Monthly Archives: June 2009

Vanity Fair not vain about Internet

As a media geek, I was fascinated when I stumbled across the Vanity Fair magazine Web site. The magazine is thriving in a struggling industry despite (or because of) a fairly uninviting Web presence.

This blog (through no fault of my own) has a more attractive design than a major magazine’s site. Vanity Fair is a major magazine with 1.1 million subscribers and prominent placement on newsstands.

It doesn’t seem to be hurt much by Internet competition, and doesn’t seem to have many readers who switched to the Web site. Maybe the answer is in keeping the print product glossy, compelling and well-designed and leaving the site as an anachronistic throwback to 1996 Web design. And the magazine might be able to pay writers marginally higher rates (and draw folks like Christopher Hitchens) by not paying Web designers.

It’s also worth noting that the magazine prints all its stories online, but in a dense, text-heavy format that ignores all the “rules.” To be fair, the stories get a significant number of comments

By the way, for some unrelated media analysis, check out this list of myths and truths about media stereotypes. It’s anecdotal but still interesting.

Go Vanity Fair. Whatever you’re doing is working.

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Is Boulder really better than Fort Collins?

OK, in honor of the upcoming Bike Week, I have to defend my new city against my old city. Fort Collins earned a bike-friendly gold rating last September from the League of American Bicyclists. On the same list, Boulder earned a platinum rating. Somebody defend this disparity.

Having lived in both cities, I think it’s at least as easy to get around Fort Collins on continual bike lanes and paths than in Boulder. Colorado State University is also easier to get around on two wheels (and has fewer dismount zones) than my alma mater, the University of Colorado. I do think there are more options for trail rides and fun mountain climbs outside Boulder, but the ranking is about cities, not regions.

Meanwhile, the same group lists Colorado as the 22nd most bike-friendly state in the nation. So Fort Fun and the People’s Republic of Boulder are doing their part. Lakewood and Greeley also earned LAB ratings. Step up, all you other cities and towns.

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Another Ticketmaster fail

In fairness, here’s something nice and something nasty about Ticketmaster:

Nice: Ticketmaster actually responded to my question about one of its service charges.

Nasty: Ticketmaster is still a monopoly and it sucks. This is not on the same scale as the Springsteen on-sales, but last night I was in a fit of rage worthy of Andy Bernard. I bought a pair of Wilco tickets (my lucky 13th show, but who’s counting) and Ticketmaster service charges jacked up the price by 50 percent. One charge was $2.50 for the privilege of printing my own tickets with my own printer, ink and paper at my house. Thus the email, asking the company to explain this particular ridiculous charge. The response, minus the token appreciation boilerplate: “Ticketmaster has implemented a delivery fee on all orders delivered via Ticketmaster’s TicketFast® delivery option. The TicketFast® delivery fee helps Ticketmaster pay for its investment in the technology that makes this service possible, including product and software development, as well as thousands of barcode scanners installed at the venues multiple access points.”

So the “convenience” charges don’t actually cover Ticketmaster software. Maybe that’s why the software is crap, continually kicks buyers out of the system and is a far worse system than Amazon or the dozens of other Internet merchants with no convenience charges.

Also, the little scanners also scan Ticketmaster’s mailed tickets, so the development costs should not fall on the print-at-home tickets.

Boycott Ticketmaster. Go to independent, local theater and music. Buy tickets at the box office when possible. Encourage bands to use TicketWeb or other ticketing services. Contact the Department of Justice. The office is investigating the merger with Live Nation (a British regulator just started a similar probe). Ticketmaster is already a monopoly, and the combined force will likely destroy the remaining tatters of the music industry.

UPDATE: Thanks to Kristin for reminding me about the buyout of TicketWeb.

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My new favorite Web site

Working from home with no boss leaves lots of time for coffee breaks — or Internet joke breaks. My new favorite site is failblog.org. I laugh out loud nearly every time I visit, and it’s updated several times a day. It’s all video and still images of “fails.”

Anyhow, this is my favorite recent video.

I think Gordon Brown actually does the “psyche!” thing that was funny when I was in middle school. Way to go, Gordo.

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Maybe Bill O’Reilly is a sarcastic liberal, too

Fans of Bill O’Reilly can’t seem to figure out that he is foremost an entertainer, not a reporter or even a thoughtful commentator. But maybe he’s taking us all for a ride. Apparently some conservatives can’t denote entertainment or irony. Maybe he’s trying to be ironic and funny but does it really badly.

A recent poll found a majority of conservatives believe Stephen Colbert is on their side. The former Daily Show correspondent and writer flew the coop four years ago to start “The Colbert Report,” which is essentially 30 minutes each day of mocking Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly gets the joke, but maybe his fans don’t.

I love this story, but I mostly wrote this for an excuse to watch a clip from “The Factor” with Stephen Colbert as a guest, in character.

On the other hand, I guess I can’t figure out irony on the right. I can’t tell if O’Reilly is trying and failing to be funny or if he thinks he’s an f—ing investigative reporter with his loud interrogation about the pronunciation of Colbert.

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