Apparently, I am late to this party. Just before SHOT Show, Paul Helinski, who appears to be the blogger for GunsAmerica, made some comments on a post regarding internet media at the official NSSF blog that didn’t sit too well with the firearm blogging community. You can read about it here, here, and here.
The takeaway is that Mr. Helinski sees himself as “real internet media,” and looks down on those who he feels are not. He even goes so far as to suggest that gun bloggers with small audiences should not be allowed in the press room or to Media Day at the Range duing SHOT Show. He also complained about having to wait in line behind people who were taking video at Media Day with their cell phones.
While I agree that the gaggle of people at Media Day wasn’t conducive to easily testing some of the firearms that were available, the manner in which Mr. Helinski chose to express his opinions was rather unprofessional. He also – either out of ignorance or a willful twisting of the facts – states that GunsAmerica’s compete.com rankings, showing over 1 million unique visitors per month, are an indication of how serious a media professional he is, and how seriously his blog should be taken. My blog, for comparison, has about 6,000 unique visitors per month.
There are several ironic factors regarding this issue that I will discuss in no particular order.
– First, people using cell phones to take video on Media Day.
A friend of mine’s boyfriend is a professional cinematographer; that is, he shoots major motion pictures with video cameras that price out in the five figure range and above. He was taking video of her shooting a pistol on Media Day with an iPhone 4S, and I don’t think it was because he didn’t love her enough to use a “real camera.” His qualifications and experience far exceed whoever GunsAmerica had running their expensive video camera. I’ll take experience over equipment any day.
– Second, segregating “real media” from “small-time bloggers.”
I don’t want to give the impression that this post is just sour grapes – that I’m jealous of the size of his blog, and I feel intimidated by it. This is for two reasons. Number one, as I told several people at SHOT, my blog is small, and I like it that way. Not many people read it, but the people that do are polite, educated, and professional. I’d like to keep it that way. Number two, my blog ranks higher in search engines than the GunsAmerica blog, and so does practically every other gun blog in existence.
OpenSiteExplorer says that the GunsAmerica blog Page Authority (on a scale of 0-100, how well search engines rank sites based on a lot of things, but mostly the quality of their content and how many people link to that site) is 31; VuurwapenBlog is 44. Guns and Ammo Magazine’s online site is 41.
Mr. Helinski would like us to look at the root domain – gunsamerica.com – and their Page Authority is 54. Impressive, no doubt, until you realize that Gunbroker’s is 61. GearScout, the official Military Times blog that I wrote for during SHOT, has a Page Authority of 72. I was unable to find a firearms-related blog that had a lower Page Authority than the Guns America blog.
– Third, their social media presence is weak. Their blog has no Facebook page. The official GunsAmerica Facebook page has 5,000 fans, ten times as many as my blog, but the GunsAmerica root domain has 200 times as many unique visitors per month as my blog. Not very impressive, from a ratio standpoint. Also, how far has not using cell phone cameras gotten them on YouTube? I have three times as many YouTube subscribers as the GunsAmerica blog, and I consider myself to be very small potatoes on YouTube.
– Fourth, his comments on bloggers who recently created blogs and “installed wordpress” just to get in to Media Day are especially ironic, given that his blog came into existence just three months before SHOT 2011, and he is using an off-the-shelf WordPress theme (I am too, but I won’t hold it against anyone else for doing so, with the exception of this example). Despite his claims of “15 years of hard work,” the GunsAmerica blog has only been in existence since October of 2010.
If we were to use Mr. Helinski’s own criteria for judging whether or not a blogger should be allowed in to Media Day or enter the press room, he certainly should not have been admitted to those events for SHOT 2011, and the result of that might be that he wouldn’t have been allowed to attend Media Day 2012 either.
There was a kernel of truth inside the rotten fruit of his statements, but the poor expression of his opinion has clouded the issue. In fact, he’s prevented a serious discussion of whether or not Media Day had too many attendees, choosing to focus attention on himself and his own “achievements” instead.
Mr. Helinski is right in suggesting that quality content will rise to the top regardless of adversity. Given the big name writers, corporate backing, and expensive equipment used to create GunsAmerica blog content – the dismal performance of his blog can only mean that the quality of his content is not strong enough to stand on its own merits.