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What is happening to AW?!

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What is happening to AW?!

Postby Rex68 » Sat Jan 24, 2009 1:59 pm

Am I the only one who seems to have noticed how repetitive AW has been in recent months? It's generally accepted that it's not the mag it was back in the 80s/90s - and that is probably due in part to athletics simply being more popular back then. But that shouldn't stop AW from producing better features and content.

To illustrate my point:
- There has been around four features on Mara Yamauchi in the past 2-3 years. What about the other British female distance runners? The last Pavey one was probably around 2005 and I can't recall any recent features on the Yellings or Clitheroe even Kate Reed (perhaps the most 'intriguing' - for all the wrong reasons - of the Brit female endurance runners).

- Since winning the Commonwealth title in 2006, Nick Willis has been featured around three times now. He's a decent athlete, but not so fascinating that he deserves three features! What did the second and third features tell us that the first one didn't? How about a feature with the enigmatic Rashid Ramzi? Or the up-and-coming Asbel Kiprop? Or the two-time Europ champ Baala?

- A few other athletes seem to have been featured twice in the past year - Tasha Danvers, Tia Hellebaut, Sanya Richards, Blanka Vlasic (her second piece even used the same images - it was almost identical!), etc. Tirunesh Dibaba has been featured two or three times, but has Meseret Defar ever had one feature?

I wouldn't mind the doubling up in interviews if their stories were significantly different between the first and second (and third), but most of the time they're not. And all the time these athletes are getting their second or third feature, there are DOZENS of athletes who are far more interesting and intriguing who have never been featured in AW.

The Lewis Hamilton piece was also a bit odd. It wasn't as disastrous as the free running piece, but it was blatantly clear that it was driven by advertising with all the reebok logos plastered all over it. And it failed to mention Hamilton's most obvious link to athletics - the fact that he was named after Carl Lewis!

The mistakes recently have also been staggering. The "Mutola heading here" was a right clanger, but also there have been loads of wrongly captioned images, wrong times printed (I'm sure one of the recent issues said Bolt's world record was 9.68!). And don't even get me started on the iPod advert fiasco - what a complete farce!

I'm not a subscriber (although I used to be back in the 80s and early 90s), I usually just buy it from WHSmith. But when I pick it up, flick through the contents and see a load of mistakes and repetitive content, then most weeks I just don't bother buying it. I do want to buy it more regularly - after all, it's the only mag of its kind in Britain - but I can only justify doing that if it improves. Come on, AW - what's up with all of this?
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Postby roseben » Sat Jan 24, 2009 3:04 pm

Sadly, a great deal of truth in your comments. I cannot breakl the habit of over 50 years and stop buying it on subscription
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Postby simonlangley » Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:38 pm

What actually happened with the Ipod ad? I saw something on the website saying it was being investigated by the police??
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Postby Eddie » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:34 am

I was a subscriber for years up until the end of last year. In the past I'd devour it from cover to cover, often with a highlighter and a pair of scissors. In the last year or so when AW arrived on a Thursday I'd skim through it for five minutes and then it sat where I left it for the rest of the week. It made me realise I wasn't actually reading it. So I let the subscription lapse. I miss it up until the point when I look through the contents of the current magazines on the AW website. So why am I no longer a subscriber:

* I can't think of any of the current crop of GB internationals who inspire me or whose performances excite me.
* UKA's apparent lack of concern for the grass roots of athletics. The continuing lack of a decent coach education programme is an obvious example and something which I feel will come back to haunt them in the future. While this is nothing to do with AW it does affect my attitude to athletics in general.
* The wealth of information on the web. But that's been there for years and you can't really beat seeing something in print on paper.
* Maybe it is more simple. I stopped competing years ago so I can no longer get the rare chance of seeing my name in AW. Similarly I now coach seniors and not juniors. Many of them don't compete as much or feature in the results as much. A personal response.

What could AW do? A few suggestions:
* Avoid being bland. Go for nitty gritty details of training and racing, with plenty of hows and whys. Less of the "what is on your Ipod" approach.
* More photos of the people away from the front of races.
* More photos of ordinary races from around the country - not just the few tucked away in the results section.
* More coaching articles - the sort of stuff you want to cut out and keep - put them on the four middle pages so they can be easily extracted.

That will do for now. Any other suggestions?

I really do wish Jason and his crew success with AW. I'll keep looking and maybe even take out another subscription to keep tabs on it. :D

Eddie
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Re: What is happening to AW?!

