The Changing Face Of I & E Part I

Twenty years or so ago, I & E sections of most state fish and wildlife agencies did little more than issue an occasional news release and publish a hunting and fishing magazine. The news releases, for the most part, were announcements of hunting seasons or changes in fishing regulations and although sports editors, in Kentucky, gave them good play, they were seldom considered real "news." The magazines were generally black and white publications with a newspapertype format. The stories they carried were primarily how, when or where to hunt or fish and the illustrations were usually photographs of people holding big (or not so big!) fish or of groups of people who had done or were about to do something that had to do with hunting or fishing. Sportsmen club news covered many a page in thc early puhlications and we made it a point to use lots of names and pictures of cluh memhers. The tone of the magazine was something like this: "Hunting and fishing are great in our state and if you don't believe it, just read this!" At that time, in the early fifties, public relations efforts were aimed exclusively at the hunting and fishing public and we were relatively secure in our helief that we knew our audience. Most of them, we felt, were not only hunters and fishermen but members of sportsmen, or conservation, clubs as well and we were pretty sure we knew what they wanted and needed to know ahout the out-of-doors in our state. lfthere was interest among other groups in what our game and fish department did, we saw little evidence of it. Whatever praise, or criticism, our agency received came from sportsmen who were pleased or disgruntled, as the case might be, about hunting and fishing regulations, particularly in regard to season lengths and limits. We believed then, and I think we were right, that our audience's interest was in the "take" and while we never consciously lied and said, for instance, that fishing was good when we knew it was poor, we were guilty of the sin of omission, I think, by neglecting to talk and write ahout problems we should have faced openly. For about this same time other fish and wildlife agency personnel were beginning to warn us that perhaps the picture we painted was a hit too rosy; that wildlife habitat was diminishing; that some waters were being fouled to the point that fishing was affected. And even in our Kentucky Happy Hunting Ground magazine, one courageous soul went so far as to say in 1950 that "the top basic factor that affects all wildl ife populations is the constantly increasing population of North America." However, we seldom went this far out and restricted our "think" pieces, for the most part, to such topics as farmer-sportsmen relationships, game and fish law violations, gun safety and the increasing numbers of wildlife killed on our highways.

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