Grumpy Tales – Journalism or Marketing?

me_in_totoNot an interesting question for many of you, I am sure. Or maybe it is? Here’s my continuous dilemma, one that I face on a daily basis, and have done so ever since I started working for simFlight (and simMarket).
Also one that I have so far managed to work with pretty well, supported by my friend and business partner Miguel.

SimFlight is a NEWS web site bringing you independent news about flight simulation, and aviation topics. And one of the agreements its owner and I had from the start is that I would have total freedom in deciding about WHAT gets written on the simFlight sites. Except for some minor things, because simFlight gets paid out of the profit that simMarket makes, and hence depends on simMarket’s health. So obviously and logically there is a mutual and open interest to make new products on simMarket KNOWN to the readers. The exception of free news publishing is hence that simMarket news gets priority and is always on.

Fair enough.

And since I run an add-on publishing company myself, I use my ‘powers’ to promote that company and its products too, of course. In the end, ALL of the important ‘news sites’ work the same way. Not one of them is financed by a wealthy backer who doesn’t expect anything in return. They are either part of a company with an interest, or sponsored by one (or more). No exceptions. And no surprises to any of you, I am sure.
Marketing is good. YOU want to know what products become available, when they do, as much as I do.

But… here’s the rub.
I am also a writer, a journalist (I started my working career at a major newspaper even), an active flightsimmer myself and yes, a grumpy person at times. Like now.
So, I want to be able to tell you that something is rubbish when I see it. That is in YOUR interest, since you don’t want to spend your hard earned cash on crap products.
And I also want to be able to tell you when I am smitten by a product. I am passionate about flightsimming, or I wouldn’t have spent more than 35 years in this business, and I want to convey that passion. Including news of other passionate people or products. Not just sell it.

But it is in simFlight’s interest too.
We want to continue to be seen as an honest publication (or at least I do).
Of course we (our editors and me) can be opinionated. We all have our preferences. You know that. So you take that into account when making up your own mind about stuff we write. At least I hope you do.

But in essence simFlight does NOT sell you golden shit. In essence, it doesn not even wants to report on such, although it sometimes does, sometimes unknowingly.

So where is this going?
Well, I am ‘okay’ with it all as long as we can keep simFlight’s sites OBJECTIVE. And the ‘breadth’ of that objectivity is in the eye of the beholder, obviously.
So far I have been able to. Even though I do marketing services for a number of companies in the industry, not the least that of simMarket.

But if that becomes impossible, if I can’t PRINT my editor’s opinion on certain things anymore, if there appears to be too large of a gap between reporting and advertising, if simFlight would become a mere billboard for just any product that wants to be sold….. then it would mean a downgrading of the publication and loss of its actual value to the hobby.
In my humble opinion.

It would mean I’d have to set up a totally new service where I could again write JUST what I would find interesting. A service that would not be sponsored or financed by ANY party with a vested interest in what I would write. A place where nobody would tell me what NOT to write, especially!
You would then only see my writings as a ‘supplier’ of  ‘news’ in my role as marketing director for other companies, NOT as a news editor and NOT as a reporter.

For objective news and (maybe not so objective) opinion you would then have to add a new link to your bookmarks.

Maybe Grumpy’s FS News?

Actually, that ball is not in my court right now……

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Sunday, December 6, 2009 21:48

sF.COM: Journalism or Marketing? #fb

Monday, December 7, 2009 02:27

simFlight.COM Flight Simulation News Source » Blog Archive …

Paul Laube
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 12:50

Buy shit, get shit works for most anything. Have to do own your research and you get what you pay for. Before I buy I really evaluate things, read things and I started going with reputable vendors. Its about buyer beware. Want cartoons or want close to realism. I complained to one company about their product and after being screwed at Christmas time with gifts to me from my wife with no dvds or cd’s in it I decided no more business to them. They have already been mentioned by someone else. In FS we all got burned in someway… Read more »

Ian P
Tuesday, December 8, 2009 19:37

Incidentally, I don’t separate quality and cost. The two are linked. The more features, the higher the level of detail the more it costs. The less features, the lower the level of detail, the less it costs. Quality is relative to a price bracket and that is simple, undisputable, fact. You can have very good cheap products, you can have very bad cheap products. You can have very good expensive products, you can have very bad expensive products, but that range – the “quality” of a product – is not a fixed feature. An excellent “quality” low price product can… Read more »

Ian P
Tuesday, December 8, 2009 19:32

But again, Simon, what is “acceptable”? I don’t find paying for scenery made from default or third party objects acceptable. The poster above does not find Abacus products acceptable – yet default object scenery is still being made and clearly selling because the authors come back to sell more. Abacus is one of the oldest players in the business and certainly hasn’t gone broke yet. Indeed almost everyone I know in the hobby has at least one of their products running in their sim of choice. A vendor will sell what sells. If a market exists, who are you, I… Read more »