Thursday, May 28, 2009

Westchester Magazine Feature on Top Dentists Has Credibility Cavity

A Shameless Mix of Ads and Editorial

You can't fault Westchester Magazine for running advertising supplements; just about every magazine does.
But you can easily find fault when they try to pawn off those supplements as legitimate editorial copy, as it did in its latest issue with what was ostensibly a feature on the county's top dentists. The "piece" was bannered across the front cover.
Inside, is one paragraph that explains how the magazine "asked" topDentists, an Augusta, Georgia, database of dental professionals to do the tallying "as determined by peer reviews collected and analyzed by topDentists from thousands of dental professionals in the Westchester area."
Yeah, right.
From the get-go, this list had a big stink to it, and not because my own in-demand dentist wasn't on the list.
It's because there is absolutely no editorial copy about said dentists. There's copy all right, 18 pages worth. But it's a giant supplement paid for by, you guessed it, topDentists.
This wouldn't be a problem if it was a standalone ad supplement. But it's promoted on the cover, is in the magazine's table of contents and has its imprimatur ("Westchester Magazine asked topDentists....")
At best, it's shameful for a magazine that recently has tried to raise its profiles with several news features that are a departure from their more-typical service articles (10 Most Romantic Places to Kiss, 25 Great Getaways).
Westchester Magazine has long arrived in my mailbox on the thick side, remarkable in these recessionary times. But it turns out, as a source told me, many of their ads are actually bartered. So, while it's covering one of the most-affluent counties in the country, it's not rolling in as much dough as they'd like you to believe. I found that out a couple of years ago when I interviewed for a senior editor's job there. All was going swell until we started discussing money.
The magazine wanted someone who lived in Westchester. But they only wanted to pay a salary more befitting for West Chester, Pa.
Yet, still I read, and I generally like what they do. Until now.
The dentist supplement is a fiasco, to put it very kindly.
The money might have been nice, but what price credibility?

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