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?

Oy, Vey! The Jewish Week Needs A Geography Lesson

White Plains is Where?

The May 15 issue of New York Jewish Week had an article on how a syngagogue in the city of White Plains, north of New York, was going to transform its space into a replica of Tel Aviv, in honor of that city's centennial.
The headline: Tel Aviv on the Hudson.
Cute? Feh.
The problem: White Plains is about 10 miles from the Hudson River. Tel Aviv on I-287 would have been more accurate.
However, that's what happens when you have editors who may never have ventured north of the Bronx and think anything outside of the city is "the country."
Which would be news to folks in White Plains, what with its skyscrapers, including a luxury 42-story condo that's also home to a Ritz-Carlton.
You know, the country.

It's a Spelling Bee, Not a Steel Cage Match

Washington Post Live Blog Too S-N-A-R-K-Y For Its Own Good

It's all well and good that The Washington Post is covering the National Spelling Bee, and live blogging it no less.
But a little perspective, please, is needed from writer Dan Steinberg, even if tongue is planted firmly in cheek.
In other words, lose phrases like: "As expected, the massive success in Round 4 led directly into a Round 5 bloodbath."
Bloodbath? C'mon.
These are kids. Let them be kids. This isn't Ultimate Fighting. A big deal, yes. But blood won't be spilled, even in a euphemistic way.
I know first-hand what it's like to lose in a spelling bee on a word you should have known (abhor, I added an e). I almost cried. But no blood was shed.
Sure, it sucked. But even in my 12-year-old way, I put the loss in perspective. Steinberg should do the same.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New Metropolitan Section M.I.A. From New York Times....

At Least at My Front Door

I'd be curious for your impressions of the print version of the new Metropolitan section of The New York Times in part because the folks who drop the paper on my stoop every morning (and like to have conversations at 5:15 a.m.), neglected to give me a copy.
Normally, I got my late and lamented Westchester section on Saturdays with all the feature sections. But its replacement didn't show yesterday either.
Judging by what I see online, the aim is a little, and I mean little, something for everyone. That's too bad, given the final Westchester section had several articles that the hometown incumbent, The Journal-News, with its Gannett-imposed mediocrity, would never dream of doing.
At least there are still zoned arts and restaurant reviews, also badly needed in the 'burbs.
So, maybe next week. And if you see whomever's dropping off my paper, please tell them to shut the hell up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Clemens Book by Daily News Reporters Gets Rave Review --- From The New York Times

Michiko Kakutani Goes Deep In Praise of "American Icon"

The New York Daily News doesn't have the same hate-hate relationship with The New York Times that it does with the New York Post.
Still, it was a bit jarring today to see Michiko Kakutani's lengthy Times review of "American Icon," a thorough dissection of Roger Clemens by the sports investigative team of the News (Michael O'Keeffe, Christian Red, Tori Thompson and Nathaniel Vinton, above), refer to the book as "gripping."

By focusing on Clemens and the people around him, the authors have turned the sprawling story of steroid-use into a sleek narrative that reads like an investigative thriller, peopled by a Dickensian cast of characters, from big-name ball players and their high-powered lawyers to small time bodybuilders and gym owners, from federal investigators and members of Congress to denizens of “the violent criminal underworld of muscle-building drug distribution.”

Nothing wrong where giving credit where credit is due. Which is why you'll never see the book mentioned in the Post.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Digging The Grave of Business Magazines Real Easy When You Don't Have a Clue

Douglas McIntyre and 24/7 Wall Street Again Prognosticate in a Vacuum

Analyzing the state of business magazines and forecasting their imminent doom in their current form is the media equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. Yet, somehow 24/7 Wall Street misses the mark.
The Web site has a missive from media doomsayer Douglas McIntyre with all sorts of "the sky is falling" perspectives on the state of things at Fortune, Forbes and Business Week.
Some of it's true and obvious, i.e. ads are waaaaay down. McIntyre makes the case that come the end of the year, one or all of them will continue to exist but not in their current forms and makes his case with web traffic numbers and ad revenues.
Fine, at least to a point. But then he pisses away his thesis with observations like these:

Fortune could decrease its frequency of publication to monthly and rely on the Internet to cover current news.

C'mon, is Fortune really in the business of covering news in print? Nah, never really has been. It's about profiles, investigations, looking at the big picture, the Fortune 500. News is not on its radar. And monthly? The folks who used to work at Portfolio could tell you how that worked out.
McIntyre issues a similar prescription for Forbes, which he says wouldn't be a big deal because its Web site is so successful and its readers are already accustomed to going online. But at the same time he also states Forbes' online revenue isn't growing. And how would reducing frequency change that? We never get an answer.
As for Business Week, McIntyre may be on to something. Maybe.

No matter what McGraw-Hill does, BusinessWeek will not be a weekly magazine with over 200 employees and a rate base of 900,000 at the end of the year. BusinessWeek will have to become a much, much smaller operation.

Of course, anyone who's opened a copy of Business Week lately (the latest issue is all of 76 pages), knows it can't get much smaller.
Less frequent, yes. Leaner? Ditto. But smaller? You're there already.

Door Hits Reading Eagle Employees On the Way Out

No Severance Pay, Even For Those Who Put In Decades at the Paper

Long gone are the days when you got laid off from a newspaper that you took it personally. At some shops, it's probably more of a surprise when you can still log on to your computer.
So, at first glance when the Reading Eagle announced May 1 it was eliminating 12 percent of its workforce, it was sad but hardly unexpected news.
But what the paper didn't tell its readers was the affected employees were escorted from the building after being told they were getting no severance pay.
No as in nada, zip, gornisht.
That includes guys like Ron Romanski, the assistant photo editor who put in 45 years at the Eagle.
"It shocks everybody I talk to," he told Editor & Publisher. "I'm thinking about suing them. I didn’t think it would happen to me."
Oh, to be fair (sort of), the Eagle did provide two weeks of benefits to give those kicked to the curb enough time to apply for COBRA.
But no severance pay? How do you do that if you're the type who can still look at themself in the mirror and sleep at night? That especially goes for a private, family-owned business.
For the Ron Romanskis of this world, family has taken on a whole new meaning.