Cross Platform Project: Perfection is Overrated

Since 1902, the Meredith Corporation has been a powerhouse of publications and media. As it stands, the Des Moines based company is worth 1.47 billion dollars and have holdings in magazines, newspapers, televisions, educational services, and websites. In this post, we are going to evaluate three of their publications and critique them. While they may not all be exactly be the same in content and medium, that is no excuse for any sloppiness that may or may not show its face.

Better Homes and Gardens

Here we have a magazine who has a comfortable niche that has spanned out to various outlets. Better Homes and Gardens is the fourth best selling magazine in the United States and focuses on cooking, gardening, crafts, healthy living, decorating, and entertaining. Since 1922, it has published a monthly magazine and is considered to be one of the “Seven Sisters” of women’s publications.

The content of this magazine is surprisingly in depth without a lot of shallowness in terms of writing style as well as choice of content. For example, December’s issue of the magazine is not holly and stockings. Yes, there is a great deal of pages devoted towards the Yule time holiday, but it is balanced out by the various other stories that are interesting in their own right.

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One piece that stands out in particular is the charming list of the best fairy gardens. A Fairy Garden is a miniature garden complete with structures and actual living plants, as if it were to be the home of literal fairies. The article is written in an artsy, almost fluffy way. Normally this is detrimental to a publication, but for something of this genre, it works together nicely and it matches the whimsicality of the topic. In fact, that type whimsy seems to be a key trait of this magazine. Whether it be about decorating tips or the heartiest soup, each writing makes what many would see as mundane or a chore, and then make it into a task that anyone would like to be apart of. Mix that with photos that could be best described as retinal candy, and you have a concoction that is a fantastic read.

However the quality of the pictures can be too good at times. What I mean by that is that when the photographer drops the ball, they really drop the ball. For example, the fairy garden story, with dynamic and diverse photos, but then you get to the recipe section and there is almost nothing but birds-eye view shots of food. Comparing the two, the recipes are very underwhelming.

Lastly, I notice that a good chunk of the content is based on submissions from readers. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if viewership dropped for whatever reason. Exactly how much smaller would the magazine get? I see this as a very dangerous way of running a magazine.

Everyday with Rachel Way (Website)

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Rachel Way is a well known television personality, business woman, and celebrity chef. In 2006, she launched her own magazine Everyday with Rachel Ray, which was acquired by the Meredith Corporation in 2008.

The magazine highlights Rachel Ray’s signature culinary style of quick and easy cooking, while other miscellaneous party ideas such as decorating and planning. It is a very visual sight, with a plethora of picture ready to entice the viewer to click on it, while simultaneously having an easy to follow layout. However, it is not simply text recipes that are shown, but also short videos that show not only the preparation and cooking process, but also how easy it is to create the meals.

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The site itself is very easy to maneuver through, with big texts and many links to click on. Best of all, the amount of ads here are very minimal, even for a computer without adblocker.

However, that does not mean that this website is perfect. As much as I praise the amount of visuals found within it, there is one glaring error that I can’t ignore.

The pictures are boring.

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Every single photograph of the food is in the same vain of Better Homes and Gardens. By that I mean there are a lot of birds eye shots, with a only slight angle changes to differentiate them. It all comes off a little bit lazy, almost stock photo-like. I really wish they would change it up a bit, maybe add a little some creative place settings or seasonal backgrounds to add some life to it. What I would really like to see though is for someone to eat one eat the food. In my opinion, I find that the best way to judge the food is to see to reaction of tasteful bliss on the consumers face.

There aren’t as many editorial issues here as there was in the first one. Overall, this is a stronger publication.

FOX 5 Vegas (KVVU) (Las Vegas, NV)

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Here we have a local news station in Las Vegas, one who seems to be doing a good job, but lack some essential fine-tuning.

KVVU is a news station that covers mostly local stories, with an occasional break into something on a larger scale if the story is high profile enough. It is a mixed variety that comes together it what should be a well-done broadcast. However, I can’t help but notice the problems that are literally right in front of my face.

For one thing, it is a very low maintenance atmosphere, with casual-wear being allowed to be worn by anchors and very  down to earth dialogue being utilized by those on camera.

Also, there is an unsettling amount of wallpaper footage in the broadcast. There was one story where they were talking about the variety of women being honored at an awards ceremony. However, if they are so diverse then why is there a 10 second shot of one group? Continuing on the same footage is often use repeatedly in the exact same story.

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Worst of all though, I find this broadcast to be in bad practice. I know this takes place in Vegas, but to have shirtless men on the broadcast seems entirely inappropriate. It is a local station with local station viewed by local families. I doubt they would be inclined to watch after that showed up. Oh, and this lovely little zoom out exposes the green screen. Very bad.

On the positive side of things, the graphics are nicely done and fit the overall color scheme of the broadcast. However, there are instances where it appears that the tech director forgot to punch up the lower thirds.

The newscast functions, it tells its stories, but the whole presentation is sloppy and sometimes lowbrow. Out of all three reviewed, I find this to be the weakest.

Conclusion

From this project, I determine that the Meredith Corporation caters mostly towards women with their own families. Meredith knows this and shape their content around this very well. There may be some sloppy bits,but it works.

If there is anything that I have learned from this study, it is that it is impossible to create the perfect broadcast/publication. Because no matter how much I complained or criticized certain pictures for being too stock or standard, I know my preference won’t match someone else’s. If they were to correct what I deem to be a mistaker or an error, I’m certain someone else would complain about the change. Audience’s are fickle.

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