Where to turn the next page?

Graeme ponders the changing media landscape as the motorcycle racing scene yawns after the winter period

Cycling Magazines: I guess I have read as much as I am going to (I know this is a motorcycle racing publication but please bear with me).

Don’t get me wrong. I love magazines. I am old school. I still get a buzz when the latest issue of my subscription choice drops through the letterbox. I love the smell of a new magazine fresh out of the bag. However, as I head towards my 50’s I get the distinct impression that the content of the magazines are no longer as ‘fresh’ as the stock and ink.

Over the last couple of years I have been contributing to this very wonderful online magazine. I had been asked by the editor to recommend someone within the WorldSBK paddock that could write a blog in English. For various reasons the few who I thought would be suitable couldn’t write anything due to other competing editorial commitments. Adam asked if I wanted to do it myself and reluctantly I agreed to write something and let him decide if it was suitable.

A few years on I have now been asked to write some more. Obviously my main job is as a photographer and I have no illusions of my skills as a writer or journalist but what I have written up until now has resonated somewhere.

The immediate concern I have is finding something interesting to write about on a more regular basis and that must be the dilemma facing every magazine journalist and editor across the planet, particularly on a weekly title. I have a new found empathy for the periodical writer and can visualize editorial meetings where much head scratching and ripping up of notepads takes place.

That said, the three last cycling magazines I have read have all had features and writing that leaves me cold. It is possibly a generational thing but I don’t really see the value in spending a few pounds to get a list of lists: Top 10 this; Top100 that. Where is the insight? Where is the research? Where is the interest? There also seems to be a current trend for product testing in every category of publication. ‘Chris Froome used this product in the last two of his Grand Tour victories’. Of course he did. The manufacturer gave him a huge amount of cash to use said product. When someone comes along with a bit more cash he will be happily using another product. ‘The gearing on this bike makes it suitable for riding a wide range of terrain’. Stick an 11-23 cassette on it and you are stuffed.

It almost seems to me that collectively, people have run out of ideas. Or is that in a social media, digital age, the reader’s attention span has reduced and they are not interested in digesting something that also stimulates the brain.

It leaves me feeling a degree of trepidation. The last thing I want to be doing with my own writing is to be producing banal, repetitive copy. However, I guess being limited to such a narrow subject matter in WorldSBK the repetition is inevitable. I feel exactly the same with my photography but there are only so many corners at each race track, and some haven’t changed for decades. Inevitably over time the images are going to look the same.

The one thing that I will need therefore is engagement. So if you think I am talking rubbish, please let me know! My wife gets bored with me talking about motorcycle racing; I really hope you won’t as well.

Photos by GeeBee images

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