Month: November 2015

The Racecaller Critique

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The Racecaller is a DIGC302 project that started off as a podcast but ultimately manifested as an online magazine. Personally I believe that this change in trajectory was the right thing to do, for a few reasons.

Firstly, podcasts personally do not appeal to me. I am much more of a visual person that an audio person and I find it hard to sit down and listen to podcasts. I also think that a magazine is much more appropriate for her target audience. She stated in her beta presentation that her audience was people who do not have much to do with the racing industry. She wants to change the stigma associated with racing and expose some of the human element of horse racing, not just the stupid hats and bogans getting drunk and gambling.  She wants to provide a contrast to the elitist views of racing and focus on the stories of the racehorses, jockeys and stablehands, rather than focussing on the party and socialite atmosphere of the races.  And I feel like this isn’t made clear enough by the name “The Racecaller”, which would turn people off listening to a podcast if they were not interested in racing. They would probably assume it was just about exactly what the name suggests – commentating races.

Secondly, Georgie admitted that her strengths lay in writing and photography, rather than in podcasting. She had never recorded or put together a podcast before, and it also relies on having the people that you want to interview available all at the same time. Given that every photo in the 54 page magazine except for one was taken by here, she was right. The images in the magazine are absolutely beautiful, and suit the format perfectly.

In terms of improvement, having guest authors to provide different perspectives would have been very interesting. When writing a whole magazine by yourself, your own bias can slip in, even without intending it to. There is no such thing as completely objective writing. By having other authors it would have provided a more diverse perspective. However, time constraints and obviously financial restraints would have prevented this. It is one thing to ask someone to take some time out of their day to be interviewed by you – it is another to ask them to sit down and write an article for you. That is very much stretching the friendship, and without offering payment in return for their writing, it would be very hard to get content.
Another aspect I would have liked to have seen in the magazine would be a piece either written by an anti-racing advocate or addressing anti-racing sentiments. I come from a family of horse lovers who tend to dislike the racing industry as a whole. While often the trainers, jockeys and stablehands are not in the wrong – they love those horses as they would love their children – the owners no longer want a horse when it proves to be unprofitable. While there are many places that take and adopt ex racing horses, some are simply killed. Wastage in the racing industry is a huge problem that tends to be swept under the rug and ignored. I would have liked to have seen an article on this, perhaps in the form of interviewing a few people in the industry to find out their thoughts on it. This was something I suggested to George during her original pitch, to have a podcast that had both pro and anti racing guests.

The Racecaller magazine provides a great mix between a beginner’s guide/introduction to racing, interviews with trainers and opinion pieces.  It is clear that her access to the racing industry heavily helped with this project. Her family is involved in the racing industry, so her access to take photos or interview trainers was much better than what it would have been had anyone else in the class done a similar project.  She was able to get access to trainers and jockeys for interviews and provide us with an almost homely insight to the real people behind racing, not just the people with the money.

The final project of a 54 page magazine shows the amount of dedication and work that was put into this project. Without undermining the hard work of everyone else in the class, it seems almost unparalleled by other projects. Everyone put a lot of work into their projects but the beta presentation for The Racecaller was beyond my expectations, especially considering she working on an unfamiliar platform, with no background in graphic design.