Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Outdoor Media Comment

In my last post I struck a nerve with a number of people. Not only on this blog but in wider circles, and I have had a surprising number of comments from some surprising individuals. Most of the comments have an underlying agreement that outdoor TV programs (and online video programming) need improvement, and the suggestions range from content to language with every stop in between. Not everyone agrees, however, that the outdoor broadcast media is having any effect outside of our community. Again, the opinions run the gauntlet from “they are killing us by rednecking us” to “no one really cares.”

I will take some time and look deeper into this issue. When we begin to examine “our” broadcast media should we apply the axiom abusus non tollit usum to the outdoor media? Just because both the standard (language) and the intent of some requirements (blaze orange) have been abused in the past does not alter either the requirement (blaze orange) or the standard (language) for the present. In short, the abuse does not create new rules—although a few comments lean in that direction.

Among the cursory things I have done is to look at the language of various codes of ethics or behavior among some of the outdoor media organizations, and other than a vague language referring to “truth” there are no firm governing rules. In fact, if one took the time to analyze the language of these “codes” they would be found to be archaic. Reading them reminded me of the “Pirate’s Code” from the Pirates of the Caribbean in which various characters, at opportune moments, recite the code as being “guidelines” or “rules” as each circumstance was deemed best by and for the speaker. It seems to me this is exactly the way we want to treat outdoor media, particularly the broadcast side—we’ll apply rules or guides as best suits the speaker—not the sport.

This is a complex issue and one that has been the bane of the outdoor media, and surprisingly to many outdoor writers, reaching back to the 19th century. I can accurately state that the question of quality in outdoor media can be traced back (in this country) to the antebellum years when Henry Herbert (his profile appears on every cover of The Pines Review) was writing his articles on the “sporting life,” establishing the art and form of modern outdoor magazine writing, he was also blasting other, emerging outdoor writers, for what he maintained was “dishonesty” in their writing.

I hope to read more comments on this issue because these comments help guide me when I am doing my research, by providing questions that I don’t think of, and for which I can then search for answers.

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