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latest NSS News

Postby Caver06 » Jan 17, 2009 9:57 pm

Sorry to offend those out there, but here is my gripe nonetheless. A first-time advertisement (at least in my 12+ years experience with NSS) on the back cover of the NSS News? Seriously? By none other than the NSS News Editor promoting his own publication? Problematic. It's been a showcase of DB's photos and artilces in the NSS News for way too many years now. Sure, they are of quality, but it does not represent the diversity of caves, cavers, regions, and scientific/philosophical perspectives out there. As far as the "lack of article submissions" argument is concerned, I've known several people who have submitted and been rejected outright.
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby mgmills » Jan 18, 2009 10:33 am

Caver06 wrote:Sorry to offend those out there, but here is my gripe nonetheless. A first-time advertisement (at least in my 12+ years experience with NSS) on the back cover of the NSS News? Seriously? By none other than the NSS News Editor promoting his own publication?


Regarding ads . . . guess you didn't look too closely at the October 2008 issue. There is an ad there from the NSS Bookstore.

In about 2003 or 2004 (sorry too lazy to go pull my back issues to check) there was a full page ad on the back cover for a caving event. I also recall seeing a few other ads but again am too lazy to go through all my back issues to look for them.

If you go to the link on page 3 of the current issue for Advertising you will see costs for ads in various places in the NSS News. . . the back cover is clearly listed there. The link is http://www.ads@caves.org

BTW, Cheryl Jones commented in another thread that the book you are upset about was published by the NSS and the sales of the book benefit the NSS.

Caver06 wrote:Problematic. It's been a showcase of DB's photos and artilces in the NSS News for way too many years now. Sure, they are of quality, but it does not represent the diversity of caves, cavers, regions, and scientific/philosophical perspectives out there. As far as the "lack of article submissions" argument is concerned, I've known several people who have submitted and been rejected outright.


Regarding submissions for articles there are specific guidelines for publication which are clearly stated at http://www.caves.org/pub/nssnews/style.html

I have known several people who submitted articles and were published in the NSS News. Sometimes they submitted the material several times to get it "right" for publication.

I don't know where you came up with the statement that it has been a showcase for DB's photos and articles. I see a wide variety of photographers and writers listed in my copies of the NSS News.

You are of course entitled to your opinion just as I'm entitled to mine. I'm posting this response to present another side to the issue for the purpose of discussion here.

disclaimer: I'm not wearing my moderator hat on this post. I'm expressing my opinions as "just a caver". :waving:
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby Caver06 » Jan 18, 2009 10:57 am

Again, sorry to offend. Just stating my opinion. Thanks for providing facts.
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby Squirrel Girl » Jan 18, 2009 11:18 am

Caver06 wrote:Sure, they are of quality, but it does not represent the diversity of caves, cavers, regions, and scientific/philosophical perspectives out there. As far as the "lack of article submissions" argument is concerned, I've known several people who have submitted and been rejected outright.

I don't know you. (at least I assume not, as I don't know a "Caver06" from Emerald City). I don't know the people you say submitted. I haven't seen the articles.

But on an overall perspective, I don't know how I would deal with being an editor. What happens when someone submits an article or some pictures and they aren't very good? An editor might not want to be biased, but sometimes you have to make some tough decisions. The people involved in submitting surely think what they submit are good. But the majority of cavers wouldn't like the article/pictures.

An example that comes to mind, is that "no caver should use rechargeables" thread that's going on. It seems to me that the writer really wasn't all that knowledgeable. Was that Dave trying to not be too elitist and allowing some so-so quality stuff in the News to be inclusive? What if the News were filled with those types of articles? I probably wouldn't be too pleased. I'd rather wish he were more discriminating.

So, I have no clue about why Dave rejected those articles. If they were great, I see no reason why Dave didn't print them. But I do imagine there could be endless reasons why Dave didn't think the material was what the readership (as a whole) would find interesting in content or be of high enough quality.

I'm not really an apologist for Dave. He's put stuff in the News that I highly disagreed with. But I do have sympathy for editors in general and how to deal with a wide variety of input.
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby Caverdale » Jan 18, 2009 4:24 pm

Caver06 wrote: A first-time advertisement (at least in my 12+ years experience with NSS) on the back cover of the NSS News? Seriously?