Postby nevetssllim » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:51 pm

Rex68 wrote:To illustrate my point:
- There has been around four features on Mara Yamauchi in the past 2-3 years. What about the other British female distance runners? The last Pavey one was probably around 2005 and I can't recall any recent features on the Yellings or Clitheroe even Kate Reed (perhaps the most 'intriguing' - for all the wrong reasons - of the Brit female endurance runners).

- Since winning the Commonwealth title in 2006, Nick Willis has been featured around three times now. He's a decent athlete, but not so fascinating that he deserves three features! What did the second and third features tell us that the first one didn't? How about a feature with the enigmatic Rashid Ramzi? Or the up-and-coming Asbel Kiprop? Or the two-time Europ champ Baala?

- A few other athletes seem to have been featured twice in the past year - Tasha Danvers, Tia Hellebaut, Sanya Richards, Blanka Vlasic (her second piece even used the same images - it was almost identical!), etc. Tirunesh Dibaba has been featured two or three times, but has Meseret Defar ever had one feature?


In all fairness, surely Yamauchi deserves more coverage than the athletes that you mention? She has a very interesting background as well and besides, there was an article about Liz Yelling about four-months ago.

Yes, there hasn't been an article about Ramzi but there has been one about Maryam Jamal, yes there hasn't been one on Absel Kiprop, but there have been ones on Rudisha, Jelimo and Nyaruai, not to mention a four-page article on Lornah Kiplagat!

Defar has been on the front-cover twice and surely Dibaba's success merits more coverage?!
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Re: What is happening to AW?!

Postby Rex68 » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:11 pm

nevetssllim wrote:
Rex68 wrote:To illustrate my point:
- There has been around four features on Mara Yamauchi in the past 2-3 years. What about the other British female distance runners? The last Pavey one was probably around 2005 and I can't recall any recent features on the Yellings or Clitheroe even Kate Reed (perhaps the most 'intriguing' - for all the wrong reasons - of the Brit female endurance runners).

- Since winning the Commonwealth title in 2006, Nick Willis has been featured around three times now. He's a decent athlete, but not so fascinating that he deserves three features! What did the second and third features tell us that the first one didn't? How about a feature with the enigmatic Rashid Ramzi? Or the up-and-coming Asbel Kiprop? Or the two-time Europ champ Baala?

- A few other athletes seem to have been featured twice in the past year - Tasha Danvers, Tia Hellebaut, Sanya Richards, Blanka Vlasic (her second piece even used the same images - it was almost identical!), etc. Tirunesh Dibaba has been featured two or three times, but has Meseret Defar ever had one feature?


In all fairness, surely Yamauchi deserves more coverage than the athletes that you mention? She has a very interesting background as well and besides, there was an article about Liz Yelling about four-months ago.

Yes, there hasn't been an article about Ramzi but there has been one about Maryam Jamal, yes there hasn't been one on Absel Kiprop, but there have been ones on Rudisha, Jelimo and Nyaruai, not to mention a four-page article on Lornah Kiplagat!

Defar has been on the front-cover twice and surely Dibaba's success merits more coverage?!


Yamauchi might deserve more coverage than the other UK female distance athletes, but four features worth of coverage?! What did the third and fourth pieces tell us that the first two didn't? That space would have been better used to feature any one of the dozens of world/Olympic champions who have not yet graced the pages of AW. How about Wanjiru, Brimin Kipruto, Dayron Robles, Andrey Silnov, Steve Hooker, Nelson Evora, Tomasz Majewski, Primoz Kozmus, Francoise Mbango, Barbora Spotakova, Franka Dietzsch, etc. Or some of the more surprising winners in Beijing that not many people know much about - i.e. Nancy Langat, Dawn Harper, Shelly-Ann Fraser, Oksana Menkova, Natalya Dobrynska, etc... I don't know for sure if these haven't been featured (like I say, I mainly flick through the mag in WHS and rarely buy it any more) but I'd rather read about these kinds of athletes than Nick bloody Willis again.

Apart from coming from the same country, what has Jamal got to do with Ramzi? Same goes for the link with Kiprop and the other Kenyans you mention. I was comparing Ramzi/Kiprop with Willis because they compete in the same event - i.e. if AW is going to feature a 1500m runner, why not start with the gold/silver medallists from Beijing, instead of interviewing the bronze medallist who has already been featured twice?! And re: Dibaba/Defar, yes Dibaba has achieved more, but Defar was still the world female athlete of 2007! Did she have an in-depth feature that year?

