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Ask Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is recognized as an authority on surf fishing for striped bass. He is the author of six books and hundreds of magazine articles. Frank is a member of the Outdoor Writers of America and lectures throughout the Northeast.

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Old 07-14-2017, 11:23 AM
John_P John_P is offline
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Default How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

This is an interesting one. I do know that some articles are praised by the old school but younger guys just don't get it

There's a suggestion that today's reader simply wants the exact lure, and spot, add a hero shot, and don't bother him with s story or narrative. Ok I'm being a bit harsh but only to make a point.

But we can't deny social media has completely changed the press as we know it

What do you think?
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:26 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

First of all, I want to say that outdoor writing is one of the cleanest forms of press in our society. Reason for this is that the outdoors is less political and serves a willing readership. Outdoor writers are providing a rather innocuous, yet valuable service to its readers -- how to fish/hunt, where to fish/hunt. Outdoor press is in a cleaner business than run-of-the-mill print media.

Having been serving outdoor readers since 1968, I believe readers needs and writers providing of such needs has changed very little. Today's sportsmen want the same things their fathers wanted and those providing that service are meeting it. If anything, the quality of that service has improved.

I have plans to say much more on this wildly cogent thread, John, but I wanted to open it up for the protocols. Thanks for putting this up. It is a favorite subject of mine and will keep me reflecting on this for days because it has a lot of angles that need treatment. (Be back a little later.)
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:56 PM
John_P John_P is offline
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

Thanks for quick response

One related topic is

How do you know what is connecting with readers?

I know you've got book sales, but anything else?

I know you've said Hotspots has sold more books, but my own favorite by far is 20 Years
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Old 07-14-2017, 03:14 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

My beginning was with surfcasting and I have been a surf writer since I started with SWS. Now I am primarily a surf writer, though I have done other things like shooting and hunting on a smaller scale. My main gigs are here and SW magazines who cover boats and surf. My books sales are not as lucrative any more because I stopped doing seminars and royalties are dismal because the world has largely bought my eight titles. Hot Spots did okay but the real market stormer was Stripe Surf. Twenty Years did not sell a million copies but I made out moneywise when I took over publishing it. The northeast is striper country and I was really the first; there had been other shore striper books a million years ago but nothing was available during my writing years so I kind of got in during a literary striper void, lucky. Now there are so many doing it that for me it kind of stinks. I am not going to work all year for a lousy $10,000. Also, I was killed by the press over the dog thing 15 years ago causing the loss of a couple of good gigs -- a Cape publication and Mass Bass. I despised the press long before Donald Trump. Investments took up the slack of when I had been writing seriously. Lets get back on track.

In 1989 the teacher's retirement offered an early out deal because experienced teachers were too expensive. The pension was not quite liveable but I had a fat IRA, a working wife, and my writing, seminars and book sales matched the tiny pension. I fished, hunted, wrote while enjoying the life of a half-fast rock star. A dream for which I was matching my teaching salary. (Some of the Internet trolls would call my life style greedy.) After health, life is about money. And love. And stripers. And shooting well.

There can be a lot of stones in the road so, like Marines, you have to adapt/improvise.
Guys were killing each other on the Cape. Rangers were busting chops. Market fishing stripers got outlawed and Mister Smarty was thrown to the wolves. I always did what I thought I had to do even putting a round down a dog's throat, I usually did the right thing. Right now I have two editors who treat me like gold.

Outdoor writing is clean because it does not require the writer to screw anybody to create copy. I mean that when you tell a reader how to put a worm on a hook, is the worm going to bitch? Of course if reporters were not so desperate they could check their sources, could stop spinning stories they stooled from some other source who was first to spin it. If you have come to the conclusion that I hate those (p)ricks, I have satisfied my intent.

Connecting with readers? That's easy. I gave my life to striper fishing from shore and learned during that time the charm that I know makes it exciting. All I do is remind him of what he already knows. If he does not yet know, its my job to get him there and that is easy too.
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Old 07-16-2017, 07:37 AM
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

I have appreciated Frank and a small number of other outdoor, specifically fishing, writers since I started fishing avidly (with passion) relatively late in life.... mid-40s.

As such, however, I'm now in the older demographic and see shifts in general with the younger generation... those who are coming of age in the "social media" era.

I think publications like Surfcaster's Journal, however, are hitting the nail on the head with new online multimedia format. They are trying out the combined power of blogging, youtube, with a fairly readable digital format that I haven't seen others trying to the same extent. Combine that with first rate authors (hint: Mr. Smarty graces the "pages" from time to time) that span the generations and it's a home run, from my perspective.

