ON HAND: More ads than stories

This originally appeared in The Tactile Mind Weekly in Trudy’s ON HAND column.

I get this e-zine each week. I don’t know why I subscribe to it. Maybe it’s because I keep hoping that there will be something of interest somewhere in there.

The e-zine bills itself as an “independent-voice, subscriber-based e-newsletter nationwide.” Yet is it really independent? Most of the news bits have personal comments. The editor ties non-deaf issues into the deaf community–some such a stretch that they make me chuckle. The issues are also filled with poorly written sentences and inaccurate information. And the ads!

With all the free time I have, I counted the stories and ads in this week’s two-part issue to see just how many there were. When I saw the final numbers, I was floored.

FIRST PART

Actual news bits: 4
News bits with personal comments: 9
Regular features (captioning bloopers, look back at history, etc.): 5

Advertisements
Ads about the e-zine: 4
General ads: 18
Employment Ads: 10

SECOND PART

Actual news bit: 3
News bits with personal comments: 10
Regular features: 4

Advertisements
Ads about the e-zine: 4
General ads: 19
Employment ads: 11

Overall, that’s about seven news bits, 19 news bits with personal comments, nine “features” and a total of–wait, let me get my calculator–66 ads in every issue.

Of course, ads are the backbone of any publication. But let’s do the math: if the editor charges maybe $20 per ad, that’s at least $1000 a week. Factor in costs for website hosting for a webpage that has no archives and an unappealing design; time for putting together the e-zine and e-mail correspondence–that sure adds up to a cushy salary.

So, with that salary, wouldn’t you think facts would be at least verified? Me, too. But in the past few years, the e-zine has reported quite a few inaccurate tidbits. The most recent blunder was the announcement of a well-known deaf leader’s wife’s death. Usually, the e-zine’s sources are “anonymous” or never credited.

That’s not all. A few years ago, the e-zine reported that a building at Gallaudet would be named after CSD honcho Ben Soukup–when in reality it was a room, not a whole building. The e-zine also incorrectly reported in the last month that Jerry Springer had a deaf son (his child has Down Syndrome); that Saturn star Holly Daniel was an actress; and the list goes on.

Don’t we deserve news bits that are verified, relevant, and unbiased? I don’t care if the e-zine is free; it still has the responsibility of accurate reporting. The e-zine is such a valuable resource for the Deaf community–especially the job listings. The editor claims that its circulation is over 13,000. It frightens me to think of how many readers are being misled by the contents of each issue.

Maybe I should just unsubscribe.

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