Friday 2 February 2018

Counting Crows

Footless Crow was launched in 2010 and initially was aimed at bringing long forgotten quality essays, previously published in journals, outdoor magazines and anthologies, back into the spotlight, to be enjoyed by a new audience who had never seen them the first time around, or enjoyed by those who had read them before but who could now revisit them anew in a digital format. A format previously unimagined when they were first typed out  by the authors. Over the years these articles have been complimented by new, previously unpublished works by respected figures in the climbing world, as diverse as David Craig, John Redhead and Dennis Gray.

Now after seven years of weekly articles, FC is going fortnightly.In an age when even a highly respected publication like Climb has gone under after many years and in various guises, there is no doubt that reading habits within the climbing community have changed. In fact climbing itself has changed dramatically with more and more especially younger activists, moving into other areas like mountain and road biking, skiing, parascending and surfing.Many who do still climb are more likely these days, to be bouldering, sports climbing or down at the wall. Witness the many great crags which are disappearing under vegetation throughout the climbing areas of the UK, as modern climbers find trekking in to a remote mountain crag where they might find a once recommended, two star route is now a lichenous, heathery, green spiral!

Another factor in the fast changing climbing culture landscape has been the rise of the vlog. More and more people these days are abandoning the traditional outdoor press and digital sites like Footless Crow, and moving over to You-tube and Vimeo where they can watch thousands of highly polished personal vlogs and professional sites. Producing highly entertaining and informative videos on everything from climbing to wild camping; road trips to back country skiing. It might be an exaggeration to state that moving images are taking over from words but there’s no doubt in my mind that this trend and appetite for vlogs is hitting the written media.

Which brings me back to why FC is going fortnightly. First off,it takes a surprising amount of work to source material and then knock out a presentable illustrated article every week and the truth is, viewing figures have been declining in recent years. FC has always been rather quirky and specialised in that it resides by and large, in the past, and in 2018 there is a limited audience it appears, for historical articles. The positive side of a fortnightly enterprise is that an article remains at the top of the tree-so to speak- for an extra week. It is surprising how many people will come to the site from Google and just take a look at the lead article and not bother scrolling down to check out the other articles beneath.

So, the crow is alive and well; its just that he’ll be spending more time perched on a gently swaying branch, scanning the horizon, than in the air!