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Last week two icons from my formative years sadly passed away. Eddie van Halen and BIKE Magazine. Both were anthems of my youth who literally shaped a big part of who I am today. Both were innovative for their time, inspiring, and all class through and through.
Perhaps one day in the not-so-distant future Eddie van Halen could have been saved. Treatments for cancer are getting better rather than worse. However, BIKE Magazine and the direction of media is not trending in that direction. The business model of advertising has fallen over with Google and Facebook/Instagram and it’s influencers taking up the lion’s share of advertising revenue.
Chicken or egg?
Poor coverage of #womenscycling
=less$ for coverage
&less pay for riders
Stop pointing the finger
Start taking responsibility.
We want 2C women racing! Cover it! #uciwwt @amylaurenjones @cyclingtips https://t.co/2LqTBLkkf6
— Ruth Stewart (@RaatusRuth) October 5, 2020
This is perhaps the biggest and most lingering misunderstanding of the media business. More stories equals more audience equals more advertisers who say ‘shut up and take our money’. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Especially for important topics such as women’s cycling that have an important impact on equality and shining the spotlight on role models for young people to be inspired by.
Still Instagram, YouTube, Google and Facebook gobbles up the lion’s share of media spend, meanwhile they hold no accountability or responsibly towards important issues that face our sport, and aren’t even held to standard. They are the ones who have been killed the likes of BIKE Magazine, Dirt Rag, RIDE and many other quality publications who take responsibility for their content. Watch the documentary The Social Dilemma and you’ll get a glimpse into these platforms and what they’ve created.
The business model of online media needs to change in order for it to survive and to get better. Lowering the standard so it suits social media’s algorithms is a real incentive. But we know that is no the answer and we need to raise the level of our overall readership, not lower our standard.
Four years ago we took a deep breath and launched our membership program, VeloClub, which we knew was the answer to turning this around. This wasn’t as simple as tacking on a ‘pay us’ button and it was happy days. It has consumed us for every minute of every day and we had to change our entire mindset of what we do. Those who have not switched to this mindset are destined to fail and I’m thrilled to see our friends at Strava, VeloNews, Bicycling, Road.cc adopting this change.
What do you get for being a member of VeloClub? You get the satisfaction that you’re giving back to the sport by enabling us to do our jobs to the best of our ability, uninfluenced. our contribution keeps it free for everyone, because cycling has enough barriers already. You’re realigning the incentives such that we work for you, the reader.
Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?