Comment 1

The Racecaller

Georgie Beresford’s project, The Racecaller, is an intimate exploration into the Horse racing industry with a desire to undercut the marketing executive efforts that portray horse racing as a social elitist culture. The Racecaller exemplifies Bereford’s control and skill over the Magazine format, reinforcing her choice to transition away from podcasting. Yet her comfort in emulating professional magazines limited her ability to experiment with the digital magazine format. Her project highlights the beauty in the Horse racing industry, but unfortunately avoided an exploration of alcohol, gambling and animal welfare present in the industry.

Beresford identified that dialogues about the racing participants were missing from the presentation of the industry to young adults. The marketing of the industry focused on the social values of formally dressing up, drinking, and gambling. Beresford argued that this cultivated an elitist event with negative connotations associated with “celebrity, unequalled style, and great wealth.” The industry’s image, attendance and integrity problem were issues she wanted to address through a podcast.

However, Beresford had no experience with Podcasts, which forced her to occupy her time learning technical skills rather than producing content. As such, Beresford transitioned to a magazine publication.

Her project collected interviews with riders accompanied with photography by Georgie. The stories didn’t have to be translated into an audio format so there was a quicker turnover. The Racecaller produced multiple narratives from interviews with the riders and their horses to form intimate insights of the industry for her readers.

She produced a lot of content from interviews, following industry leads which she gained through reputation and cunning rather than social contacts , and admirable move that conveyed a sense of wanting to prove to herself she could do this independently. This took a lot of time out of her schedule, especially working to location where racecourses could be 100 km/s away. Also, many locations required media passes or professional passes to be given access to some areas. This was a limitation however she apparently circumvented this from simply asking.

Georgie hosted and formatted her magazine on Libsyn, a platform for user created magazines. This allowed her to construct and layout a professional looking magazine with minimal experience. The magazine appears to emulate a professional magazine including contents, feature articles, one page spreads. Georgie wanted something that looked authentic. However, the online capabilities were dependent on network connectivity, so she suffered from drop outs losing content, and slow programs. Learning programs that run off the computer processor rather than through the browser will be beneficial next time.

While her format change provided a quicker content production, she still suffered from writers fatigue, and focussed too much time on the visual quality of the magazine. Despite this, Georgie produced a 54 page magazine, accounting for an hour of night to produce a story a week. Pages were offset with images. Georgies trajectory and control over her project shows a successful achievement.

Critique on Beta

I decided to follow Georgie’s project because she wanted to produce a podcast. I’m very familiar with podcasts and believed producing a Horse Racing podcast would be a rewarding listen as the value I attain from audio content is revealing culture and locations mitigated by the host. So, news of her transition away from the format was disappointing. I disagree with her point that a visual medium showcases the racing industry better than audio. The racing industry has always been dependent on a commentator, popular culture has romanticised the fast paced chanting of the horses positions through a race. And the other element that I associate with is the data and figures hosting for betting aids. The visual elements often showcase the spectacle of the audience, trending into a fashion show.Regarding this, Georgies use of visual elements supports her earlier desire to challenge the presentation of racing culture. It undercuts the media’s depiction with close intimate photography juxtaposed with interviews. Her magazine is marketable to members of the racing industry, fans, and potential some who attend or view it for more than the social and gambling elements.

While her presentation of the racing industry is more intimate and challenges the perceptions of the industry, it did not meet my expectations of her addressing the culture often depicted. The Racecaller is an implicit challenge to the expected, but certainly a tangent to her original explicit examination of the marketed culture. I expected interviews with attendees that show a different side, or breakdowns of current campaigns. The other issue she touched on was animal cruelty, and the parallels horse racing may share with news stories on issues within race hound races. It’s evident Georgies involvement within the industry and her hesitation of exploring these topics reveals her bias accounts. She holds a romantic attachment to the animals and the way handlers treat them. Maybe she’s naive or denial about the reports of malpractice. But her depictions of the industry, through her photography and the stories, reveal the beauty she sees in the industry. When she was criticising the marketed nature of the industry, she never wanted to counter this with negativity, but with positivity.

54 pages for a magazine produced by one person is a lot. I drew comparisons to magazines that produce the same amount with a team and ads. So the length of the format is commendable. It’s use of visual aids, and willingness to display one picture shows the strength in her skills. However, the length of the magazine may be too long for something to be easily consumed. Especially if the majority of media related content is marketed towards a culture that values the social elements of racing over the industry itself. The length of content devoted to the industry may put off an audience that may be curious. The medium lends itself to digital content, which means video and animated objects embedded in the magazine would have been great, and Georgies expresses that desire and understands that would’ve been great. In saying that, while Georgie’s portrayal of a magazine is accurate and beautiful in its legacy nature, I would much rather have seen a departure from using the same styles and techniques in a digital medium. Georgie had great opportunities to experiment with the Meta structure and the display of a digital magazine.

Improvements on Beta

My first suggestion is assessing the length of the magazine. If The Racecaller was split into multiple zines focussed on one story or 10 pages, it could be released weekly or biweekly. Multiple releases establishes a schedule which provides the opportunity to promote the magazine and establish a growing readership. Focusing on smaller releases would allow Beresford the time to experiment with the digital layout/formatting, and develop other forms of content such as video and audio. Expanding her release schedule and content formats allows the opportunity to reach new audiences through other channels.

Beresford could take advantage of the racing seasons, and upcoming events, to sell the content to distributors. She could print the magazine to distribute at events or racing industry locations. A simple example is printing a one page story or excerpt and providing free access to the rest of the zine through a QR code. This engages with both mediums and utilises direct marketing to Beresford’s target market.

Lastly, Beresford has proved that the Racing Industry is a viable topic to produce content of. If she found a small team that could produce the same amount of content, with a quicker turnover, diversification, but supports a continued growth of The Racecaller. A diverse team will encourage experimentation with different skills.

The Racecaller exemplifies Berefords’s appreciation of the magazine format and the industry through her large content production and professional looking proof of concept.  However, Bereford’s positive and emotional connection to the industry became a comfort zone that limited her ability to provide critical examination of the industry. Her final product would’ve benefited from a collaborator or a team that could challenge her bias through diversified content and experimental production. Unfortunately The Racecaller’s trajectory is finite, perhaps intended, as a one-issue magazine that’s never given the opportunity for a readership. With support, Georgie Beresford could’ve produce a continued product that blends digital and physical formats to broadly explore the Horse racing industry.


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