This bullhorn is yours

Kerry Knudsen

There are many things that are irksome about the media — irksome in the sense of dangerous. If you don’t watch out, you will discover the hard way that the media, as it is currently composed, is the biggest threat to freedom — yes, even freedom of speech — that exists on the planet.

One of things that is most irksome is that a few over-endowed, under-civilized media have decided they have a bullhorn and you need to listen.

No matter what. If they could, they would place the bullhorn under your pillow and blast you awake at 3:30 a.m. to give you a dose of whatever they are selling. That is why we had to create laws against spam within a few years of its being invented. That is why there is an increasing demand for ad blockers.

One of the things that I find most irksome about Wood Industry magazine is its website. For over two decades, we have made every effort to produce a magazine and digital products that are interactive. We have always provided a direct means of communication between the reader and the writer, but the bullhorn remained. It has been basically a one-way medium with a one-lane response. And the coup de grâce: just like all the rest.

Not good.

Another thing that is not good is the self-congratulatory message we see in editorials, claiming “an all-new website,” or a “redesign.” As if anybody cares about a redesign. Seriously. Granted, a good redesign, either of a magazine or a website, can enhance the user’s experience. In addition, a good redesign is the product of hours of thought and labour between and among art, editorial, sales and management. It is not easy.

Nonetheless, it should look easy, and it should be invisible in the user’s transition from the old design to the new. So if it’s invisible and great, I guess something must be said, irrespective of how irksome.

So… we did it. A totally new web design and a totally new concept.

It is our belief that the reader, not the magazine, should have the bullhorn. That is actually why circulation audits matter. They prove the reader exists.

When you visit www.woodindustry.ca, you will see we have cleaned up the design a bit and made access to each area more obvious. This is a “normal” redesign.

However, you will notice a feature on the right called Ask-It Basket. This is a signal that you can take charge.

If you have a question (or a rant) you would like to address to the wood industry, you can click there, and Bob’s your uncle. You can ask about employment, find workers, sell used supplies or give me hell for mocking Justin Trudeau.

This is the front end of a bulletin board system that is exclusively for manufacturers of wood products, but it is NOT like LinkedIn or others. We will not collect your data or turn it into a podium for itinerate speakers.

If this works, it will be a place to organize trips or consolidate trade ideas. You can find out what others are paying in B.C. or Newfoundland for goods or services, assuming you can get them to answer. It will be a place to coordinate communications projects if we need to get the attention of Parliament. And it will be a place to meet people with similar concerns and arrange private, off-line communications. To accomplish this, we will ask for a standard log-in, and we will use that information to assign you a “role.”

That way, each of us will know something of the other posters. Suppliers, media and government will have access to the discussions, but will be identified as suppliers, media and government, simply because their agendas may be motivated by other variables than your own.

The idea of a bulletin board is not new. The idea of integrating a reader-driven narrative into an international magazine site is either new, or we can’t find another.

This is a relatively small industry, and we should be able to use this idea, add to it, take from it and make suggestions for change without being overwhelmed by volume.

On the other hand, it may simply fade into obscurity, such as is painfully obvious in the bullhorn sites. So this bullhorn is yours.

See you in Hotlanta.