Johnny Barsness on Murder etc

He NAILS  it; :

“My observation was the deaths of those magazines were predictable. When F&S and OL (and to lesser extent Sports Afield) were the “Big Three” of the “outdoor” market, they all covered not just hunting AND fishing, but firearms, boating, camping, etc. Some were also stories of a day or week afield.

Their market started to erode when specialty magazines on all those subjects started to appear, whether for general hunting, or specialties such as flyfishing, canoeing, rifles, shotguns, or whatever. This started happening in the late 80s and early 90s, and as a result mediocre writers who knew a lot about such specialties attracted more readers.

The other obvious trend was TV shows, videos and eventually Internet shows. These are easier for many reading-challenged hunters and anglers to comprehend, though bore the shit out of a lot of us.

The other problem was that the editorial staffs of the so-called Big Three became arrogant, because they thought they “owned” the market. But F&S and OL declined in part because for many years they refused to hire any editor who wouldn’t come to an office in downtown New York City every day. Thus they eliminated more and more hunters, anglers, etc. who actually lived and hunted, fished, etc. Ted Trueblood is a good example. He worked in the NYC office for a while, but said the hell with it and moved back to Idaho.

I was actually interviewed for the editorship of Outdoor Life in the late 1990s. A “head hunter” put me on the list, and even though I wasn’t much interested, they talked me into flying to NYC for an interview. 

Even by that time it was entirely possible to edit a magazine without coming into a NYC (or wherever) office every day–which is how I’d edited Gray’s from Montana. But the best they could offer is to “consider” allowing me to live in the Catskills, because (as the main company guy, who’d never actually hunted  

I know some of this due to being a staff writer for F&S in the 1990s, when they continued to decline–partly due to being sold to bigger companies. The editor was also a corporation guy who thought he owned the writers. By 2000 I was making as much money writing for more specialized magazines, from Rifle to National Geographic, so quit.

Something of the same thing has happened with books. Many authors realized how much they were getting screwed by traditional publishing houses, so started self-publishing.” 

1 thought on “Johnny Barsness on Murder etc”

  1. I have some copies from the 1950s — a former employer found them in a relative’s barn in Nebraska — and what struck me was the variety of advertisers — carmakers, shaving cream, clothing — all sorts of things that were “masculine” but not necessarily outdoor-related. It was like advertising agencies thought, “Men read these, so we will place our client’s shaving-cream ad there.” Even though it did not come in a camouflaged tube.


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