Okay, I’ll admit I’m an internet publishing junky. To me, paper and ink (P&I) are on their last legs — but they still have their place.
The worst thing about P&I (aside from resource use) is that once something is printed you can’t easily take it back.
And the best thing about P&I is that once it’s printed you can’t easily take it back.
That means if you want to publish worthy P&I, you’ve got to go over it with a fine toothed comb. The facts have to be straight. It’s got to read well and present something worth saying. But mostly, it’s got to stand the test of time because it’s going to exist on dusty shelves and library archives for many, many years. People intuitively know that P&I writing often receives more attention than web copy, so they give it a higher standard of credibility if the periodical in question has a modicum of respectability (e.g., National Enquirer vs. New Yorker).
Not all magazines can live up to such a standard all the time, but it is worth aspiring to. I know Couloir Magazine’s publisher Craig Dostie has done the best he can with that, given constraints of money and time. At times Couloir has fallen short, but on the whole since first publication in 1988 of “le Chronicle du Couloir” (as it was first known), the mag has indeed formed an archive-worthy chronicle of backcountry skiing as practiced in North America.
What prompted me to write this blog post is that I just received a preview of the next Couloir Magazine. Two interesting profiles make this a particularly compelling issue: An autobiographical tale by Ej Poplawski tells the story of his journey back from waking up in a hospital bed with a leg missing, after falling during a telemark competition. Along with that is a profile of publisher Craig Dostie. Penned by skilled writer Peter Kray, this is truly a good read and doesn’t dance over interesting points about Craig, such as him being a Republican functioning in a business that’s as liberal as a recycled hemp convention.
Indeed Dostie is an interesting character. He’s got strong opinions, and openly carries a major agenda about promoting backcountry skiing and “growing the sport,” frequently to the extent of rabidly sharing his version of the future (which, by the way, has frequently come true.) He’s received no small amount of ridicule for where he’s coming from, and at one time was even in the unenviable position of being an internet punching bag on web forums where it seemed people were trying to build up their community by tearing other people down.
Whether you like Dostie or not, you have to admit his magazine has had a significant and mostly positive influence on North American backcountry skiing. Like your free-pivot tele bindings? Dostie was the first industry person to push for those. Ever enjoyed a hut? Couloir pushed hut skiing for years, thus helping create the huge customer base that drives the amazing array of backcountry shelters we now enjoy. Ever use terms like “AT” skiing? Couloir originated that. And how about that old saying “ball of foot pressure is a figment of your sensation,” regarding the engineering of telemark bindings? Dostie originated that as well. And can you ever forget “earn your turns?” Yep, that’s a Dostism too.
Along the lines of “growing the sport,” another interesting thing about Dostie is that he’s a die hard telemarker, but realized early in the game that AT gear would be appropriate for many people who could enter the sport from being resort alpine skiers. Hence his relentless coverage of AT over the years that he roped me into assisting with (and sometimes going a bit overboard with, which interestingly enough didn’t seem to get edited out, huh Craig?).
Just so you don’t think Craig and I are in the mutual back patting society, we’ve had our share of disagreements. But in the end it’s been fun to be friends for so many years and watch each other walk, run, and frequently stumble through the publishing world. Thus, I enjoyed Peter Kray’s profile, and I’m betting you will as well.