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Bones Of Contention

Tom Scholey offers his opinion of Match Fishing Editor Alex Bones's controversial editorial.

I have watched with interest how  Match Fishing magazine editor Alex Bones’s latest Editorial has been received. For those who haven’t seen it, I would urge you to get hold of a copy. It is largely themed around the negative impact that some internet forum users have on the sport. Do I agree with his comments? Largely, yes.

Granted, the language used is inflammatory- terming people ‘literary bacteria’ is sure to cause some controversy. But isn’t that a good thing? I for one would rather read a gutsy editorial where a journalist is arguing his case (even if it is one that I disagree with) than a spineless waffle about some largely irrelevent issue.

I would go further, and say that in my opinion the majority of Match Fishing readers would agree with Alex’s comments, or at least enjoy reading this editorial more than the ones that have proceeded it.    

Personally speaking, I have had mixed experiences of internet forums in the past. Ironically enough, one of them saw me exchange my first words with Jon Arthur, to who I owe a debt of gratitude for appointing and training me in my current job. At the time, I was editor of the  Fishing4Fun website, and started a thread regarding what I thought to be the very unfair list of invites for the Drennan Knockout Cup. Joe Carass, Andy Geldart, Matt Godfrey and Adam Richards seemed to be winning loads on the matches that I was fishing, but none of them received an invite. A couple of days after the post went live, I received an email from Jon raising an extremely valid point. I can’t remember the exact wording of the message, but the effect of it was that if I felt so strongly about said anglers having an invite, why didn’t I contact him or the then editor Dave Harrell about it rather than having a largely pointless rant online?

I took his point, and to be honest felt a little foolish. I replied to the email, and Jon addressed the problem- most of the anglers that I suggested ended up fishing the competition. Any readers who are aggrieved by Alex’s latest editorial have the option of contacting him directly of course.

Browsing internet forums at other times I have been left appalled by some of the poison that certain so called ‘anglers’ come out with. If you rarely visit these websites be under no illusion- cyber bullying is rife, and if your opinion doesn’t fit with that of the masses you will quickly find yourself alienated, or even victimised.

As Alex quite rightly said though, there is some good that comes out of angling forums. If you are Joe Bloggs wanting to know how to tie a hair rig, or where to fish in West London, you will probably find the help that you need. This may well be in the shape of several conflicting opinions, but by sifting through the posts you have a good chance of finding some kind of sensible answer.

I recently attended an Editorial Conference, and the speaker raised what I think to be a very important point. There will always be a market for edited media, because when you pick up a magazine you get a quality, informed product that a team of trained, professional people have taken time to put together. The opinions cited are those of experts, with a wealth of experience to draw upon. By contrast, the internet will give you the opinions of everybody, some admittedly very qualified to comment, and some who to be frank, don’t have a clue what they are talking about. It is your choice whose voice you choose to listen to.

Tom Scholey 

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