Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Wheel/Journalistic Ethics Review, Or, Why Skateboard Product Reviews Have Always Sucked

For decades, skateboard magazines have dealt mostly in celebrity.  Skaters buy mags to see and read about the exploits of famous skaters, not to get practical information that helps them skate. Sure, there are occasionally gear reviews and trick tips, but these are inevitably useless.  Skateboarding is not a spectator sport, our culture is driven almost 100% by actual participants, yet our mags are basically selling spectatorship. Compare that with the mags that serve cyclists and runners or particpants in any other physical hobby: in other disciplines, the media is driven by things like training tips and comically exhaustive equipment previews and reviews. Nobody would buy a copy of Runner’s World if it was nothing but pictures of famous runners doing laps, but that’s kind of what skaters re doing when they buy a copy of Thrasher or Transworld.

The last thing I want is for Thrasher to mutate into Golf Digest, but I’ve always felt that there is a place for something more “rider-oriented”, in skating. Figuring out how to do this, however, is not so simple, and plunges a writer deep into the weird, murky depths of skating’s unique nature, revealing just how complex and substantive skateboarding really is.