By Adam DeSanctis,
Eastern Ski Writers Association 2007-2008 Intern
Snowsports Communication: “Turning” in a Different Direction

A recent advertisement for Apple Inc.’s luxurious gadget, the “iPhone,” effectively depicts the role technology is having on every demographic. “What’s so great about having the internet in your pocket?” says the clever ad.  “Well, then you can see the trail map when you’re on the mountain.” Of course, it would be just as facile to slip off your gloves, reach into your pocket, and snag the brochure-like map available in stacks in the lodge.  However, whipping out the $200 phone, logging onto the internet to find that challenging diamond trail, all while saving a few trees is certainly more “cool” by today’s standards.

Apple’s commercial is another reminder of the substantial influence online technology is having on our culture, especially persons under the age of 25.  Because technology is allowing people to become more “user-selective” in regards to their exposure to media; many journalists, specifically those in snowsports, are dedicating an increasing amount of effort into online publications.

The advantages of web-based content for snowsports journalism are insurmountable.  Creating a website for online publication serves a particular audience more precisely than print publications.  Websites allow journalists to write towards a more specialized audience and use jargon that would not be as easily understood to a general reader. 

Mitch Kaplan, a freelance ski writer for www.kidznsnow.com, saw firsthand the benefits of web-based journalism and became the content editor for the site.KIDZNSNOW “Having raised kids as a skier and snowboarder, I’d been writing about family ski and travel for several years,” says Kaplan.  “The lure for me was the site’s focused topic [information for families who ski and the opportunity to expand my outlets outweighed all other factors, including pay.”

Web-blogs, or specifically “blogs,” have hit the mainstream media by storm.  Blogs allow journalists, or anyone for that matter, to combine texts, images and other links to provide commentary or news on a particular subject.  Newspaper print companies, in a last-ditch effort to attract young readers, have resorted to the interactive nature of blogs to help resuscitate the declining industry.

“Although I’m a long-time, hardcore newspaper guy, I realize that newspapers are no longer the way the majority of people get their news and information.  If I want to stay relevant, the internet is the way to go,” says Martin Griff, snowsports columnist for the Trenton Times and recent inventor of his own blog.

Griff’s blog, www.blog.nj.com/skiing, is updated daily and features tidbits of information and colorful photos of his and other’s experiences on mountains throughout the country. Users have the accessibility to write comments under Griff’s posts and discuss their own experiences.  These discussions, as well as the fact any post can be retrieved through archives, gives exposure to snowsports and resorts in particular.  The exposure intrigues readers to visit mountains they may never have planned on visiting in the past. 

“I’ve found that the blog has many advantages over newspapers.  First, it’s world wide; one doesn’t have to live near [Trenton] to read it.  Also, the immediacy of a blog is crucial,” added Griff.  “My newspaper column runs on Thursdays, so if I find out snowports news on a Friday, it may be old news by the following Thursday.  With the blog, I can disseminate news instantly.”

World Communications
Another phenomenon to hit mainstream media has been the evolution of YouTube.  Created three years ago, YouTube allows users to upload, view, and share video clips on subjects ranging from actual TV shows to amateur snowboarders “grinding” rails.  As of February 25, 2008, there were 74.1M videos available on the website.

Brian Bossuyt, Director of Sales and Marketing at Camelback Mountain in Pennsylvania, understood the impact YouTube has had on people under the age of 25 and has used it to his advantage by posting a “general information” video on the mountain’s website.

“YouTube presents a great opportunity to get our name out,” says Bossuyt.  “We linked all the key words such as ‘ski’ and ‘mountain’ to our name, so viewers on YouTube can arrive to our videos many different ways.”

“The fact that our mountain has the ability to put out visual media to the public for free is amazing,” Bossuyt adds. 

Marshall McLuhan, author of Understanding Media, says “Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication.” 

In other words, buy an iPhone, become a fan of a blog and watch clips on YouTube because technology is shaping the nature of media as fast as that narrow, double-black diamond trail will ride and it will continue to change.

“Who the [heck] knows what kind of technology we’ll be carrying around in our pockets in the next 10 years,” says Kaplan.  “The possibilities are endless.”
                       

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