I just checked. Full page ads promoting caving equipment vendors were on the back cover of the NSS News on almost all issues up until the late 1990s, and sporadically thereafter until about 2005, when they were displaced by color photos. Most, if not all, issues of the Members Manual have full page ads right up until 2008.
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby Cheryl Jones » Jan 18, 2009 11:36 pm

I just checked. Full page ads promoting caving equipment vendors were on the back cover of the NSS News on almost all issues up until the late 1990s, and sporadically thereafter until about 2005, when they were displaced by color photos. Most, if not all, issues of the Members Manual have full page ads right up until 2008.


Exactly!

We gladly sell ad space on the back cover (or anywhere!) of the NSS News, Members Manual, and American Caving Accidents, because the revenue helps offset the publication expenses. But caver vendors have really cut back on advertising, and our periodicals don't have a large enough circulation to interest the larger companies, so finding advertisers isn't easy.

If anyone out there in caverland has an in with a company who they can convince to support the NSS with a monthly outside back cover ad, let Dave Bunnell know! Info here http://www.caves.org/pub/nssnews/ads.html

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Re: latest NSS News

Postby Caver06 » Jan 19, 2009 1:14 am

I'll put myself out on a limb again. Those who have responded have made some good points. I'm guilty of first, not having articulated my thoughts in the best way. And second, not consulting previous issues of the NSS News to find out exactly when ads were posted on the back cover, and precicely how many were articles or photos associated with Dave Bunnell. I am guilty of generalizing and creating my own perception of the NSS News. A few years ago I became annoyed because the same photograpers and authors were being featured month after month, and I started ditching my NSS News issues into the recycle bin after a brief perusal, or dropping them off at a hospital/dental clinic waiting room because I didn't want to have to count them in my moving weight (thus I can't go back and support my generalizations with facts). I've set up residence in 10 countries in the past 22 years (first half on my own for my PhD research and then as a spouse of an Army officer), and quite frankly, this is not a weight I want to pay for with each move. I've met scores of talented scientists and photographers who have either no interest in submitting articles/photos because of the "word on the street" or have received replys such as, "Put a third flash back there behind that formation [after a 24 hour grueling belly crawl/wetsuit cave trip] and it will look great." I subscribe to periodicals from another interest of mine, skydiving. The difference between NSS News and Skydive Magazine and Parachutist is that sometimes a little bit grainy, not perfectly composed, but otherwise very cool photo taken by an-as-of-yet-to-be-known artist makes the centerfold or cover and we all cheer. Whatever. My years of living in 10 different countries and being a professional anthropologist have taught me one important thing -- perception is everything.
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby Squirrel Girl » Jan 19, 2009 5:43 am

Have any of the photographers that were rejected by Dave submitted their photos to the photo salons (print or slide?). If they did and they won, then there's an extremely high chance they got their pictures in the News. I remember again and again, that winning photos were published. Dave has no part in the salons. There are different judges between prints and slides. And there are multiple judges for each.

I'm wildly speculating, but if the photos aren't good enough for the photo salons and Dave doesn't think they are good enough for the News, maybe they're not good enough.

I don't know because I haven't seen any pictures in question. But in general, aside from any personal impressions, I would rather see good photos in the News than so-so ones. And if a picture has some really compelling subject, it could be printed, even if not technically perfect. That happened with Cave Ballads last (?) year. A song that didn't have the best performance had a great "hook" and it won.

I also notice that photographers go in waves. Sometimes Kevin Downey submits a bunch, then you don't see much from him for a few years. Same with Benjy von Cramen.

Another problem with this situation (a very vaguely similar situation just occurred in the Cave Diving Section with a cover photo), is that you get a small segment of people who do good work and do A LOT of contributing. Because of that, some people think there's a conflict of interest in our hobbies that have a very small cadre of people in print. I think we should thank (but not venerate) the volunteers.
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby batrotter » Jan 19, 2009 6:30 am

I for one want to say that Dave has done a great job with the NSS News. I've been a member since 86 and the news is the best it has ever been. Being an editor is a thankless job. Nobody wants to do it, but everybody wants to bitch about it. Keep up the great work Dave!
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby graveleye » Jan 19, 2009 9:26 am

This reminds me of the music industry in many ways. There are only so many spaces at the top, and lots and lots of people competing for those places. There are a handful of people who have to decide who makes it to these top slots and those who don't get selected might find the process unfair. In the music industry, I've been rejected many more times than selected. In fact the more you throw your hat in the ring, the more you will be rejected. Of course, the more you submit, the more often you'll be selected as well. I've been on both sides of this in the music industry.