All I'm saying is, before AW consider re-interviewing a particular athlete, why not think about trying one of the more deserving athletes who hasn't yet been featured? And hopefully with a few less glaring errors...
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Postby nevetssllim » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:24 pm

If AW did features on Kiprop, Willis and Ramzi, then we would have people moaning that all we do is features on 1500m.

And I doubt AW have contacts to every single Olympic champion.
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Postby Rex68 » Mon Jan 26, 2009 7:32 pm

nevetssllim wrote:If AW did features on Kiprop, Willis and Ramzi, then we would have people moaning that all we do is features on 1500m.


And I doubt AW have contacts to every single Olympic champion.


You've missed the point completely. I was using the Willis scenario as an example (i.e. if they're going to feature a 1500m runner, why Willis again instead of Ramzi/Kiprop). I'm not saying they should only feature 1500m runners - far from it! Look at the list of athletes I mentioned in my previous post!

It may be tricky tracking down the athletes directly, but if done through the agents/managers/federations, then interviews are relatively easy to arrange. Or - now here's a thought - why not interview them after they won their events in Beijing/Osaka?! I presume AW had a couple of reporters out there...?
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Postby Sportsman29 » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:09 pm

Interviewing them after Beijing / Osaka and already the interviews would be 6 months out of date.
Not all global athletes speak great English, might be difficult to actually interview them. Can't imagine the budget that athletics weekley runs on is a great deal, so translators and interpreters would be expensive week after week.

Added to the fact that athletes some athletes you mentioned purely may not want to give an interview without a fee ?? Is it worth them giving up their time for a British magazine that they probably never read.

It is easier to contact athletes and arrange meets with people like yamauchi, Willis etc as they spend part of their year actually in Britain, along with obviously British athletes.

You spoke about the repetitiveness of Yamauchi, but actually her story is more interesting than that of many other athletes and so personally i had no problem seeing her focused on more regularly.

I actually think AW do well in publishing the stories that actually even with the internet you sometimes don't hear of.

And IMO it is a little cheap to critisize the magazine when you don't actually spend your money on it, rather stand and read in WHS Smith before putting it back down....
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Postby Kermit » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:37 pm

Or the library
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Postby Rex68 » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:05 am

Sportsman29 wrote:Interviewing them after Beijing / Osaka and already the interviews would be 6 months out of date.
Not all global athletes speak great English, might be difficult to actually interview them. Can't imagine the budget that athletics weekley runs on is a great deal, so translators and interpreters would be expensive week after week.

Added to the fact that athletes some athletes you mentioned purely may not want to give an interview without a fee ?? Is it worth them giving up their time for a British magazine that they probably never read.

It is easier to contact athletes and arrange meets with people like yamauchi, Willis etc as they spend part of their year actually in Britain, along with obviously British athletes.

You spoke about the repetitiveness of Yamauchi, but actually her story is more interesting than that of many other athletes and so personally i had no problem seeing her focused on more regularly.

I actually think AW do well in publishing the stories that actually even with the internet you sometimes don't hear of.

And IMO it is a little cheap to critisize the magazine when you don't actually spend your money on it, rather stand and read in WHS Smith before putting it back down....
I understand all those difficulties, but still there are HUNDREDS of athletes out there with interesting stories to be told. And so what if features are put on hold after Beijing? It's not like track and field athletes would be up to much during the winter months. And if they are, then it only takes a quick email/call to their agent to see if there have been any noteworthy developments since the interview.

Re: your last point, I do buy AW sometimes (once every 3 or 4 weeks) and I used to subscribe. Instead of AW doing reader surveys, I am exactly the kind of person that AW should be surveying, and asking the reasons why I don't subscribe anymore. I saved them the trouble of asking by creating this thread.
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Postby Flumpy » Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:31 am

Eddie wrote:A few suggestions:
* Avoid being bland. Go for nitty gritty details of training and racing, with plenty of hows and whys. Less of the "what is on your Ipod" approach.
* More photos of the people away from the front of races.
* More photos of ordinary races from around the country - not just the few tucked away in the results section.
* More coaching articles - the sort of stuff you want to cut out and keep - put them on the four middle pages so they can be easily extracted.



Strangely that's exactly the sort of stuff that would put me off AW completely.

Why on earth would anyone want to see photos of people away from the front of the races???

Amongst other things I'd like to see a weekly "Where Are They Now' column. There are hundreds of great athletes from the past who retire and we never hear from again. I'd love to know what forgotten legends are up to these days and I don't just mean British middle distance men, couldn't someone track down the surviving Press sister!!!

Also in order to keep people interested in the dreary winter months we need a steady stream of feature articles about the biggest stars in World athletics. One British and 1 international a week at least. Posters wouldn't go amiss and I don't mean ones of nobodies running pointless cross country races like we've had over the last few years.

