publication. We have seen the trend in recent years make it very difficult for good articles to be published. So most of our articles now go on our free blog or for specific websites. Many magazines today want us to produce a cruising or technical article and do it in 500 words or less. Try telling an interesting story about boating in 500 words. We have also been required to seriously edit an article because the magazine was afraid it might offend an advertiser. Many magazines today have their own "cruising editors" that write most of their articles, making getting a fresh perspective difficult. Many of the magazines that we have written for in the past are now primarily advertorials. Mostly written for or even by some of the big advertisers. Add to all of this, the fillers in most boating magazines that are boats and equipment most average boaters will never be able to afford, and the magazines are just a shadow of their former self. Of course this is just my opinion. Chuck
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Chuck. I have to agree with all that you have said.
Even on our own website we have been offered money to put a blog written by some company or other with links back to them. I could do nothing and sit back getting paid.
I have refused every offer. I don't advertise and have never had anything free or subsidised but it shows the way things are going. We get about 120,000 hits a year so they offer us a small amount as on a website the blog is always there. In a magazine it lasts a month and a glossy magazine advert does not last long.
The magazines have to learn that unless they produce good articles they won't have a readership to get subscribers from.
 

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The magazines have to learn that unless they produce good articles they won't have a readership to get subscribers from.
Methinks you don't fully comprehend how the business of consumer magazine publishing works... It can often have surprisingly little to do with "subscribers"...

:)

Advertising revenue (much more than circulation revenue) seals the fate of most consumer magazines - the shift of ad dollars to the web is the biggest problem facing broad-circulation magazines today.

...

Unlike most other forms of publishing (including music and film), advertising-supported periodicals are not always thrilled when unit sales expand. The reason is simple: revenue for the actual sale of the product is covered primarily by ad revenue, and magazines can reach a point where even moderately improved ad revenue can't cover the cost of increased money-losing circulation. Newsstand circulation is hugely unprofitable (because of distribution costs and the large return rates), and serve mainly to bolster new subscriptions. A vicious circle!

Only in the periodical industry would you find a trade magazine headlining an article "Circ[ulation] Levels Remain Precariously High in Second Half 2006." I can't imagine Publisher's Weekly running an article titled "Book Sales Remain Precariously High in Second Half 2006!"

The article is very revealing of some of the underlying realities of circulation-to-advertising economics. "Several decades ago, advertising and circulation contributed equally (50/50) to a publishing company's profit. Today the profit contribution ratio at most publishing companies is tipped heavily in favor of advertising…" The article then delves deeply into some of the finer points of how circulation figures are audited and reported. Let's just say that you can't believe everything you read, neither in circulation figures, nor in advertising revenue.

Time magazine has recently made a conscious decision to drop circulation levels to improve profitability.

...

"The marginal profit on advertising is very high, whereas the marginal profit from the publishing product is extremely low. For every additional dollar of advertising, there are relatively low direct or incremental costs. Ad commissions might be 15 percent, and there are additional printing and postage costs, and perhaps some editorial costs if a constant ad:edit ratio is being maintained. But, in general, the incremental costs of advertising are extremely low. If ad costs average 20 percent of revenue for a publication, the mark-up could be described as 500 percent.

"Contrast that mark-up to subscription sales where a $12 subscription might carry printing, postage and fulfillment costs of $8. Here we have a 50 percent mark-up - and for many publications, that's a lot. I'm familiar with publications that charge $12 and have service costs of $18, and a publication that charges $27 and costs $23 to fulfill."

- See more at: Thad McIlroy ? Future Of Publishing » The Future of Magazines
 

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The question has to be asked why should one have to 'wade through' ~25% of the content of print media, big screen as well as small screen and internet, .... to get to 'meat' that one is expecting? .... especially when the same adverts are repeatedly run over and over and over and over again.
Consider, would one even visit this website if one had to constantly 'endure' several 30 second video 'commercials' ... before getting to 'the meat' of this website?
 

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As a professional writer I suspect that most sailing mags aren't really aimed at active sailors. They're aimed at dreamers. That's why the content doesn't really appeal to most of us. There are a few exceptions like Good Old Boat, but most of the mass-market "sailing" pubs aren't aimed at people actual out there, doing it.

