Sid Evans has left the building folks.
While I’m sure most of you haven’t read Field & Stream since Jr. High study hall, it means you missed the Renaissance of outdoors writing over the last few years, spearheaded by this magazine and Salt Water Sportsman, formerly headed up by David DiBennedetto.
F&S former editor Sid Evans promoted excellent outdoors journalism by shaping F&S columnist Bill Heavey into one of the great masculine voices of our decade, bringing first class journalists like CJ Chivers of the New York Times to write on fishing, and pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable to publish in a hook and bullet print magazine.
Time4media (former owners of F&S and SWS) auctioned off a bunch of magazines to The Bonnier Corporation. Bonnier (who owns Sport Fishing magazine as well) saw that they were actually paying people for their work — the editorial budget at SWS was much larger than that at Sportfishing — and decided to turn SWS into a money cow by turning it back over to its advertisers.
“At SWS you’re going to see more and larger boat reviews, and fewer articles. Integrity is out, shilling is in. It will soon be wooden how-to articles, formulaic writing, and staged photos and big product pics all over again. The under-served market for good copy about salt water fishing just got worse,” said a friend on the inside of the biz.
You see the same thing at F&S already too. Multi-page spreads on the best lures you should buy, instead of great fishing adventure stories. This month’s big feature — prepping for the upcoming turkey hunting season — was essentially a 5 page ad for new $130 turkey decoys.
It was good while it lasted, and pretty much inevitable that it would go back to sucking. The Web is eating away at print revenues, segmenting audiences up into narrower and narrower interests. And readers interests are shifting. They’re spending more time reading yahoos like me — everybody is a publisher these days. So it’s sad, but not surprising.
If you’re interested, check out a couple of interviews I did a few years back with Sid Evans and CJ Chivers on the state of outdoors writing back in 2005 — when everyone was full of shiny optimism and purpose.