Just the other day I was reading a very interesting article on corrupted journalists receiving gifts from advertisers. Finland is supposed to be the least corrupted country in the world so I’m afraid accepting payments from vendors is the norm in the international cycling press as well. As a subscriber I think it should be fair to expect the publications you pay for would at least try to give you an impartial view on the subject. Unfortunately it seems the media industry as a whole has thrown the ethos of journalism in to the bin.
A normal consumer would expect the magazine to be the product. Unfortunately today it is always the consumer who is being sold. Subscriptions are not raking anywhere near the money advertisements are. Sometimes it even isn’t question of big money. I remember a journalist from a local paper even bragging about getting a good discount from a bike shop he wrote about. As everything is for sale the advertisers get to decide what is being published. When was the last time (if ever?) you saw an article cheap no-name carbon frames in a bike mag? In addition there is the tendency in the media to keep creating a need for new product groups.
At the same time as the media is screwing the public over they are whining how the Internet is killing them. That is the way it should be! The only free media outlets these days are in the blogosphere. Of course independent publishers rarely have the means to do extensive comparisons of all the competing products or write about many cycling travel destinations a year as the money is coming from their own pocket. If actors were to use little bit of ingenuity I think there would be some new tricks that could up the ante and nudge the existing players a little.
Don’t get me wrong. I love reading about new products and looking at pictures of beautiful locations. I have been reading awfully UK centric Cycling Plus quite a bit. Earlier I read SingleTrack and MountainBike UK. Recently I have brought some Peloton numbers, but it just does not have the allure of the other mags. Right now I like the new Cyclist magazine the best. I hope they could change the game and be honest to the ones who pay the bills. Little bit of good old truthfulness and objectivity would go a long way.