The reason is obvious; for every active sailor/cruiser, there are probably 100 dreamers. If you were in the business of delivering eyeballs to advertisers, which market would you target?
 

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I read everything I can about sailing. However, I am sometimes disappointed when reading an article on subject I know something about. I am not so much after humour and entertainment (that would be great, but it takes a lot of talent), just accurate information.

This from a yachting journalist posting on a forum (YBW), in a rare candid moment, sort of sums it up:

"yottin magazins need to pander to advertisers, and no point in biting the hands that feeds you - equally advertisers do not like controversial articles, because their product might be in the next one. So do not knock the jurnos - they only write what is allowed."

There are some immensely knowledgeable people writing for magazines, but the above comment suggests that what we see in print does not necessary reflect their views, which is a pity.

If we got the the journalists real views instead of the sanitised version the magazines would be a lot more interesting.
 

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I read everything I can about sailing. However, I am sometimes disappointed when read an article on subject I know something about. I am not so much after humour and entertainment (that would be great, but it takes a lot of talent), just accurate information.

This from a yachting journalist posting on a forum (YBW), in a rare candid moment, sort of sums it up:

"yottin magazins need to pander to advertisers, and no point in biting the hands that feeds you - equally advertisers do not like controversial articles, because their product might be in the next one. So do not knock the jurnos - they only write what is allowed."

There are some immensely knowledgeable people writing for magazines, but the above comment suggests that what we see in print does not necessary reflect their views, which is a pity.

If we got the the journalists real views instead of the sanitised version the magazines would be a lot more interesting.
On the other hand, the Letters to The Editor might become a bit more 'predictable', all sounding the same note...

95% of them would probably be taking the rag to task, for "BASHING" a handful of particular Brands...

:))
 

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As a professional writer I suspect that most sailing mags aren't really aimed at active sailors. They're aimed at dreamers. That's why the content doesn't really appeal to most of us. There are a few exceptions like Good Old Boat,
Agreed. And I think Ocean Navigator is another exception.

Disclosure: I've written for ON, but that's because I think they are good/interesting, not the other way around.
 

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I still subscribe to "Sailing", "Cruising Outpost" and "Boating". Not every article in every magazine gets me going but enough of them do to keep me subscribing. I used to subscribe to "Cruising World" for years, and have been meaning to do so again.

I get excited when I get a new magazine in the mail. :)
 

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I find the U.S. magazines no more than pamphlets these days. Several years ago I counted the number of pages of content versus ads and it was pretty obvious that ads were more important than actual content. I probably have been around too long but how many times can an article on winterizing or replacing a sea **** be written about?

I usually go to my local Barnes and Noble and read Sail and Cruising World in a nano second. I really enjoy the British mags, Yachting World and Sailing Today and will purchase them frequently. There is no comparison. Once you read one you will wonder why U.S. publishers can't put out this level of quality,
 

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I find the U.S. magazines no more than pamphlets these days. Several years ago I counted the number of pages of content versus ads and it was pretty obvious that ads were more important than actual content. I probably have been around too long but how many times can an article on winterizing or replacing a sea **** be written about?

I usually go to my local Barnes and Noble and read Sail and Cruising World in a nano second. I really enjoy the British mags, Yachting World and Sailing Today and will purchase them frequently. There is no comparison. Once you read one you will wonder why U.S. publishers can't put out this level of quality,
Nailed it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Anchorbend. That is really strange because being British most of my comments are directed towards the British boating magazines. They re run the same articles every year and there are far fewer of them. The ones that are written are usually edited to the point of blandness that makes them boring. I know myself and from others what you do contribute is cut so much it does not resemble your original submission. What reviews are published are hardly reliable. They are more adverts than reviews and when have you ever seen a bad one. They do not want to offend the company who they will get to place a big advertisement alongside the review and that is if the company did not write it themselves in the first place.
 