I started an indie record label for a spell back in the 90s, and I put out the call for artist demos. You would not believe all the crap I got. I mean, totally talentless people too. Of course there were a few interesting ones and a handful of great ones. But not all of even the good ones were going to make it to the limited number of openings I had available.

But honestly, the bad ones were weeded out first and that's just life in the big city. I don't mean to sound cruel or uncaring, but sometimes some peoples material is just of better quality than others.

So what do you do when you're stuff gets rejected? Well, unfortunately some folks just cry that it's unfair and never submit another thing. That always results in never getting published.. always! Some folks, on the other hand keep at it, and those are the ones who eventually get published, signed, or get that Friday night gig at the Roxy. These folks still might find the process unfair or challenging but keep at it despite the odds. Perseverance does eventually pay off.
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby Squirrel Girl » Jan 19, 2009 9:47 am

Nice analogy, Gravelly. Thanks for posting it.

It's always hard to know whether something is bad and deserves to be cut. Or maybe it's a matter of taste, and bad luck. But I think you're right that people should strive for betterment and keep on trying. And if you can't succeed one way, try another. Didn't Coomer make his own calendar? Have people published locally in Grotto or Section newsletters? Were the pics well received? If so, then move on to bigger things. If they get 'ehhhh' responses, well, maybe there's room for improvement before trying for the "News."
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Jan 19, 2009 10:21 am

Squirrel Girl wrote:Nice analogy, Gravelly. Thanks for posting it.

It's always hard to know whether something is bad and deserves to be cut. Or maybe it's a matter of taste, and bad luck. But I think you're right that people should strive for betterment and keep on trying. And if you can't succeed one way, try another. Didn't Coomer make his own calendar? Have people published locally in Grotto or Section newsletters? Were the pics well received? If so, then move on to bigger things. If they get 'ehhhh' responses, well, maybe there's room for improvement before trying for the "News."


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Re: latest NSS News

Postby Dave Bunnell » Jan 20, 2009 12:15 am

Caver06 wrote:Sorry to offend those out there, but here is my gripe nonetheless. A first-time advertisement (at least in my 12+ years experience with NSS) on the back cover of the NSS News? Seriously? By none other than the NSS News Editor promoting his own publication? Problematic. It's been a showcase of DB's photos and artilces in the NSS News for way too many years now. Sure, they are of quality, but it does not represent the diversity of caves, cavers, regions, and scientific/philosophical perspectives out there. As far as the "lack of article submissions" argument is concerned, I've known several people who have submitted and been rejected outright.


Well I suppose I should respond to the charges in this post, though thankfully some have done so already. As has been pointed out, the ad on the back cover was not produced by me (I would NOT make an ad tooting my own horn thusly...the copy is from the back cover and meant to promote the book to someone picking it up in a National Park bookstore). Second, the book is an NSS publication. For each book sold I make $2.00 (NSS book authors are given a small royalty) and in this case, the NSS makes about $20.00. I did all the layout for my book and didn't even ask for the fees usually given to those that produce the publications (and in fairness, neither does our current special publications chair). Most publishers give you a lot more per book.

As for putting the ad on the back cover, I had a space to fill and a nice color ad, so why not? Mike Dale has been producing some great ads for us in the last year, some of them in color, including this one. In many ways an ad is less disruptive on the back page than on a page of salon photos or those that go with an article. Some of the other mainstream caving pubs run ads on their back cover every month (Descent, Speleo).

I'd also like to know who all these people are that say they have had stuff rejected. Very little is ever rejected that I receive, I don't often have the luxury to be too picky. I do like to keep the features related to exploration, and occasionally reject something that is clearly just a trip report. I do get lots of random photos sent in for publication, and have to make judgement calls about what is worthwhile. But I try to use anything I think will be of general interest. I've never rejected ANY articles on the basis of poor photos to my knowledge.

