9 May 2018

LTFE: The 4th Estate In MTB

WORDS & PHOTOS x Eskapee Editor

Dear MTB Media,

Let’s not kid ourselves, we are just entertainment.

Apparently there are some pretty bad things that happen behind the scenes using forced child labor for the manufacture of your new electric car. But, there were also some pretty shonky things that happened at Foxconn City with the manufacture of your Apple product; VW bent the rules with their diesel engines to get their cars into the USA market; Lance Armstrong wasn’t so Livestrong; and the list goes on and on. There’s one common denominator in all these the events and it was journalism. It was “real” journalism that either discovered the truth or continued to dig to tell us the real story. The broadcasting of these events helped shape our views and opinions and let us discover what moral and ethical boundaries we were happy with. Armed with the truth and having that information help us make decisions that we could act upon if we chose.

So, what the hell does this have to do with mountain biking, you ask?

We, as a collective of MTB media (including ourselves at Eskapee), are more often simply providing you with entertainment. We’re not trying to make you feel uncomfortable, we’re not trying to throw complex social and ethical questions your way that make you question your beliefs, and we’re not trying to find the truths that don’t want to be told. We’re simply giving you an experience, selling you a product, and helping you love the sport that you so very dearly love.

But, what if there was some shonky stuff happening behind the scenes of the mountain biking world? Who would be able to dig it up, who would be able to find the truth, and who would be able to expose the wrongs? Heck it wouldn’t be us. We’re (us at Eskapee) just photographers who have no idea about how to do real journalism and if you sent us to China to investigate manufacturing standards we’d be too busy shooting #lighbro against the flames of the welders’ torches and miss the real story that’s hidden behind the door that says ‘do not enter’. And I personally think this is a close truism for much of the mountain bike media you’re consuming.

(And then there’s the issue about biting the hand that feeds you – but that’s for another debate.)

There is also an important question to be asked – Do you even care? Do you simply want to believe that there are no bad things that might be happening behind the scenes of our sport, or do you simply not care and don’t want to know if there was? That’s fine, and that’s your choice, but while we continue to produce nothing but entertainment, we will also not be able to provide you with anything to help you care about things if you did. We think the role of the MTB media (including ourselves) needs to step a little beyond filling your feeds with bromancing mountain biking adventures, sick edits, and the latest press release cut and paste for your enjoyment. I think we occasionally need something that goes above and beyond and takes a gamble to find the truths or confront our ideas and beliefs. It’s something that Eskapee has done a little in the past and will continue to strive to do into the future.

And why this rant?

Well, it’s pretty simple really. While we read the headlines about another corporate scandal, or the new discovery of child labor to make your electric care better for the environment, were also being ignorant to things that may indeed be happening in our own backyard. We are not saying that there is anything that we should be concerned about, but without real journalism in our media mix then we’ll never know and continue to be blissfully ignorant.

Until then, we are just entertainment. But maybe that’s all we’re supposed to be?