Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Paintball Sucks!

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.


Reiner Schafer said...

You don't expect much, do you? What next? Honest Governments without bias toward those that make political contributions?

I feel the internet has done a lot for breaking free of the confines of advertisers dictating substance in at least this medium. Sure there are still some e-magazines and news sites that seem to be trying to replicate their paper counterparts and thereby seem to be at least somewhat controlled by their advertisers. But there are also lots of "freelance" reporters and editorialists with no ties to advertising or sponsorships whatsoever. I don't think there are too many people in paintball players' demographics that are tuning in to just one source for information and are therefore led astray. We are all getting dynamic and diverse information, but we are probably not getting it from one source.

I can guarantee you that no one here is tuning in to VFTD and nothing else. And knowing that, I can sleep a little easier. ;)

anonachris said...

So your sponsorship application got turned down?

"Back in the day" advertising in that particular medium was always enough to keep them liking you. Not anymore. The shills aren't nuanced enough...

anonachris said...

So how about this USPL taking back the NPPL bit? The headline could easily read PSP takes back the NPPL since the NPPL belonged to the PSP originally. I'm really surprised the Gardners or Dave didn't just buy up the NPPL rights once and for all to be rid of it.

BobCat said...

anonachris I thought they would also. I think their new plan of pushing the Webcast and staying focused on their product will make the other guys go away again in the long run.

Bacca I have a bigger problem with the "independent" intranets types. I dont mind Matty Marshal shilling for SP/PSP, example that comes to mind with the Webcast adds. (BTW when are we going to see TBD in one of those?)
I don't like some PB pundents who need to act like asshats to try and get noticed. All the while pointing out they are not getting money from paintball companies. which it seems they want when they decry those that are...I have not read your weekly for this reason.

anonachris said...

Agreed that it's nice to see the PSP push their own plan in the last year rather than constantly reacting to the other guys as has happened in the past.

Back to the advertising & media subject. Paintball needs a diverse media more than ever. Right now it has been reduced to PBN at the center with a few commentary, news sites and magazines at the peripheral. As amazing as PBN is (holy cow it's huge), I don't think its good to have a single dominate "network" like that. More could be said on that...

I'd really like PaintballX3 to succeed. But until they build a solid user base that "lives" in their forums they'll just be another periphery.

Reiner Schafer said...

"I'd really like PaintballX3 to succeed. But until they build a solid user base that "lives" in their forums they'll just be another periphery."

Other than local forums for local jibber-jabber, I think it's a natural for there only to be one main national (or even interntaional) forum. As much as I dislike much of PBNation, it is definitely diverse and covers a very broad demographic (or regular players and industry stakeholders). It will be very difficult for PaintballX3, or any other forum hoping to capture a diverse national/interntaional crowd, to do so.

The only other forums that see decent turnouts are specialty forums like Owner's Groups. But they are pretty well at the opposite end of the diversity spectrum.

I guess there is one more that probably gets decent attendance, but they seem to be a specialty forum as well catering to the immature and the asshats. ;)

Lawrence said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lawrence said...

honestly, imo, the next step for websites would be something ESPNish or like Transworld. Totally dedicated to news and driven on the content of website -- not it's users. But, that's going to require a group of people totally dedicated to providing the service...not to mention a good sum of money to fund everything. I've thought about this a lot, and as much fun as i think it would be, it's going to take people close to the pro teams to be able to start an organization like this. What pro team will answer a bunch of questions about how they run their team to a random guy on the internet?

Honestly, id like to see pbnation take some time to think about developing a website like this that would link to the forums, but for them the trick would be to make the site secondary so the forum is still the feature (or at least that's what they think). itll eventually fail and the forum will remain.

PBx3 takes a step in this direction, but it still feels like it's being driven off of the forums and user based content. For instance, their first, front page, "news story" is only 30 characters long. Or, they just copy paste a press release and add a few parting words to it.

That's why i love VFTDB, it actually gives me something to read other than just looking at headlines i have already seen on pbnation.

mick said...

Could I get the Cliff notes on this post. Thanks. :)

Baca Loco said...

Thanks, Mick. Yes, I know. Just think how the kids feel once I get started? :)

Good points, marginally well made. ;) But do you think you always know who or what is behind every internet enterprise?


Far as I know the only other potential bidder on the NPPL stuff was Tom Cole. Water. Under. Bridge.

I don't have a problem with Matty in that context either because he is working for the PSP and it's all up front. No problem.

If you've got issues with the Big Bullet that's your call but you're missing out. :)

Are you asking for pro team interviews? ;) I volunteered but so far the demand hasn't exactly overwhelmed me.
Btw, I'm with you but that ain't gonna happen today or tomorrow. Hopefully one day.

Reiner Schafer said...

Good points, marginally well made. ;) But do you think you always know who or what is behind every internet enterprise?"

No of course not. But usually after a while, repititious themes start to peak through and the agenda becomes fairly clear.

But your point is noted. It's not always clear and some people can more easily be fooled than others. When I read something, always in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "Why is this person writing this?" For me, understanding who and why is paramount.

And I look at that from the other side as well. You might note that I don't hide behind an alias. ;)

anonachris said...

With a forum the size of PBN, no matter how good the content on PBX3 is, PBX3 will create the content and PBN users will siphon it off to the larger mass and talk about it.

Until the users stay on and live on PBX3 (or whatever site) - and that means read the featured content and hang around to talk about it and talk about other things, PBX3 or any other "news and reporting" site will not be all it can be.

Lawrence said...

it doesnt matter about the quality of the content, it has to do with user based content vs staff and story based, written content. and yeah baca, i feel you there. im waiting for the day that the industry realizes that in order for the teamsto have any real value they're going to have to do more than some magazine covers and actually PROMOTE them.

props to the psp though for taking this first step -- having player stats.

Reiner Schafer said...

A forum board is a forum board. Any one of them is only a mouse click away.

Humans are social animals (most of us anyway). We like to hang out with other people. When you want to go to a nightclub, which one do you go to? The one with 20 people sitting around or the one that's hard to get in because it's filled to capacity every night?

The night clubs can at least try to do something to attract more patrons (different music, food or drink specials). What can a paintball forum really do? The way it moderates is about the extent that they can go to. Maybe give away some door prizes, but that has to be paid somehow, and when you've only got 20 regular posters, that gets hard to justify (finance) real soon.

Anonymous said...

Bobcat said...

"I don't like some PB pundents who need to act like asshats to try and get noticed. All the while pointing out they are not getting money from paintball companies. which it seems they want when they decry those that are..."

If you're talking about PbLive... I agree. Asshat supreme.