I actually flat out could not possibly disagree with you more.
I do agree with you that the splash page shouldn't be an ad. It isn't. So if that key point in this argument changes your mind, then we do agree.
However, the idea that it is better to be a pro photo that we choose is rediculous. That is the PROBLEM with skiing - its a tiny old boys club where only a few people ever get a chance for exposure. The whole reason we did this is that there is a ton of immensely good talent on Newschoolers, and when we chose the content as a community - then everyone has an equal shot at exposure.
You were probably skiing a ton this winter and didn't follow it enough, but you should click through and see what got chosen.
Its amazing. Personally I think it is way more legit that newschoolers would try to focus on the up-and-comers than the usual pros. We want to foster media talent, and showcase what the everyday skier is doing.
I agree with you on the front that things like the free wally pictures are a little much, and we've been tweaking the algorithm to skip over stuff like that. The problem is that people do like it and really highly upvote it....
The future of newschoolers is in showcasing what every skier is doing, and building an ecosystem where new photographers, videographers and journalists can have their voices heard. We will decide the next wave of media pros as a community, and stand together in our opinion.
You should submit some shots for Stept. I'm sure you guys would have some awesome stuff that you're not going to sell anywhere and you would for sure get featured.
I think the REAL issue here is that photographers shouldn't watermark their photos so ludicrously. I don't even care if its an ad... its just plain ugly.
I personally think that if you toned down the watermark a bit, that photo is pretty awesome.