WIRED magazine is growing in heft, at 124 pages. It has ads for high-end watches, cell phones and cars, and perfume, HBO, one cigarette ad, so it is a safe assumption they are doing well. Popular Science’s October 2014 issue is only 92 pages, counting the covers, but what is disturbing is the conflict between the purported useful content and the advertising. In the past PS had an eye for unusual scientific anomalies that sometimes I had missed, but this issue’s presentations were about marginal technical innovations. The article on 10 young innovators was short on the how, what and why they were succeeding at their innovations, and I would have appreciated links to more thorough information.
The weird things in Popular Science were the ads, as most of those pages were devoted to sybaritic pursuits. Pages 2,3 and 4 were ads for Viagra, 11 making sports safer, 14, 15, 16 clot drugs, 19 car ad, 23 electronic cigarettes, 26 fancy cars, 29 car insurance, 31 ceiling fans, 33 e-cigarettes, 35 e-cigarettes, 37 fancy pick-ups, 42 pinch tobacco, 45 a reasonable car, 46-67 articles, 68, 69 tool coupons, 70 understanding stuff classes, 73 spring shoes, 74 class action settlement opportunity, 81 genuine US gold coins, 82 water cures, 83-89 partial pages of similar stuff, 91 cigarettes, 92 phone ad.
It isn’t out of touch with reality claiming these products in Popular Science are of marginal value for living a better life when many of them have legally required warnings that these things are dangerous to your health. WIRED is filled with healthier stuff, but very expensive stuff, and much more profoundly important articles.
Is the quality of advertising a magazine is willing to use a measure of the quality of the material it is willing to publish?