Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Misadventures in Adcopy #5 - Special "News" Edition

Metro is a free, daily newspaper distributed along the public transit lines of several major metropolis. Since last year they've been engaged in a blitz marketing campaign for a company called Acushakti, which has taken all of the health benefits of a bed of nails, and mass produced it in plastic. They've had weekly ads, including several full pages, and one day when Metro had the front and back cover printed to look like an Acushakti mat. Honestly, I thought that was a nifty marketing ploy.

But what's not nifty, in fact is unacceptable, are the articles that Metro has published about Acushakti. I’ve seen three in the mywellbeing section since December, and while I know Metro isn’t the gold standard in journalistic excellence and integrity (I can’t seem to find Metro’s Journalistic Code of Ethics), the About section of their website states, “colorful features are presented without any bias.” I’m disappointed that Metro can’t recognize the inherent bias of using articles to promote one of their advertisers.

The New York Times, which does have an accessible ethical code, calls these “advertorials.” And what’s the news being reported in today's article entitled Study: Nail mats 'do tackle muscle pain'? According to one of the doctors cited in the article, Dr. Anette Kjellgren, “additional pain (from the mat) filters out the competing pain.”

Yeah, I know, like how whenever I have a toothache I’ve found that being punched, hard, in the nose, makes me barely care about the toothache. Leaving aside the conflict of interest, or the somewhat simplistic results of the study, since when is an unpublished “scientific” study newsworthy?

When the value of spike mats for pain reduction is confirmed in a study published in a peer reviewed journal, that might be news, at least for another newspaper that hasn’t sold been running full page and larger Acushakti ads for months.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I can't believe my eyes...

Today the fine gentlemen who post daily for Phreelance Writers and I went down to Hawkins Street in Boston to fill out paperwork for our job as Writing Consultants (read:Contractors) for Northeastern University's Foundation Year program. See if you can find the direction on the M-4 form (pdf) that seemed just a little off-kilter to me:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review #6

Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I was a little boy I often asked my parents to tell me bedtime stories. My favorite was a series by mother called, "Sam and Jackson Monkey." Sam and Jackson Monkey were monkey-brothers who loved peanut butter and bananas on toast, just like me.

I haven't told many people about my mother's stories for a couple of reasons, but the most important is that I felt ownership over those stories. They were created just for me, and they represent something so good that I've wanted to keep them sacred and protect them. Simply, they were too perfect to share.

I feel that this is the only possible reason someone has not recommend this book to me until just a few weeks ago, five years after its publication. I think every reader must be a little scared that something so good exists and they must also feel that same fear to share, the feeling that this novel had been written just for them.

Simply put Jonathan Safran Foer has crafted an utter masterpiece, filled with love, anguish, beautiful stories, characters, and interesting experiments. It is the best art I have seen come out of the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001. It is nearly modern fantasy, and yet it rings miraculously true. It is an affirmation of the power of life, imagination, family, and writing in the most difficult of times. It is easily the greatest novel I have read published in the last ten years.

Part of me wants to clutch it to myself and not admit to anyone that I know it's out there. Of course it's a bestseller and many people have read it, but it's so deeply intimate that I feel as though it were written just for me.

But it's just too good. If you follow my reviews on Goodreads you know that they're infrequent. I read on average a few books a month, but I rarely feel compelled to review them unless they are very good or disappointing. This book is not very good, it is the best, and if you take one of my recommendations, this should be it.

It may not immediately become one of your favorite books, but I'm certain you'll have a thoughtful read with moments and ideas that will resonate for a long while.

View all my reviews