Before this goes any further, or anywhere at all really, I'd like to make it clear I don't have an ax to grind on this issue. Or even a paring knife that needs sharpening. And I have every intention of opening myself up to charges of hypocrisy as soon as I get around to it--which could be any day now excepting, of course, that like you, I am a lazy slacker.
Hang on, I've missed something. Oh yeah, it would probably be a good idea if I explained what this issue is, otherwise all my non-ax grinding clarity will go to waste. The cause du jour is the recent practice of paintball companies "sponsoring" media peeps. And if you are inclined to favoring consistency of thought and deed the same concerns apply to virtually all traditional paintball media. (Some relatively recent changes in our internet universe have altered the basic equation a bit--more on that part a little later.)
My issue with this may surprise you. I'm all for anybody involved in paintball coming out ahead on the deal. And I have no problem with PBIndustry making every effort to promote their products within the limitations of the law. (To be totally honest I'm not really all that worked up about the law biz either unless consumers are being blatantly ripped off. Hey, what can I say? I'm a laissez faire kinda guy.) I'm also okay with sponsorship (generally) though we're getting closer to my concern. Part of my concern is some of these media peeps run the serious risk of compromising themselves and/or simply becoming shills for their sponsors when they accept money and/or product with the expectation they will look favorably on the sponsor/advertiser. Now I'm not particularly concerned about any individual media type as I am with the wider potential impact on paintball and the ongoing discourse about paintball. You see, if what passes for paintball media undermines its own integrity in the eyes of its audience everybody loses. The media types lose. The audience loses. Paintball loses and even PBIndustry loses because everything is perceived through the skeptical/cynical lens of how are these guys trying to manipulate me today.
Of course this isn't a new problem. It's mostly more of the same old problem that has afflicted Paintball and others as long as there has been an unequal media/industry relationship. Take for example one of my favorites; car magazines. I've been reading them forever and for as long as I've been reading them there are regular comments to the editor(s) questioning a magazine's integrity with regards to one review or another or their treatment of one brand compared to another and the magazines have been open to that perception because the bulk of their advertising support comes from car makers. Same with paintball and it's a legit concern because it's largely unavoidable. Realistically, the best a news or magazine type format can do is offer their product, acknowledge the issue and leave it to their consumers to decide how honestly they are doing their job. Some consumers don't care. Others aren't perhaps particularly savvy to how some of this stuff works--like kids--and others, like me, tend to survey everything with a jaundiced eye while the truth probably resides somewhere in between. Today, though, things are changing with most of paintball media being virtual mags and online media of all sorts. And I'm specifically pointing out the personality driven paintball media because that is where VFTD lives.
I am convinced that a dynamic and diverse paintball-centric media is a key ingredient to paintball's future success. A suspect media cannot succeed because it can't broker open and honest discourse. Neither can a co-opted media. That is why this issue concerns me. Further it strikes me as dishonest not to address the issue when you--okay, not you, I, fully intend to get mixed up in it. (As I said, I'm not too worked up over what anyone else chooses to do, only what the cumulative impact might be.) At some point in the hopefully not too distant future I will be looking to develop an advertising model to help support this site but at the same time I will not let that alter what is posted here and I don't want it to alter how you perceive what is posted here. At any rate, now you know.
One last thing--If you didn't enjoy Ask the Coach, tough. I laughed myself silly and you can count on seeing more episodes in the future.