I really wonder, however, if it's possible to get a bead on what the younger audience wants... or more to the point, how they will feel most comfortable consuming the outdoor writing. It's not so much the content that will change, since hunting and fishing at their basic core won't change, but how the readers will access and consume that content, IMO.
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Old 07-16-2017, 04:28 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

Digital photography has made photos better than back when we used to pay for film, developing. Those days every exposure you snapped cost money and you could spend big bucks for a bad trip to the darkroom. Now, people take a bunch of good pictures that have no related cost, Our Migauel member takes marvelous photos that cost him nothing. My early years a lot of the magazines used to publish some real crap. Joe Brooks in a dress shirt and tie with a grip and grin of a dead fish. When I started I could see nobody would take pictures at night surfcasting. I sold SWS a cover photo of a guy at night when it never had been done. Being on the inside if the quality of support photography made articles better, than readers had to experience a better read.
Old time editors talked to writers where today you make a submission and never hear back. I queried a current SWS editor who never heard of me and did not even show me the courtesy of a refusal. Just didn't answer. I have one out with an editor now for a year. No response! Editors today, not all mind you, don't know that it is unethical to let a writer rot. So while the product is better today, the editor/writer ethic is functioning without well followed protocols. I have two editors that I love, but I have a few that won't even show me the courtesy of a rejection. And of course I have the one who kicked me out 16 years ago.
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Old 07-16-2017, 06:32 PM
John_P John_P is offline
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

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Originally Posted by Francis Daignault View Post
Digital photography has made photos better than back when we used to pay for film, developing. Those days every exposure you snapped cost money and you could spend big bucks for a bad trip to the darkroom. Now, people take a bunch of good pictures that have no related cost, Our Migauel member takes marvelous photos that cost him nothing. My early years a lot of the magazines used to publish some real crap. Joe Brooks in a dress shirt and tie with a grip and grin of a dead fish. When I started I could see nobody would take pictures at night surfcasting. I sold SWS a cover photo of a guy at night when it never had been done. Being on the inside if the quality of support photography made articles better, than readers had to experience a better read.
Old time editors talked to writers where today you make a submission and never hear back. I queried a current SWS editor who never heard of me and did not even show me the courtesy of a refusal. Just didn't answer. I have one out with an editor now for a year. No response! Editors today, not all mind you, don't know that it is unethical to let a writer rot. So while the product is better today, the editor/writer ethic is functioning without well followed protocols. I have two editors that I love, but I have a few that won't even show me the courtesy of a rejection. And of course I have the one who kicked me out 16 years ago.
I suspect some editors just don't have the time. Maybe they are worried about getting the bills paid and pleasing advertisers.

It getting back to the point, I just don't know if readers have changed. Some mags I'll
Read a few paragraphs and shrug my shoulders like I guess readers like the tired cliches
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Old 07-17-2017, 09:54 AM
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

The big change is readers don't have time to read .
Went to the local recycling depot last month and this guy had a pick-up truck filled with used library conditioned books ready for the drop off . " Books take up too much space " ??
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Old 07-17-2017, 12:41 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

There is nothing like a good book. My wife reads constantly and has done so all her life. I read less but just finished Finest Hour and last week, another CG thriller. People with "no time for reading" deprive themselves. I do a lot of reading when deer hunting while on stand. If you have to urge reading, you are already too late.
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Old 07-18-2017, 05:01 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

It is hard to answer the actual change in readers. But the product they are given to read is better -- photography, writer language skills, internal color is more affordable for publishers. When I started writing the publication's inside pages were all black and white. Computer writing changed the whole folderal of writers hitting the wrong key. Never thought "white-out" would someday go out of style!
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Old 07-19-2017, 08:09 AM
John_P John_P is offline
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

Yes, and there's more information available for free : )
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Old 07-19-2017, 12:12 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

What seems to be very popular news are the fishing reports like those offered in The Fisherman When reader surveys are conducted the fishing reports lead. Also, my annual fifties count is wildly popular.

I also don't think that outdoor publications contain much fake news like your morning paper. This week, after years of telling readers sugar was bad for them, they came out this week saying sugar substatute is bad.
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Old 07-19-2017, 12:48 PM
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

That's not fake news, Frank. But the nuances are similar to those w.r.t. "pink slime"
and with similar consequences.

That is, the "pink slime" you see coming off your fresh frozen venison burger is *not* the same as the "piink slime" used to manufacture processed meats.

But I digress.

Pertinent to the thread, subtleties are often lost on the press and many, if not most, readers.
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Old 07-19-2017, 03:14 PM
John_P John_P is offline
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

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Originally Posted by Francis Daignault View Post
What seems to be very popular news are the fishing reports like those offered in The Fisherman When reader surveys are conducted the fishing reports lead. Also, my annual fifties count is wildly popular.

I also don't think that outdoor publications contain much fake news like your morning paper. This week, after years of telling readers sugar was bad for them, they came out this week saying sugar substatute is bad.
For what it's worth I subscribe to a wide variety of fishing publications I might not agree with an article or even an editorial view, but it's always fun to read who is saying what.

I have a re-discovered love for the fishing reports.

In my neck of the woods I know many of the people being cited and I know what they are catching and I can also count the dead racks in the dumpster

The reports are a specific reflection of reality whereas there articles largely deal with what might be. And once in a while I'll be impressed if a writer will venture a guess as to why

While I used to curse the inflated reports, now I just apply a discount factor to what was reported to get me in the ballpark of what really happened. The locations are fun because I'll know often some people were and it's fun to hear them say where they were. That's ok, I'd never say the truth either.

Might be just my view but years ago it seemed readers more often believed what was written. Or maybe just seemed that way. Now I hear more from readers who openly joke about crazy or inflated fishing reports
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Old 07-19-2017, 04:30 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: How have Outdoor READERS changed over the last 20-30 years?

There is no question but that readers are experiencing a decline in trust. I consume every word in a fishing publication but laugh at my Boston Globe. We all learn that some information is agendarized . I think today's reader, the subject of this thread by the way, is more sophisticated than their grandfathers.
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