Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Paintball & Media Relations, Act III

As the regulars to VFTD know I have, in the past, gently mocked the travails of some of the would-be media surrounding paintball--okay, maybe not so gently all the time--as a vanity project for everyone involved, photographers and players alike. While true in many instances it isn't the whole story as there are some more serious (dare I say?) professional photographers who follow paintball. Unfortunately for them there is very little recording of and reporting on paintball in anything that even resembles a professional media and of the rest, e-zines and websites mostly, professionalism and artistry often take a back seat to cheap or free given the massive amount of raw data generated on a constant basis.
One answer is for the large scale paintball events to restrict the number of media peeps they allow at their events. After all, one of the most common complaints is there aren't enough teams (or jobs shooting teams or players) to go around for all the photographers showing up. Fewer photogs means a larger payday for the ones who make the grade. Which leads to the next and trickier part of the proposition--deciding who merits a media pass and who doesn't. Accredited reps of recognized media outlets, those with an established reputation in the field and .. and, and perhaps a few whose portfolio indicate a unique eye and commitment beyond buying an expensive camera and playing photographer. (Though how the average paintball promoter makes that judgment I don't know.) Anyway, it remains a conundrum of sorts and what got me started on this riff is our friends over at the CPS have taken a crack at introducing their own media guidelines for 2013.
In this case "guidelines" appears to be a kinder, gentler version of rules 'cus make no mistake, these are rules to be abided, not suggestions. Which is fine as long as you're not confused by the term "guidelines." It comes in 6 sections and what it really needs is simplifying. Trim it down to the bare minimum. In Section 1, Access, for example there is nothing about a maximum number of media types allowed or a distinction between on field or off field media personnel. Much of the material here could be guidelines as much of the on field stuff is simple common sense--though there are a couple items that strain the brain. Like 3.6. I understand the intent, I think, but it strains credulity to imagine just how someone would commit that infraction without anyone the wiser. And Section 4 goes above and beyond on behalf of the media for what is, after all, a league request, not a requirement. (If you hadn't noticed before this part gives away the fact these guidelines were written by a media member.) The guidelines close out with Section 6, Sales of Service, which is (again) largely understandable but not very clear.
On the plus side good for the CPS (and A.H.) for making the effort. (It's a largely thankless job as this post confirms but it's the sort of thing that eventually requires doing.) That said, the CPS media guidelines could use another once, or twice, over to round them into form. (No, I'm not volunteering.)


Nerdy in 402 said...

The PSP should regulate the media system more, for it's own sake. The league should auction off media rights, and the pool of bidders should be picked by the league on the basis of professionalism, both portfolio and conduct, history, and distribution.
The bidding should be conducted in the same manner as a silent auction, ending on specified date with X number of rights distributed to the top bidders. The above noted bidder selection process would ensure that everyone in the bidding pool would be qualified.
Photogs, could sell there media rights to teams, zines, companies, and the league. This would limit access to on the field shots, somewhat, but at the same time fund and promote the best talent for those shots. A team or company would still have all the time in the world outside of the league to capture any image they wished on their own accord.
While some may suggest that there would not be enough opportunities for D2-D4 teams, I say let the market square that problem. It would only take a few events for some to realize that there is money to be made by selling rights, probably at a lower costs, to eager divisional teams wanting to find good, tournament branded, promo material.

Anonymous said...

That would imply that the paintball media has "funds to bid" with.

Anonymous said...

"Double dip"

Too many are paying to be in the advertising of their patrons. Sure, this is vanity, but it puts butts in the seats and there aren't too many of those left. I hear there's this program that promisses to turn that around...


Israel said...

I'm all for going the pro route when it comes to media in paintball, but I've not even gotten past 1.1 when finding a typo in this CPS media rules thingy.

PBGirl69 said...

