Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More On Media Quality-Responsibility

In NorCal Cazadora’s reply to my last post she covers some important points from the USFWS 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife–Associated Recreation report's statistical data as it relates to the education level of hunters. I think we’re in agreement on the need for a higher standard in outdoor media, and when I look at the numbers she quoted (and the others in the report) I believe it is a clear case of the numbers proving the point of my argument—the quality of the material being published and/or broadcast is directly influencing the future of fishing and hunting. I believe that the less appeal published and broadcast material has to the better educated segments of the population the less likely members of that segment are to be exposed to the positives of hunting. As we lose elements of this segment of our population we lose support from incrementally larger segments of the non-hunting population simply by the influence of one over the other.

An interesting example of how our media functions is in a report published jointly by Responsive Management and The NSSF, The Future of Hunting and the Shooting Sports. The report contains fascinating corollaries between percentages of hunter retention, new hunters and non-hunting support of hunting. The report takes the USFWS report’s numbers and plugs them in with other studies to present a broad picture of what we need to do to preserve hunting (and shooting). In one section it does point out that 94% of active hunters watched a TV program on hunting and 22% were prompted to go hunting after watching the program. As for print media, 78% of active hunters read about hunting and 15% were inspired to go hunting after reading about it. To me, this reinforces my argument about the need for quality in outdoor media. Our work is reaching a very significant portion of the hunting public and therefore we have an obligation to maintain a level of excellence.

NorCal does make one assertion that I would debate—I don’t believe we can make a blanket statement that hunters overwhelmingly come from professions that don’t focus on or require high-level verbal skills. Now, things might have changed (and probably have) in the fifteen years since I last ran a hunting camp, but my experience was that hunting had a fairly equal mix of professions so I don’t think we can sort them out in that way. The exception being (as the numbers point out) waterfowl hunting, which has always drawn heavily from the erudite population and I am convinced this has more to do with the requirement to think about the hunt than some other mystical qualification. (It is unfortunate that waterfowl hunting has taken such a serious black eye in recent days.) I also believe that the professions she listed as examples do require high-level verbal skills. In today’s environment the most successful entrepreneurs, engineers, etc., are those men and women whose command of language (spoken and written) enables them to clearly communicate their ideas, whether across the internet, or the board room. Recently, I read a report (which I have since lost, but I’m sure the data is on the internet) that managers were less tolerant of text-speak than ever before and expect their employees to write cognizant, well organized and thoughtful reports whether in email or on paper. The reason for this demand is quite simple—our litigious society. As society becomes more complex the demands of language are going to increase, not decrease and the question has become one of the tool by which we will receive that language. I do agree with her closing statement that there is a widespread tendency to judge people by how articulate they are, therefore, I do believe that the statement proves the proposition.

Be all that as it may, I fully stand behind my previous post and my argument. If we take the USFWS report at face value and do not apply other studies of hunter/shooter/angler behaviors to understanding the meaning of the numbers and what they represent then we are doing a disservice to the men and women who are the angling/hunting/shooting public. If we assume, based on the report, that the majority of hunters and anglers are less educated and by extrapolation therefore less interested in the future of the environment, and the outdoor sports, and consequently dumb down our work, or insist that our contributors do, then we are adding force to what must become a self-fulfilling prophesy—that American hunting is being pushed out of the model created by Theodore Roosevelt (and others) and into the European model.

What do you think?


NorCal Cazadora said...

Galen, my personal experience is not subject to debate! What I said about hunters being in professions that don't demand high-level verbal skills was based on my personal experience.

Obviously, I know a ton of hunter-writers because I blog and I have inserted myself into that group of hunters.

But among other hunters I meet, both in person and online, I've encountered a ton of people in non-writing professions who don't speak well and/or don't write well, though they are perfectly intelligent and accomplished.

Of course I agree that most professions should demand high-level verbal skills. But that doesn't mean that they attract them, require them or help develop them.

At any rate, I'd love to see data on this topic, but it still won't change my personal experience.

Galen Geer said...

Hi Holly,
Working between days of cutting firewood, clearing new snow and finishing up Christmas presents in my shop I wrote a reply that is more a blog post but you did force me to do some thinking.