Media Coverage of Politics Leaves Me Asking, “What’s the point?”

This year’s presidential election has caused quite a stir. Tonight’s vice-presidential debate has kept the candidates in the news all week. There is, quite obviously, a lot of media coverage and I try to keep up. Every so often a story comes up in my RSS reader that makes me scratch my head and question the point. Today was no exception.

This morning Politico ran a story called, “Women ex-governors divided on Palin.” I couldn’t help myself. I had to see if they actually wasted their time studying female former governors. They did. They tried to speak to the current female governors as well, however, it seems they were either not willing or not available.

Politico came to this conclusion:

…among her class of trailblazing female governors, Palin is not universally embraced for her accomplishments.

Not universally embraced? I for one am shocked (not really) that a political candidate is not universally embraced. Craziness!

For the fun of it, I decided to take a closer look. A quick trip to Wikipedia produced a list of female state governors in the United States. There were 29 in total, past and present. Of those based on another minute’s worth of research, I found 8 to be deceased, leaving 21 potential interviewees. Politico stated that current female governors didn’t weigh in, so I removed another 8 who are presently serving.

That leaves us with 13 former, living, female governors with which Politico may (or may not) have spoken. Of those women, 7 are Republicans and 6 are Democrats. By my statistics, which admittedly may be a bit under-researched, Politico spoke with a nearly 50/50 political party split and reported that Palin was not universally embraced.

Were they expecting the female Democratic former governors to support Palin simply because she was a fellow female governor? This isn’t a trip to the ladies room. Women don’t necessarily join in just because another woman is going. This is politics. I would have to imagine that getting a former governor to vote across party lines is going to take more than a gender commonality.

I haven’t conducted my own research, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I suspect Biden is not universally accepted by former male governors either. Maybe the media could poll them to confirm.

Oh well. If you’re interested, the vice-presidential debates air tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time on all the major networks: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and, PBS. (As if you didn’t know that already.)

RFID to Test Magazine Readership in Waiting Rooms

I have been watching RFID, or radio frequency identification, for a while to see how it will be applied in our world. EZPass is one example of RFID usage for those that travel toll roads in the Northeast United States. It is also being used by WalMart and some of its suppliers to track pallets of products from the manufacturer to the distributor, to the storage room and, subsequently, the storeroom floor. I recently read about a new application of the technology: Folio Magazine reported that waiting room readership will be measured using RFID.

Mediamark Research and Intelligence (MRI) announced that it is going to measure magazine readership using RFID technology. By placing a tag in the cover of each magazine and sensors throughout, with a nearby reader, MRI says it will be able to determine which magazines are opened, for how long, and where in the magazine it was opened and closed. This test is being done in conjunction with DJG Marketing’s Waiting Room Subscription Services and is slated to run in 10 to 20 waiting rooms during the first quarter of 2008 (no, I don’t know which waiting rooms or where).

This seems like overkill to me. Though prices have fallen, RFID technology is still not cheap to implement. After investing, how useful will the results be? The system will measure when magazines are picked up and put back down, but likely won’t know why the magazine was put down. Did the person find it uninteresting, or did their waiting time merely come to a quick end? I understand the importance magazines place on their readership scores, but will this test truly provide the intended results? Guess we’ll wait and see.

Don’t worry just yet (unless you happen to find yourself in one of those “bugged” waiting rooms). You won’t see this application of the technology appearing on your subscriptions anytime soon.

Dove Ads Get Real

Dove has captured my attention lately with it’s Campaign For Real Beauty. Their ads have appeared on TV, in magazines, and online depicting natural beauty in all ages, shapes, and sizes.

I’ve never considered models as “real.” Perhaps that’s why I never bothered to aspire to such images. Or maybe I was lucky enough to have people around me who taught me exactly what this video from Dove encourages.

Why is it that pictures of “real” people in a magazine actually grab my attention more than pictures of models? I have one theory: maybe ordinary people show more emotion in photographs since they haven’t trained for the industry. That’s just one thought. Anyone else have ideas?

Radio Ad for Lasik Leaves Me Unsettled

I heard a commercial on the radio yesterday for Lasik eye surgery with a special deal running. If you and a friend schedule your procedures on the same day, one of them is free.

Buy one get one free Lasik eye surgery.

Somehow this seems wrong to me. This is eye surgery. Things cutting and splicing your eyeball. A procedure that makes me really thankful for good vision. This is not a clearance product like leftover summer T-shirts. If I need a medical procedure done to my eye, I don’t want priced-to-move surgery, I want real surgery.

Are we actually this nonchalant about the health of our eyes? In a place where multi-hundred dollar purses are becoming the norm, Lasik is striking a deal to entice new customers. How eye-opening.

News from the Web- week ending September 1, 2007

There were a lot of interesting news stories last week to finish off the summer. Here are a few of the headlines that caught my eye.

Crushed Glass to Be Spread on Beaches
August 26, 2007- Broward County, Florida is testing the use of crushed recycled glass to replenish its eroding beaches.

Companies limit e-mail use to boost productivity
August 27, 2007- A company in Iowa is a year in to their Friday ban on email. Some employees say it’s a more productive day for them.

Newspapers Losing Advertisers to the Web
September 1, 2007- Print advertising is declining in favor of online advertising, but is online advertising making up the difference?

Digital Magazine Appeals to Senses

digipeoplecover150w.jpg

Smart magazine publishers realize that they can no longer be solely focused on print issues, they must explore multiple media formats to reach their audience. Obviously People magazine understands this. They have put together a digital magazine filled with fantastic displays of technology (or for you non-technical folks… lots of fun stuff to see, hear, and click). See that dolphin in the background of the cover shot? Go to People Digital Magazine and that dolphin is actually jumping out of the water and diving back in.

In this issue, you can see video of the latest roller coaster to be built at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA. You can watch the Harry Potter cast age through photos and test your knowledge of the stories: choose your answer and a clip from one of the movies will play to show you the right answer. A sizzling barbecue spread gives recipes and playlists for your summer feast. Concert previews, a live penguin camera, dunking American Idol contestants… what more can you ask for?

Movement, sound, and interactivity make this magazine exciting. While People magazine is not among my normal reads, I was hooked on playing with this digital issue. There are some great ideas to take from this.

Magazine’s Special Issue to Hit Web, Not Newsstand

The Week, a weekly news magazine, is issuing a special edition about the environment. Rather than printing the special issue and distributing it via mail and newsstands, it will be posting the issue on its website for one week beginning April 20.

Because trees will not be as endangered by the online posting, this method fits nicely with their environmental theme. Furthermore, The Week hopes that this will help expand their online presence in a world that is shifting to mixed media.

The idea has also proven enticing to advertisers. Lexus will be the sole sponsor for the special issue, for which they will also receive a series of print ads after the special edition.

The Week says, “ we’re trying to be as agnostic as possible about serving our readers in all the different media.” Consumers are becoming more finicky about how they want content and magazines like The Week that want to accommodate are presenting in multiple formats.

Despite the plethora of media formats available today, I’m still skeptical that print will ever go away completely. There are still a number of places where it makes sense to leverage print, at least for now.

Related Articles:
Online Experiment for Print Magazine

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