Today we are swamped with digital media whether that be social media, in the form of interactive discussion or websites designed to inform. Very little of this material is prepared with any third-party editing or checking. Indeed, what you are reading here is just the result of me sitting here typing away and giving you my thoughts on the world of angling. I do try and write in proper English and check my spelling, but I do make mistakes, and I continually update the blog if a mistake is spotted by me or anyone else. These sort of errors are easy to correct and are (or should be) forgiven as the message is usually understood.
Social media is full of misspellings, bad grammar and often devoid of any punctuation except from the over-uses of the ellipsis (something I am guilty of...) and explanation mark! This matters not, on social media as this is no more than electronic 'Pub-talk', discussion and argument in a two-way forum, after all, this is a free and open discussion. It should be taken as such, and any validity of fact be taken at face value. It is when we find such things in the printed word it seems more worrying.
When I was first involved in publishing in the early 1970s, the old traditions were starting to change. We were still printing all our publications using the traditional letterpress process. This involved using lead type and all manner of specialist trades from compositors and block-makers to highly trained and skilled camera operators that made the film separations to produce horrifically expensive four-colour printing blocks. It was a trade and a closely guarded one at that, some would say too much so. Getting into 'the print' required a long apprenticeship and a lot of dedication. It was not long before this started to change. The newspaper industry was held in a grip by the unions and had been reluctant to modernise. This foot-dragging resulted in a powder-keg of tension that, when it did eventually release, set free a rapid and sensational change to the way things happened. The skills that had been learnt over generations were redundant within a decade or so.
Letterpress printing was replaced with the lithographic process, but the most significant changes were to be seen in the pre-press areas of design and production of printing plates. A whole section of the traditional print trade was to suffer a fatal wound with the development of digital imaging and the use of desktop publishing. In what seemed to be no time at all the entire reprographic industry became redundant. Skills such as 'colour planning' (the assembly of film and colour separations into a set of films ready to make printing plates from) once, one of the highest paid areas of pre-press production, became unnecessary. Today, I can do all the design, pre-press colour separations from the same machine I am using to produce this blog. Initially, a lot of the guys who were planning film moved over to computers bringing their understanding of the process with them. Sadly, this is not the case today as more and more of the 'old school' guys have moved on into retirement.
Without this technology advance, most of the periodicals would have gone long ago. There was a time when advertising paid for the production and magazines had to sell many tens of thousands of magazines to make a profit. Today, the cost of production is so much less, and the cover price is much higher, advertising is not so relevant or so readily secured. Periodicals can survive on just a few thousand sales. You will find that publishing houses are either small one-man-band affairs or they will have a team working on several different titles, writing material, and using fewer outside contributors. The same low cost also means that books can be published very much easier.
The upshot of all this means that, in a lot of cases, quality is compromised. I have written books, hundreds of magazine articles and been an editor of both books and magazines over the past forty-plus years. The books I wrote were sub-edited for general readability, spelling and grammar by someone else and read for the accuracy of content by at least one other who knows the subject. I would read the books several times myself, making further corrections to make it as easy to read and understand as possible. A similar exercise would be undertaken for the magazine articles. None of this happens to the words I write here and, as a consequence, no doubt you will find mistakes in this post.
Today, too many books and publications are produced on the cheap. The standard of writing, quality of images and lack of any continuity make it hard to follow, especially for a novice. As I have said before, all this can be forgiven or at least understood when it is free material put out in good faith. When bad (budget?) material is presented in hard-copy, or for download, with a price tag attached, it is not really acceptable.
What's the answer? Well, I am not really sure. As a novice, I found it really hard to get sound information. I have bought several magazines regularly over the past three years, and although initially, in my ignorance, the advice all seemed good, I eventually realised that most of the articles were blatant product placement. The books, with a few exceptions, are not much better.
At the moment I am trying to get some reliable information about predator fishing. I have not been able to get out onto the bank recently due to a significant dose of what has been designated 'man-flu', by my missus. The books and magazine I have been reading have helped and do give the information, but they take some reading in places. I am sure good books are available, but there does seem to be a lot of poorly put together publications out there making it hard to find reliable information.
Armed with the information I have managed to glean so far, I think I am ready to give predator fishing, or to be more specific, pike fishing, a go once I have secured a few more bits of tackle. With a little experience under my belt, maybe the written word I have invested in will start to make more sense. I am not at all sure that is how it should be.