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I find the U.S. magazines no more than pamphlets these days. Several years ago I counted the number of pages of content versus ads and it was pretty obvious that ads were more important than actual content. I probably have been around too long but how many times can an article on winterizing or replacing a sea **** be written about?
It was ever such Anchorbend. As long as a publication is dependent on advertising, it will always feel the pull of conservative reporting when covering those who pay the bills. It is particularly strong with trade pubs, but is the same in all ad-supported publications. This goes for paper, as well as online pubs.

Things have only gotten worse over the last decade as advertisers abandon traditional pubs in favour of online. The problem is, they don't want to pay the same price, so publications get more and more squeezed. Doesn't help that most people now think information should be free, so won't pay a cent.

As the saying goes, if you're not paying for the product, then you are the product.
 

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It was ever such Anchorbend. As long as a publication is dependent on advertising, it will always feel the pull of conservative reporting when covering those who pay the bills. It is particularly strong with trade pubs, but is the same in all ad-supported publications. This goes for paper, as well as online pubs.

Things have only gotten worse over the last decade as advertisers abandon traditional pubs in favour of online. The problem is, they don't want to pay the same price, so publications get more and more squeezed. Doesn't help that most people now think information should be free, so won't pay a cent.

As the saying goes, if you're not paying for the product, then you are the product.
Yup, it's funny how I never seem to hear people complaining about the amount of advertising they have to "wade through" while reading the freebies such as LATITUDE 38, or SPINSHEET... :) And again, I think that's the best content in CRUISING OUTPOST, virtually every product under the sun related to cruising is advertised in that rag, it's far and away the best source for little-known or niche items...

Few people seem to understand the budgetary pressures and trends these sort of consumer periodicals are facing today... Hell, even the last issue of LATITUDE 38 I picked up was noticeably thinner than it used to be... Sure, OFFSHORE NAVIGATOR is a very nice publication, but most issues seem to rarely exceed much more than 50 pages, probably no other glossy costs more per page of content... Most people think an ad-free publication like PRACTICAL SAILOR is way over-priced, and wish GOOD OLD BOAT was published monthly. However, how many would be likely to pay $80+ per year for a subscription, if they did so?

I think there's little doubt that CRUISING WORLD was a more 'interesting' magazine a dozen years ago, particularly when Herb McCormick was the editor... The good times were rolling, he had a substantial budget to work with, and features were often being written by literary luminaries like Jonathan Raban, Peter Nichols, and Derek Lundy... Then the magazine was sold in the typical kind of private equity/LBO swap that makes a ton of money for someone, but none of them listed on the magazine's masthead... The margins these publications are now operating on are incredibly tight, with much of the content now provided by in-house staff... Look at how much of the content of SAIL is now being written by the editor Peter Nielsen, it's incredible... Trust me, that's not the result of a conscious decision on HIS part, to be doing so... :)

And while many people supposedly want to hear 'unvarnished' or unfettered expression of opinion, that's a double-edged sword in today's world... Someone is always out there, just waiting to take offense, and it's not just advertisers... Herb was reminded of this to a very sobering, indeed frightening, extent during his tenure as CW's editor... He wrote a couple of pretty 'opinionated' editorials in the wake of the killing of Sir Peter Blake aboard his boat in Brazil, and later on in response of President Bush's "Proclamation" restricting travel to Cuba ten years ago... The first created quite an uproar regarding the issues of cruising with guns aboard, hardly surprising, but the second was particularly scary... His email inbox, but especially his telephone voice mail, were flooded with some very disturbing messages of a threatening nature - "I know where you live, where your daughter goes to school..." type of stuff - simply for his criticism of the President's edict that was of significant import to cruisers...

At any rate, I'm sure glad I'm not trying to get rich in the sailing magazine business, these days... :))
 

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I found it interesting when I looked at the submission guidelines for Cruising World a few years ago that they wanted articles about cruises done in contemporary boats (can we say production boats). In other words they wanted an article about a visit to St Helena in a 2006 Beneteau/Amel/Island Packet and not one by a 1980 vintage whatever. I guess that advertisers want their boats featured in the stories and not boats that were built by companies no longer in existence (strangely enough Bristol Yachts has not had an ad in a magazine for some time).
 
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