Since Cranked #26 hit the newsstands a bit over a month ago, we’ve noticed a (small) uptick in subscription cancellations. It could just be a blip, but then again we also received a (very polite) email from one of the cancellers which suggests that there might be a bit more to it than that. Here’s the relevant paragraph:
“There were a good few pages in the latest issue dedicated to ‘Trans’. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, and I didn’t read [it] … but I just didn’t feel comfortable effectively sponsoring such an article.”
We sent him a polite reply back, pointing out that we frequently cover difficult or controversial subjects, and recommending that he actually read the feature before dismissing it for being (his words) “made up trendy fads and imaginary exclusion”. But his renewal remains cancelled at this point (which , of course, he has every right to do).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we value all our readers. Every single one. I don’t like losing any of our subscribers, for whatever reason… as far as the Cranked team is concerned, you’re all part of the extended family. But I also accept that everyone makes their own choices.
Cranked is all about celebrating the variety in our sport. No other mountain bike mag covers the breadth and depth of stories that we do, and that’s something of which I’m very proud.
All kinds of people ride bikes. Most of them seem to be white, middle class, western men. But not all. We feature amazing women as often as we can, and we’ve given coverage to disabled riders several times over the years. We’ll continue to feature minorities as and when we’re able, because why wouldn’t we?
We also don’t shy away from controversy. Cranked was one of the first bike mags to give e-bikes extensive coverage, for example. We’ve been praised for our examination of mountain biking and mental health. We’ve tackled climate change, and the environmental cost of the bike industry.
The Trans feature in question gave a voice to two very different trans women, both racing bikes at an elite level. They’ve faced difficulties doing so, on top of anti-trans discrimination which has become, we’re told, particularly bad over the past few years. We simply told their stories.
Most mainstream magazines will kill a story if they fear it’ll upset any readers. It’s not because they think their readers are delicate petals; it’s the harsh economic reality of wanting to keep the pounds rolling in. And it’s a valid enough approach, except that the result can sometimes be bland, identikit content; the journalistic equivalent of a burger and fries, washed down with a shake. It’ll fill you up, but are you really satisfied?
The Cranked approach is different for a reason. Whilst I’m mangling a food metaphor, I might as well suggest that we’re more medium rare steak than mechanically reconstituted beef patty. Not everyone likes steak. I know that, and I accept it. It’s not going to stop me from seeking out the most interesting stories and publishing them, even if some people find that approach a little too challenging for their tastes. It’s the same reason we don’t asterisk or edit out expletives.
Publish and be damned. We don’t set out to offend anyone, but I make no apology if sometimes we challenge preconceptions and ask difficult questions. I hope you like our approach. But if you don’t, I’m cool with that too.
Founder / editor / chief bottle washer