QST Issue has Safety Concerns on Cover

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by W1YW, Feb 27, 2017.

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  1. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Climbers will undoubtedly do a second take on the March 2017 cover photo of QST (shown here for educational purposes). Although an inspiring shot with and for youth, the photo illustrates a number of safety alarms for climbers of towers. IOW, this is NOT a good example for anyone. I will let climbers far more experienced than me list the various mistakes shown on this photo. Let's use it to remind ourselves: SAFETY FIRST.

    Chip W1YW

  2. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Chip, its a good thing you brought this up to the front News page on the Zed.

    The photo has drawn embarrassingly negative attention for amateurs and buzz from tower professionals as well, see links below,



    Hopefully the corrective "teachable moment" will be appreciated by the well meaning instructors, photographers, and editors at QST, as well as the students.

    73 de John - WØPV
  3. ND5Y

    ND5Y Ham Member QRZ Page

  4. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is news and belongs on the news page. It is a big deal.

    But I am glad you also brought it up Tom, and got people thinking.

    QST made a major glaring error this time.

    Chip W1YW
  5. AF6LJ

    AF6LJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    This shows a great deal of carelessness on their part...
  6. KN4AQ

    KN4AQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Let me give you a media person's perspective on this story. I'm not speaking on behalf of QST or the ARRL, just as someone who cranks out a lot of media (including a few years publishing a regional ham magazine).

    The reason I'm posting this is the issue had attracted the kind of snarky nastiness that besets media (and politics) today. Once again, the issue is pushed to the limit... and this by people who would decry any whiff of political correctness in anything else they might come across. But because they caught the ARRL in an oversight, let's all pile on (or as one wag on Reddit noted, he gets all his safety training information from the cover of a magazine).

    First, QST editor Steve Ford has already apologized for the lack of attention to detail. That's in a Facebook post that I saw copied, but haven't been able to find myself. What I saw copied was a boilerplate mea culpa without details on how it happened. Maybe we'll get that, but in the absence, I'm left to some 'professional speculation.'

    The cover was not illustrating a story on How to safely climb a tower. It was the Antenna Issue, and having a young ham on the cover in climbing gear, apparently on a tower (but probably no more than two feet from the ground, or else the photo was taken from a drone) looked to the production staff like a nice way to present that issue.

    I'll go out on a limb and guess that nobody on the production staff was a routine tower climber, or had all the safety skills and training employed by professional climbers today. I've climbed and help build plenty of towers, from the days when nothing held me to the structure but one leg wrapped around the cross braces to a full-on harness and hard had. But I'd never call myself a safety expert. I do know that I can't climb the commercial towers that hold my club's repeaters anymore, without being licensed, bonded, etc. The QST production staff are experts at producing a magazine, but not all hams climb towers.

    If I had been noodling available pictures for the cover, I wonder if I'd have given any thought to the safety setup? I wouldn't have been aware of any of the violations that hams have pointed out. It didn't look like the harness was secured around the ham's waist. When I first looked at the issue, nothing called my attention to it.

    So Steve admits that safety should have been considered, and it's a lesson learned (how many of those have you had, and forgotten, in your career?). And experts could (and some probably did) tap him on the virtual shoulder and said, uh, hey, dude, you kind of missed something here. But others reached for the click-bait of Cover girl climber shot could send high schoolers to their death. THEIR DEATH! Because yeah... I get all my tower climbing safety information from the cover of QST, but I'm too busy to read the article about it.

    73, Gary KN4AQ
    N0MRD and K5XS like this.
  7. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nonsense Gary. There is no 'click-bait' in this news item and OP. And no one here has reached for it. Its the safety of a young person, shown as lacking in this example.

    Don't confuse this with the offal you have seen elsewhere.

    There is NO apology by WB8IMY on the ARRL web page--its main and cynosurial site.

    I don't care for or about those with 'snarky nastiness' (whatever that means....sort of coined illiteracy IMO), and you would be empty-handed in trying to ascribe that to me. The point is amply made in the OP: safety concerns.


    Perhaps you would like to contribute suggestions on how that safety could have been improved for this young person in this pursuit?

    With due respect, there is no way of knowing whether this is a girl or a boy(by appearance OR name), and that point is irrelevant. It is a young person doing a cool (but dangerous) thing, with long hair that can be caught, among other issues.

    Once this news OP hits the main page, I will be delighted to fill in any blanks that might arise on the blaring safety issues.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  8. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    What I don't understand is why QST didn't just use a real, professional tower climber for their cover? They have done so in past issues, even in recent years. If the goal for the cover was to show a climber, why not show somebody doing an actual climb with real climbing gear? A professional would have presented an accurate depiction of the activity, with appropriate gear, being performed safely, and all of this could have been avoided.
  9. W7UDI

    W7UDI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Trust me. The last thing you need for the cover of QST is a professional tower climber. Best part of the current cover is Chase is sporting Seahawks colors. Line green shirt and the blue of DBI Scala harness. Go Hawks!
  10. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    The editors at QST ought to know better. This isn't the first time they have been called out for an image that indicated a neglect for safety in tower climbing. The Oct 2004 issue, page 54, apparently created a similar outburst in online ham tower forums. And that wasn't the cover!

    These comments are not an attack on "media" for subjective reasons. QST covers aren't performance art; neither is it a popular science magazine. It's a technical journal for members of the national association for amateur radio. Their standards for correctness in such illustrations should be at the highest level.

    Hard to believe the effort was too much to make the photo subject and composition set up to depict proper safety measures ... if they really had a clue.

    The ARRL should publish a highly visible corrective statement, quickly, and seriously consider commissioning the composition of an article on tower climbing safety (has there ever been one?) I would bet many ham / pro climbers would gladly contribute material.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017

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