Legendary snowboard wordsmith Pat Bridges still believes in print media
For longtime readers of this publication, the voice behind these words may seem both alien and familiar. The reason for this is simple: My name is Pat Bridges and for more than two decades I was a staff writer for Snowboarder Magazine (albeit the one without “Jackson Hole” in its name).
I had my byline on more than 100 editorials in that publication over the course of my career. So introducing the faithful to Issue Seventeen of Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine is a welcome opportunity to exercise a literary muscle I hope will never atrophy. It also may help me get early-ups in the tram next time I am in town. When Olaus Linn, Heather Hendricks, and Jeff Moran reached out about this assignment, their guidance was just to convey my perspective on the current state of print media within snowboarding. As a goofy-footed raconteur who hasn’t met a soapbox that wasn’t worth stepping onto, I agreed.
On January 6th, 2021, one day after I resigned from the other Snowboarder, I launched Slush The Magazine. The name itself is a bit of a misnomer because Slush actually includes digital, social, video, and experiential initiatives alongside its print edition (similar to JHSM). I‘m sure that many of my friends, family, and colleagues silently felt that launching any publication in 2021, let alone a snowboarding title, was a fool’s errand. Obviously, I believed that they were wrong and everything that has happened over the course of the last year has only cemented that notion.
“Print is a platform where mediocrity doesn’t make the grade.”
After a decade of perceived decline, print has recently reasserted itself as a crucial touchpoint for snowboard culture. It has done this by becoming one of the most effective ways to get immersed in riding-centric storytelling that is curated with consideration and intent. Print, with its valuable commodity of limited pages and frequency, is a platform where mediocrity doesn’t make the grade. The subconscious strain of metric-driven clickbait isn’t a factor and therefore not devaluing the experience.
For print media to thrive in an omnipresent digital era, it takes discipline, creativity, consistency, and strategic thinking. It also takes a humble understanding that the magazines themselves might not always be the best outlet to engage with every potential rider in your audience. A great online story, viral social post, or unforgettable live event grows your community of supporters and makes them very likely to pick up a copy of your mag somewhere down the line. Similarly, there are a lot of advertisers who currently don’t see a place for print within their marketing efforts. I actually welcome these perspectives because they invigorate our efforts to improve our message, tell richer stories with radder photos, and work harder to grow our audience. We want to make our titles something impossible to ignore.
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That holds true for JHSM too, yet the stakes are a bit different. The sweet spot of local media is to tell the small tales along with the big ones. The magazine you’re holding now uses an intimate lens and focuses on scenes that national publications might ignore. It gives a platform to both new and established creators to publish the stories that inform, celebrate, enrage, and coalesce their community.
Ultimately, any article—and particularly this editorial—that touts the viability of the print experience to you is unnecessary. Because here you are already reading these words, flipping through the features, perusing the pictures, and coming away from the endeavor a little bit smarter and a lot more stoked.
Anyone that says there is no value in that needs to turn the page.