What’s Up With That?
I don’t read magazines or newspapers. I don’t read much on the Internet, unless I am researching something and most of the time you can’t trust what you read. I do, as time permits, read a few backpacking blogs, mostly those based in the UK, and especially a few Scottish hill walkers (apparently they don’t call themselves backpackers). What appeals to me about these UK walkers is the usually dreadful weather they walk in, their propensity to ignore bad weather, and their blog posts seem to focus more on their trips; not their gear.
It has been a while since the big “blow out” over the TGO awards, but I just read about it because I was on vacation for an extended period, during which time all of this transpired.
The Great Outdoors, or sometimes it is simply referred to as TGO, is a popular UK print and online magazine. I have read a couple of free articles from TGO and it seems to be a quality publication. In the US, many backpackers may be familiar with the yearly TGO Challenge, a walk across Scotland that this sponsored by TGO. After my year end vacation, I was surprised to see there was quite a controversy over the annual TGO awards.
Apparently TGO has an annual contest to identify the best gear of the year and some other award categories. The magazine vets the nominees and the public votes for their favorite. Seems many TGO readers were upset with the best blog winner and supposedly some really nasty stuff was posted on social media. I don’t have Farcebook or Tweeter, so I can’t confirm this nor am I interested. The whole thing is sad.
Here is the problem with any kind of an award – someone will figure out a way to kink the system, so the awards usually become worthless. In the US, in its early days, Backpacker Magazine was a fine periodical and generally unbiased. Then they ran out of new stuff to write, started doing award type stories to keep circulation up, lost all objectivity (remember award winners and losers are potential advertisers and income streams). Today, in my opinion, Backpacker Magazine has lost all relevance and has probably done more to damage our wild places than anything or anyone. What you say? Backpacker is bad? Yes. Perhaps unintended consequences. Every time they write an article about a rarely visited wonderful place to hike, the hordes of Backpacker faithful inundate the place and ruin it.
Awards are generally a bad thing and we should dismiss, ignore, and condemn them.
So to my favorite writers in the UK; forget all the awards (whether they be TGO or something else). Just go out and walk like you have been and keep writing great blog posts. And next year when TGO does the awards thing, just ignore them.