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June 10, 2009

Reaching Out to Outdoor Media


The writers, editors, publishers and TV/radio hosts that promote hunting and target shooting, and otherwise help publicize the image of responsible gun owners, remain critical to the future of our sports.

That's why NSSF makes it a point during the year to attend the major outdoor media conferences of such organizations as the venerable Outdoor Writers Association of  America, the relatively new and growing Professional Outdoor Media Association and  the largest regional group, the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association, among  others. These annual conferences provide an opportunity for NSSF to network with media professionals and remind them to utilize NSSF as a resource for information and research on firearms, hunting, shooting, safety, legislation and wildlife conservation.

NSSF makes presentations to the membership on topical and sometimes contentious issues. Current topics include that the eating of game meat taken with traditional ammunition does not pose a health risk to humans, and that the  term "assault weapon" is a political, and inaccurate, term used by gun-ban advocates to describe what has become the "modern sporting rifle."

We want the media to base their articles, columns and shows on accurate information so that their readers can have a solid understanding of the issues that affect their right to own firearms and their use of them to hunt and target shoot without encountering barriers.

Some have said that the influence of outdoor media is in decline due to the economic challenges media outlets everywhere face. Perhaps that is true in print media, as newspapers shed outdoors coverage and, unfortunately, the jobs of those journalists who provided that content to an avid readership for so many years. But that loss is, to an extent, balanced by increasing online content in e-zines, e-newsletters and blogs and on video sites developed both by professional media and citizen journalists who report, comment and enthuse about firearms and their use.

No one quite knows where the future of information delivery is headed, as author and social media expert Paul Gillin told the audience at the NSSF Shooting Sports Summit last week, but no matter where it's headed those, like NSSF, who rely on that media to tell accurate stories about often misunderstood subjects–such as gun ownership and hunting–need to stay in touch with the individuals who provide the content. And not just by e-mail or text message.

Recently, Google CEO Eric Schmidt in a speech at Carnegie Mellon's commencement ceremony told graduates, many of whom were about to receive freshly printed degrees as computer scientists, to remember to turn off their computers and cell phones occasionally so that they could spend time on something even more important: building relationships face to face.

That is NSSF's goal at these media conferences. Over the years, we've found that it's the relationships with individuals who share a common passion for hunting and the shooting sports that endure and provide a stable center around which the outdoor communications world swirls.

NSSF will be attending the OWAA Conference, which begins this weekend in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and will be at the POMA Conference in St. Louis next month, with attendance at other conferences to follow later in the year.