Friday, September 11, 2009

Travails of a Wannabe Paintball Writer

Tired of all the sturm und drang going on in paintball? Me too. So how 'bout a story instead?

Shortly after the USPL announced its original schedule, complete with conference only events, I got an email from the editor of FaceFull inquiring as to my interest and availability in producing an event report for them for the DC Challenge. Since I always liked doing event reports I replied that I'd be happy to undertake the assignment. In this market environment such opportunities are rapidly dwindling. We didn't discuss things like payment or word count as they would sort themselves out later on. Paintball media tends (or tended) to be a bit more informal, shall we say, than many other forms of publication. Although not quite down to the level of neighborhood newsletters writing for paintball mags was often a bit less glamorous and lucrative than I suspect many people often think. Anyway, it sounded like fun to me. (Just wait, my ideas about fun get worse.)

Welp, in the meantime the DC Challenge was rescheduled and the whole notion of regional conference events got rolled back into national events and pretty soon a number of months had gone by without any contact between me and the magazine. The week before the event I dropped the editor a brief note looking for confirmation of the assignment--not really expecting to get it. Which I didn't.

For those of you who don't only look at the pictures (a minority I'd guess, present company excluded) you're well aware that Rich (Telford) handles all those sorts of duties for FaceFull. (He also, as it happens, does a terrific job of it, dammit.) So of course once the DC event became a national event that Rich would naturally attend FaceFull promptly forgot about poor old Baca. Which is just what I expected to happen. (And, alas, I'm almost always right.)

Before I go any further just to show there's no hard feelings here's a freebie. Good as Rich is in print he's better live. If FaceFull wants to enter the 21st century they ought to start doing sponsored Rich-hosted podcasts. (Or Rich could throw off the shackles of Old Media and do them himself--I suggest subversively.) Besides, (I'm starting the rumor) the wife ghosts all his written material anyway.

If you are now disillusioned by the notion that writing for a paintball mag isn't all champagne brunches and bikini-clad beach bunnies I'm gonna take another moment to drag your feet closer to the ground. The reason the FaceFull brush off didn't bother me in the least is because I knew it wasn't personal. And I knew it wasn't personal based on the criterion used to contact me in the first place. If you're thinking brilliant writing, think again. If you're thinking experience you're not even close. If you're thinking involved in the pro scene I scoff at your naivete. In some measure those things do matter (kinda, sorta, sometimes) but the priority is no out of pocket cost to the magazine. In essence if you are a warm body and you are present you are in the running. As it turned out it was likely for the best. If I'd been doing the piece I'd have felt obligated to hang around on Sunday--though I know of an event or three where the writer wasn't actually present--and I had a great time at the National Gallery of Art in DC instead. (See? I warned you about what I find fun.) Most of the team had never been to DC so they were up for the trip though nobody joined me mostly wandering off to the Air & Space or Natural History museums.

Here is where I confess to an ulterior motive. Thing is I've been cogitatin' on paintball media lately and its roll (and importance) in the development and popularity of the game and starting soon I'll be doing a series of related posts and this was my way of introducing the idea. It's an overlooked (or at least under-discussed) aspect of paintball's recipe for future success. And seriously, would most of the stars of pro paintball be half as popular as they are (or were) without a paintball media?

Btw, seen a Paintball Sports recently?


Don Saavedra said...

If I wasn't unemployed paintball would have a podcast to complain about. Stupid economy.

BeSmart said...

" . . . I scoff at your naivete."

^^^^^^^ thats awesome Baca.

Reiner Schafer said...

Well the ONLY reason I even know a few pro paintbal player's names here in the hinterlands is because of reports and advertising in the media. I'm afraid I've never gotten excited about any of them though (sorry guys) but being in business, I know that many of the locals do follow the pro scene and the pro players, even though they have never been at a pro event.

And let's fact it, the industry needs people up on pedestals for the rest of the kiddies to swoon over and aspire to be like.

Don Saavedra said...

There are personalities and stories in this sport that do deserve attention. I think it's tragic what's happened to our media.

Anonymous said...

Paintball Media is an Oxymoron and those who choose to charge Paintball Media types to report on their event are even bigger morons.

Missy Q said...

People charge the media to report on their events? Who does that?
Are we talking about the guy who shows up with a handy-cam and insists that he needs to get onto center-court, during the Pro-finals, and do 'media-stuff' for his 'website'?

Why is Paintball Media an Oxymoron?

Why have you used the term 'bigger morons'? You realise that oxymoron does not actually refer to anything 'moronic'

Was this a 'play on words'?

Baca Loco said...

I have some sympathy for the expression paintball media as oxymoron actually given that much of the traditional media was largely an uncritical cheering section.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat a play on words. People think that the words Paintball Media legitimizes someone creating content and selling it for profit. I am sure in Baca's eyes he sees it as a group that should be critical of the sport in a more traditional sense of media. There are very few left in the so called Paintball Media that actually care anymore. Their margins are crap or non existant. Most of us in the illegitimate Paintball Media, meaning we don't see money for supporting our sport, do it because we love it and if we didn't no one else would. The kid with the camcorder at the field is a bigger issue. I say, you want to make the Pro's the big ticket in the PSP, fine. Let the kid with the camcorder go through a process whereby he can get access to the divisional fields so the teams supporting the leagues can actually get some camera time.

You can have your Pro players and so called Paintball Media. Good luck with that. Until something changes, the only way the people in this sport know about anything more than what the Pros are doing is those of us who take of our time and resources to create content for the sport love. Always knowing that it's not about the paycheck or the fame, but about putting the Sport out there for folks to see.

Anonymous said...

With the internet, there's no need for magazines. Even the e-zines or web-zines or whatever they're called are too slow to report. These days, we want to know what happened in the last hour...not the last two months. We already know what happened at MSO this fact, 99% (I'd assume) knows the scoop by 8PM Sunday evening of any tournament. Frankly, it would be ignorant to shell out money 2 months later to read what we already know.

Don Saavedra said...

You're assuming the only function of a paintball magazine is to deliver the news.

Anonymous said...

Enlighten us as to the role of the Digital/Print Paintball Magazine in the Internet Age Senor Don. :)

Oh and Update your Blog for Pete's Sake!

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