From Andy at JG Machinery
I got this note from Andy Shook at JG Machinery:
How does political commentary relate to wood and woodworking? People go to a wood magazine to be informed about the Wood Industry. People go to news site, papers or TV for political commentary.
It is worth a thoughtful response:
Thank you for your interest, and thanks for your “onion” question. Let’s peel back the layers one at a time.
First, politics has everything to do with the wood industry, all the way from the eco-science of felling trees to VOCs, minimum wages and safety. Politics has to do with consumer protection and marketing, and politics has to do with interstate and international commerce. I accept that our industry has been taught to disregard politics in our media, but you have to accept that the people carrying that message lack education, experience and the ability to engage effectively in political communication. The fact is, we need politically effective media in our industry if we wish to survive on our terms instead of somebody else’s.
Second, while I recognize and respect your input, it appears you are not legitimately a “reader” of Wood Industry. You appear to be a supplier – that is, a seller of products to our readers. As such, your relationship to the readers is predator/prey. It is my job to be referee. Unfortunately, commercial interests such as machinery sales have long sought to control the message in media, and, over time, they have been fairly effective. There is scarcely an independent voice in the media remaining. Some current examples of commercial attempts to control media include Homag and Biesse, who entered into an effort to control our competitors and kill us, leaving themselves as apex predators in control of communication, much to the disadvantage of such companies as JG Machinery. They don’t advertise to my readers, and I don’t kiss their feet. It goes back to that idea of education, experience and communication.
Third, regarding where people go for information, my readers tell me in our annual surveys that they go to Wood Industry for their information, including political communication. That is because we, like it or not, are unique and independent. While our competitors punch the Send button on their spam list like a troupe of post-Pavlovian orangutans, dutifully churning out news releases on what award Biesse got this week or what seminar Homag is presenting, we do actual business-to-business articles that we research on our own. We write about environment, economy, labor, costs of compliance, marketing and so on. We do NOT do quid-pro-quo editorial insertions up the readers’ attention spans, and we do NOT repurpose other people’s content in a show of how compliant we are with the Gregorian drone of “the industry.”
Oh, and we publish one column per issue on whatever I think is interesting.
Fourth layer: I know my readers. I occasionally get letters such as yours objecting to my “right” or duty to talk about whatever I determine is proper in my magazines. Interestingly, those letters are virtually always from machinery salesmen. I say “virtually” because there was a custom guitar maker in Toronto about 15 years ago, and there may have been another one or two. The point is, my readers are virtually ALL independent, family-owned businesses. As such, they either have the political and economic profile that I address, or they understand it. As a salesman, this should be of value to you and your associates, since all these years you may have been making incorrect assumptions about the interests and values of your customers. If you evaluate this, and if it’s true (and it is), then regional salesmen for minor product lines all the way up to Biesse and Homag can benefit from a new understanding of their markets, and there is no charge from me for the education. Our loyal advertisers understand this, and that is why they advertise in Wood Industry.
Finally, if people are going to “news sites, papers or TV for political commentary,” they are likely getting propaganda instead. Commentary depends upon independence, and the days of an independent media are largely past. Even the most colorful commentators are subject to firing or boycott if they offend the sensibilities of the board room denizens, or, if that doesn’t work, they are brought to heel by threats of decades-past allegations and innuendo. Commercial interests amalgamated the news in the ‘70s and we are rapidly headed toward a society in which all information is corroborated by Wikipedia.
Thanks, again for your interest, and I hope I have answered your question thoroughly. Please feel free to clarify or query if any points are unclear or incomplete.