I also wish that the whole magazine would stand up and take more of a stance on various issues. Jason's editorials sometimes do this but on the whole everything is very bland and careful not to offend anyone. All of the best publications whatever genre they may be in aren't afraid to ruffle some feathers and stand up for what they believe in.

That'll do for now.
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Postby Flumpy » Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:34 am

nevetssllim wrote:
And I doubt AW have contacts to every single Olympic champion.


I think it would take about 10 minutes on the tinterweb or you could always get me and mump to accost them at a champs :D
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Postby plyometric » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:02 am

the 'where are they now' ran for a short while but i think for us older readers it would be gratefully recieved if it came back.
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Postby Flumpy » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:06 pm

plyometric wrote:the 'where are they now' ran for a short while but i think for us older readers it would be gratefully recieved if it came back.


They used to have one years ago but it was always of really obscure British people who once won a BUSA champs. I really didn't care where they were now.

I don't think it's just older readers who would be interested. I started reading AW when I was about 13 and would have loved to hear about past legends then as I'm sure nevs would now.
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Postby nevetssllim » Sat Jan 31, 2009 1:13 am

Rex68 wrote:
nevetssllim wrote:Or - now here's a thought - why not interview them after they won their events in Beijing/Osaka?! I presume AW had a couple of reporters out there...?


Do you honestly believe it is that easy?!
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Postby nevetssllim » Sat Jan 31, 2009 1:15 am

Flumpy wrote:
Eddie wrote:A few suggestions:
* Avoid being bland. Go for nitty gritty details of training and racing, with plenty of hows and whys. Less of the "what is on your Ipod" approach.
* More photos of the people away from the front of races.
* More photos of ordinary races from around the country - not just the few tucked away in the results section.
* More coaching articles - the sort of stuff you want to cut out and keep - put them on the four middle pages so they can be easily extracted.



Strangely that's exactly the sort of stuff that would put me off AW completely.

Why on earth would anyone want to see photos of people away from the front of the races???

Amongst other things I'd like to see a weekly "Where Are They Now' column. There are hundreds of great athletes from the past who retire and we never hear from again. I'd love to know what forgotten legends are up to these days and I don't just mean British middle distance men, couldn't someone track down the surviving Press sister!!!


I'm surprised you and Mump haven't tracked down the surviving Press sister! :P
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Postby nevetssllim » Sat Jan 31, 2009 1:19 am

Flumpy wrote:
plyometric wrote:the 'where are they now' ran for a short while but i think for us older readers it would be gratefully recieved if it came back.


They used to have one years ago but it was always of really obscure British people who once won a BUSA champs. I really didn't care where they were now.

I don't think it's just older readers who would be interested. I started reading AW when I was about 13 and would have loved to hear about past legends then as I'm sure nevs would now.


Yes, I've got most AW magazines from the 1980s and there was a great in-depth interview with Helena Fibingerova but I doubt anyone, bar about nine people would be interested in that. There was another good one on Ingrid Kristiansen and then Tamira Bykova.
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Postby Rex68 » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:54 am

nevetssllim wrote:
Rex68 wrote:Or - now here's a thought - why not interview them after they won their events in Beijing/Osaka?! I presume AW had a couple of reporters out there...?


Do you honestly believe it is that easy?!


Athletes have to walk through the mixed zone after their events to talk to the media, so yes it is quite easy. And if they miss them in the mixed zone, there are usually press conferences held afterwards too.
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Postby mump boy » Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:34 pm

Rex68 wrote:
nevetssllim wrote:
Rex68 wrote:Or - now here's a thought - why not interview them after they won their events in Beijing/Osaka?! I presume AW had a couple of reporters out there...?


Do you honestly believe it is that easy?!


Athletes have to walk through the mixed zone after their events to talk to the media, so yes it is quite easy. And if they miss them in the mixed zone, there are usually press conferences held afterwards too.


are you drunk

athletes spend about 20 seconds with each journalist inthe mix zone and you can't conduct an indepth interview at a press conference you're lucky if you get one quetion !!
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Postby Rex68 » Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:43 pm

mump boy wrote:
Rex68 wrote:
nevetssllim wrote:
Rex68 wrote:Or - now here's a thought - why not interview them after they won their events in Beijing/Osaka?! I presume AW had a couple of reporters out there...?


Do you honestly believe it is that easy?!