As a cave photographer who goes on numerous expeditions I get a lot of exposure because invevitably a lot of these end up in the News (in fact, if it got NSS funding, its one of the requirements). You should also realize that I have also had to write numerous articles to "fill in" when there wasn't enough material for an issue, or a feature planned had to be pulled by the author (for example, to wait on a map being ready). This was the case with both of my recent sea cave articles. Another time I had to do an issue on New Zealand because there was nothing else on hand after the deadlines. We could have just had a thinner issue (hey, I get paid the same honorarium either way) but I like to keep them at least 32 pages. I can't recall any time I've ever bumped somebody else's article or photo for one of my own.

Finally, I should say that I have often angsted over the perception of too many of my own photos being in the magazine, between writing lots of articles and being a frequent winner of Salon ribbons. I am also often in the position to offer photos to the writer of a piece who lacks them (for example, the John Muir piece a few months back, and the recent article on Cave of the Bells). I generally always let the writer know I have these, is he okay with them, etc. I would never pull out the authors' photos because I happened to have something better from the cave in question, its generally always a matter of adding more to a piece without enough photos). Adding stock photos to an authors piece is standard practice in the magazine industry in general.

I suppose I could stop entering the photo salons, and that would reduce the number of photos I have in the News. In fact I no longer enter the Print Salon partly for that reason. But frankly, in all the years I've done the News, Caver06, you are only the second to make this complaint (at least where I could hear or read it), and the other was a "rival" cave photographer, so I had to consider the source. But I am very careful with the salon photos that my own images don't get any special treatment: just the ribbon winners, at the same size as everyone else's. Occasionally a ribbon or medal winner on the front cover but less often that I would do for others, and rightly so.

Caver06, have you ever submitted anything to the News?

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Last edited by Dave Bunnell on Jan 23, 2009 12:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby Caver06 » Jan 20, 2009 11:51 am

Please accept my apology for the comment about the ad on the last issue. I should have investigated before I wrote my post. No, I have not submitted to the NSS News.
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Re: latest NSS News

Postby wyandottecaver » Jan 20, 2009 6:55 pm

This may or may not be helpful to the current discussion which has essentially ended but here goes.

I also used to frequently think the photos in the News were the Dave Bunnell Show and would inwardly grumble a bit. I knew of many talented photographers locally who never showed up in the News despite being prolific (some would say monopolistic) posters in regional newsletters. I have no doubt that LOTS of casual readers also wonder why such a large percentage of work from the editor is present issue after issue. After checking with my local folks guess what...they never submitted any articles or pics to the News!

Based solely on my own experiances I think there are a few reasons for this.

First, I was under the wrong impression that only unpublished works could be submitted. Most folks initially publish in the grotto newsletter, and if they are like me, assume their article/pictures are not eligible for the News. The 1 article I have submitted, we withheld publishing locally based on this false assumption.

Second, I think many people are hesitant to put an otherwise good article in the News because they are afraid of being cross-examined on a national stage. (vis-a-vis rechargeable batteries and the Jackpot Cave articles to name 2 examples) Some of my fellow cavers were very nervous about "the News spotlight" despite having been eager to publish locally. Later, as word spread it had been accepted, people completely uninvolved in the story but who had received forwarded email copies of my review drafts decided to start commenting, including perceived "image" issues...never mind what actually happened :) Some were probably prudent. In the end, it was only because I wrote the article, and forcefully pushed for submission to the News, that the story didn't end up as a glorified trip report in the grotto newsletter.

Despite several articles in local newsletters myself, I had never submitted anything to the News because I didn't think I had a good enough story to tell. When I finally did, I had more trouble convincing the people who were in the story it was worthwhile than I did the News Editor! In fact, after it was accepted, the cartographer was so surprised he then decided he should produce a map of the survey in 1 month! (his last one took 4 years) Dave was kind enough to bump us back (despite needing an article that month) to allow time for the new map. Of course, I did do my homework before I sent the material to Dave (finding out prior publications were O.K.) and made sure the format matched the guidelines. This meant I had to re-do a lot of the grammer and numbers.

The bottom line is, I think the invisible ceiling for NSS News submission many of us do/did perceive is just that, a perception...and a wrong one at that.
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