Baca - first of thank you for a constuctive critisim. The term "guidelines" maybe was not the best term to use. Millennium Series, while they are not written anywhere, are guidelines. Maybe "regulations" or "policy" are more of a better terms to have used? I agree that the guidelines need refining but as stated in the notes/guidelines that they can be altered or corrected as needed. Things that may seem common sense to most, needs to be spelled out to others who try to play the grey line "oh I didnt know that". To reply to your points, to maybe explain what I was thinking when I wrote these. For 14yrs now I've been involved with paintball and paintball media. I've wrote and shot for many of the largest print magazines in our paintball history (may most of them rest in peace) In the said 14yrs I have experienced in some form or another different rules/regulations/common sense things. So with that in mind I took the experience, guidelines from Millennium, NPPL and PSP to TRY to form a media program that would best produce a professional look and feel to the series and promote the events in the best possible way. To to reply to your points, which are valid. As for the maxium number of media on the field, that can vary from field to field and event to event. For example in Padova last year we had MAYBE one meter of space on the field. Even the marshals had problems and snake side bunker was up against the netting. Fields that have more room for free roaming media there can be more. As for the 3.6 point, yes you are right none the wiser, but the purpose of this point is to maintain a fair playing field for all media, even I have to abide by this. Its as simple enough is stepping out to the parking lot to make your arrangements. I've seen the "photographer for hire" t-shirts enough that it sounds really not professional at all. As we move along to your other points. In section 4, we dont require you to give us photos, we request them as to help promote the league. Many other series around the globe say its REQUIRED to give them photos. I tried to make this more of a goodwill thing to encourage the media to help grow the series. We require that any images submitted to us also contain the CPS logo, which again is promotion for the series. We also state that any photo submitted to us only need be 800px and do not have to be more than 72dpi as they will only be used on the social media sites and on the official CPS website, again for promotional use only.

As for section 6, well even though it may be common sense like the other points you made here that were common sense, I felt need to be clearly written out. Only one so far out of several including one of the worlds most known paintball photograpers have complained about one or hell all of the points...only one. Things that are not written in any of the guidelines for any major leagues is experience, with the exception for #6 in this media pass policy from the NPPL

Just because someone has shot motorcross, soccer or hockey doesn't make them experienced on a paintball field. Paintball in itself is a whole different beast and isn't any run of the mill sport.

I've seen the PSP's media policy as well, and have seen on the webcasts, even clearly stated in the policy, still go against what the policy states. I've heard that media have actually been pulled off the field by a camera man for obvious common sense things that are outlined by the PSP.

(my rant was too long - continues on next post)

PBGirl69 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PBGirl69 said...

The problem that is found in every series you go to is the inexperience of photographers who go onto the field. I've seen those who walk out to the middle of the field and lay down flat in front of the back bunker so they can get the "perfect breakout shot". Problem with this is both photographer as well as the player can be injured. I don't think I've ever seen a photographer on the field for a football, baseball or pretty much any other type of sporting events.

As for these guidelines, even myself are not exempt to them. I have followed the common sense rules as well as those that have been implanted in my brain by editors and successful paintball photographers (Miguel Cruz comes to mind) I think with the boom of digital media that some form of written structured guidelines, rules, regulations, policies are needed. There are many new photographers coming into the paintball scene that may not know the "rules of the game" when it comes to being on the field.

I hope that I can refine these to a better stable and precise form that can be used as a template for someone elses series or event.

Yes a media member did write these, who best to write them than someone who has experience, who has been doing this for many years. Look at the game rules for paintball. They were written by those had been playing the game. These rules have adapted, evolved and become more of a standard in paintball.

As I wrote these "guidelines", ok its more a policy, I talked with many other magazine owners, editors and media professionals about "ok what do you think about this" or "how do we sort out the non-experienced photographers", I received both positive and negitive critisims and corrected an added to the policy (note to self change name from guidelines to policy)

My intentions were good, and somewhat thought out but an effort was made on my part to help promote paintball by giving form to media to produce quality photos and videos for events. Seriously thank you for taking time and reading these "guidelines" an giving feeback to what was just a start of something that maybe in the future can be a part of a standardized media policy that can be used wherever no matter the series or in the world that paintball is found.