At last week’s BOF Regional Roadshow in Coventry I was one of the voices raised against BOF’s spending our money on a glossy in-house magazine: Focus. In fact I’m ambivalent.

Some people criticise Focus because of the content: too much of this, too little of that… but I think it’s a great magazine – the people who put it together do a great job. My objections are about money and competition.

Focus is lovely and glossy and costs a lot to produce, in staff time as well as in the printing itself. There isn’t much money in orienteering and the magazine seems like an extravagance. The only argument that Mike Hamilton put forward at the roadshow was that Sport England are very impressed with it, but that argument seems circular: we produce a nice magazine so that the funding body will be impressed enough to fund it. Another argument, that Focus is a great marketing tool, seems illogical, since you only get it once you’ve already decided to join.

But I can see that having a nice magazine as a member benefit might encourage some people to join or to renew, and also that some form of member communication is required, and changing to something cheaper won’t save as much money as one might think.

Another objection I’ve had to Focus is that it’s unfair competition for Compass Sport magazine. Perhaps Focus should be part of Compass Sport, which would then be part funded by BOF and available to BOF members at a discount. If this were to happen, Compass Sport would need to undergo a makeover – its design is somewhat old-fashioned – but it would relieve BOF of most of the magazine production duties and give them more time (and money?) to concentrate on promoting the sport.

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