Different Breed Of Magazine

Daryl Kirby | July 29, 2022

Who is your favorite outdoor writer? My favorite changes depending on whether I’m diving into some classic from my bookshelf or reading something in a current issue of GON.

Think about your favorite outdoor writer whose name doesn’t appear in GON, and insert them in this question… “Why doesn’t ‘so-and-so’ write articles for GON?” 

Spend a good bit of time doing anything, and you are likely to hear the same question quite often. That’s one I’ve heard more than few times.

The short answer is… “Because GON does outdoor articles different.”

Here’s an example. A well-known outdoor writer called me and asked if he could write an article for GON about catching striped bass at Lake Lanier. After telling him we had a set rate we could pay for freelance articles, and that as a local Georgia publication our article payment more resembles a gas stipend than a down payment on a Caribbean vacation, he made the case that we should pay him quite a bit more for his articles. I told him we don’t do that—same payment for everyone. That’s when I realized his potential market for selling articles was drying up as outdoor magazines went out of business, because he relented and agreed to write based on our article payment rate.

Then I explained that for a fishing article he would need to go fishing with a local expert. Then I told him he’d have to finish writing the article very quickly, so the info would be timely—so the patterns discussed in the article would produce bites for an angler when GON arrived in the mailbox a week later.

The writer scoffed. 

“That’s not the way it’s done,” he said. “Why would I go through all that trouble for you when I can pull an article from my files and sell it to any other fishing magazine?” 

I said something along the lines of, “Why would we publish an old article pulled out of a filing cabinet that could run in any other fishing magazine?” 

“Because that is the way it is done,” he said. 

That’s not the way GON does it. That well-known writer’s name never appeared in this magazine.

Some of you know this history, but bear with me. Back in the day… 1987 to be exact… Steve Burch created GON by starting with the basic concept of his former employer, Georgia Sportsman magazine, which published mostly Georgia hunting and fishing articles. But Steve turned that concept on its head by publishing only Georgia articles and by printing the magazine on newsprint, so it could be timely. Fishing articles could be written a week or so before readers got the magazine. GON could publish actual news, like time-sensitive threats to sportsmen, legislative updates, stories on record fish or bucks. Other magazines that didn’t use newsprint, like Georgia Sportsman, had to get their articles from writers about six months before the magazine was printed. There was no news, and the articles, although many were about Georgia, were fairly generic and not timely.   

These days, in any business, you better be willing to work hard. Maybe it’s that Southern independence that borders on being just plain stubborn. We were too stubborn, or stupid, to follow a model that had worked for decades for other hunting and fishing magazines. We did some things in ways that had writers and others in the business shaking their heads. It took a ton more work. Thank goodness we had people willing to do that work. Most other outdoor publications are extinct. They are gone forever. 

I think GON is thriving because we are different. That old saying, “That’s just the way it’s done,” is how quality gets degraded. Yes, it is safer to follow others. But sometimes the right call is to be different. I hope folks recognize how different this magazine is from the standard outdoor publication.

So where are the future outdoor writers who will help keep hunting, fishing and conservation a priority in Georgia? Another trademark of GON is our willingness to take brand-new aspiring writers and get them published. If that’s you, email us at [email protected].

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