Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A chicken in every pot, a Somerville Scout in every mailbox

Today, a stack of a new quarterly publication entitled the Somerville Scout showed up in the lobby of my building. With print media on the approximate evolutionary trajectory of the pterodactyl, it's an odd time to launch a magazine. The editorial conceit of this one is "scouting the best of where to go and what to do in Somerville," and the mission statement reads "Somerville Scout seeks to inspire its readers to enjoy all Somerville has to offer." Actually, it's an advertising vehicle for local businesses, which is a good thing if it gets people to support them, but I can't help feeling manipulated as a reader.

Somerville Scout's content is fairly stale, consisting mainly of news that other publications like the Somerville Journal and Somerville News have already covered, plus lists of upcoming events and performances at Somerville venues, and a few profiles of local business owners. The obvious flaws in the quarterly publication schedule are that by the time the next issue rolls around, the news content is going to three months staler and any changes to the event listings will be lost. The only thing that will still be "fresh" is the ad content, which brings me back to the manipulation factor.

Don't get me wrong; I thoroughly support local businesses and urge others to do so whenever possible. I also applaud the chutzpah it takes for anyone to undertake the launch of a new magazine the same week the New York Times is threatening to shut down publication of the Boston Globe. I sincerely hope the Somerville Scout achieves its misleadingly worded aim and does bring more folks through the doors of our local business establishments. I just wish there was a greater percentage of worthwhile content between the ads. I guess we'll just have to see what issue #2 brings.

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