Brands Like Goop & Dr. Oz Drag Media’s Reputation Through the Mud
Many publishers throughout the history of the profession have shown that profit can supersede a moral barometer. That, of course, doesn't condemn everybody. But there are too many examples of profit above truth to deny that the accusations sometimes carry merit. Women's magazines in particular have for a hundred years or more, fed on the needs and promoted unrealistic expectations on a very vulnerable public for a nice profit.
Take Dr. Oz for example. He has a very successful magazine. Yet as reported in Wikipedia:
He is a proponent of alternative medicine and has been criticized by physicians, government officials, and publications, including Popular Science and The New Yorker, for giving non-scientific advice. In a Senate hearing on weight loss scams, Senator Claire McCaskill chided Oz, saying, “The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you call miracles.” An investigation by the British Medical Journal found that 46% of his claims were misleading or incorrect.
Yet Dr. Oz has a very successful magazine.
I've been told that the good doctor's magazine The Good Life has editorial content that is free of any miracle medical cures. That is fine, but it is not free from the mascot protagonist about whom it has been stated, “46% of his claims were misleading or incorrect.” It's not free from a spokesperson that faced an angry congress “for giving non-scientific advice.”
I suppose it's possible to say that publishers are just giving the public what it wants. But I struggle with validating a TV personality who, as suggested by the British Medical Journal, has distributed malarkey for profit. It is worth repeating for the third time that this magazine is wildly successful -- so none of the observations above matters either to the public or the balance sheet.
Now that leads me to the announcement of the appropriately titled magazine Goop from Condé Nast in conjunction with Gwyneth Paltrow. I'm not sure if the powers that be looked up the definition of goop in the dictionary, so I Googled it and found it reads as follows: "Sloppy or sticky semifluid matter, typically something unpleasant." Yes, that sounds about right.
Perhaps this is one of those me-too titles that the publishing industry is so fond of, even though their star celebrity, as an article from Vox states, “has for years faced intense criticism from the medical and scientific communities for selling junk health products.”
Do I have any doubt that this new title will do well on the newsstands? No. History suggests that it will be a smashing success, perhaps just like the Dr. Oz magazine.
But that isn't the point. We as an industry must take the bad with the good. If we continue to create “fake or alternative news” or promote “selling junk health products,” then we have to accept the moniker we deserve. Media is much more about profit then any quaint perception of truth.
Bob Sacks (aka BoSacks) is a printing/publishing industry consultant and president of The Precision Media Group (BoSacks.com). He is also the co-founder of the research company Media-Ideas (Media-Ideas.net), and publisher and editor of a daily international e-newsletter, Heard on the Web. Sacks has held posts as director of manufacturing and distribution, senior sales manager (paper), chief of operations, pressman, circulator and almost every other job this industry has to offer.