Athletes have to walk through the mixed zone after their events to talk to the media, so yes it is quite easy. And if they miss them in the mixed zone, there are usually press conferences held afterwards too.


are you drunk

athletes spend about 20 seconds with each journalist inthe mix zone and you can't conduct an indepth interview at a press conference you're lucky if you get one quetion !!


Sometimes you don't need many quotes for a feature, so the 20-60 seconds an athlete spends with a journalist in the mixed zone can be used wisely by asking a few key questions. Or writers could use their few moments with an athlete to arrange a time to meet up the following day for a chat. I'd imagine there would be more time to talk to athletes at Grand Prix meetings, so there's another opportunity. The IAAF site manages to get in-depth features with a handful of winners at the end of each day during a major championship. If they can manage to get enough time to chat with athletes (and if many other papers/mags can do it), then why can't AW?
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Postby nevetssllim » Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:50 pm

The IAAF are the governing body of athletics. Of course they are able to. :roll:

And why on earth would it be easier to track down athletes at Grand Prix meetings?! :?

And considering most days at world champs have a morning and evening session, it's hardly going to be easy to get the athlete to agree and finding a compatible time.

Plus journalists don't speak to athletes one-on-one anyway in the mixed zone.
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Postby Rex68 » Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:06 pm

nevetssllim wrote:The IAAF are the governing body of athletics. Of course they are able to. :roll:

The IAAF have normal freelance writers who cover the championships, just like any other publication. If they can chat to athletes, then so can the rest of the media.

nevetssllim wrote:And why on earth would it be easier to track down athletes at Grand Prix meetings?! :?

Because athletes have less commitments (i.e. medal ceremonies, press conferences) at Grand Prix meetings, and I'm guessing less writers turn up to GPs compared to Championships.

nevetssllim wrote:And considering most days at world champs have a morning and evening session, it's hardly going to be easy to get the athlete to agree and finding a compatible time.

Once they've finished their event(s), most athletes will spend the last few days of the championships just sitting in the stands or wandering around their hotel.

nevetssllim wrote:Plus journalists don't speak to athletes one-on-one anyway in the mixed zone.

Sometimes athletes will get 'mobbed' by the media, but I'd imagine that sometimes it's possible to have a decent chat. I've been to loads of events and have watched individual members of the press speak to athletes one-on-one in mixed zones - they just wait for the mob to dissipate and then go in for a further chat.

Why are you acting as though athletes are some kind of elusive being?! Okay, the Greeks might be (:lol:), but it's not that hard to track athletes down for a chat. If AW can do it three times with Nick Willis - someone who lives on the other side of the world - or with Maryam Yusuf Jamal - someone who doesn't speak much English - then there are no excuses for AW not to be a bit more inventive in thinking about who to feature.
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Postby MatthewFM » Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:10 pm

Rex68, maybe you might like to become one of our freelance contributors?
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Postby Silver Fox » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:12 am

The silence is deafening...
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Postby Rex68 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:31 pm

MatthewFM, thanks for the kind offer, but I'm a solicitor - I'm not really a writer - and I'm too busy at the moment to take on any further commitments.

Before this thread gets any more out of hand, all I'm telling you is a few observations I've noticed as a long-time reader of AW. It's very admirable that you manage to get the mag out each week with what appears to be a relatively small team, but instead of getting defensive about these comments, it would be good if you could maybe take a step back and take them on board. Like I said before, it's not the subscribers you should be surveying - it's the lapsed subscribers who you should be surveying to see what changes would get them back on board.
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Postby Patriot » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:40 pm

Hear hear, Rex.

Nev - a Fibingerova interview? I would love to have seen that, as would tonnes of other people. You are completely wrong in your supposition.
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Re: What is happening to AW?!

Postby Rex68 » Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:37 pm

Rex68 wrote:- Since winning the Commonwealth title in 2006, Nick Willis has been featured around three times now. He's a decent athlete, but not so fascinating that he deserves three features! What did the second and third features tell us that the first one didn't? How about a feature with the enigmatic Rashid Ramzi? Or the up-and-coming Asbel Kiprop? Or the two-time Europ champ Baala?


Another Nick Willis feature again this week...

zzzz..... :roll:
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Postby Oleg » Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:44 pm

I have to say that I was hugely unimpressed by AW having not read it for years. I decided to take up the 5 free issues that was offered. I only received 3 of them and didn't even read the 3rd as the first 2 were so poor. Was thinking of asking what happened to the other 2 but then decided it would be a waste of paper.
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Postby jumpingstan » Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:53 pm

I subscribed to AW for 9 years, worked for them last summer as a results contributor, and I am still waiting to be paid for that work, terribly ran magazine!
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