Monday, August 28, 2006

ESPN Double Talk

While perusing the recent ESPN mag, I couldn't help but notice that they employed the use of the "plus additional headlines" trick, not once, but twice. What is that about? They have the lead headline, which is "College Football 2006: Who's No 1?" Obviously, the only way to sell magazines in this day and age is to spell out every article right there on the cover (can't expect people to flip through it, after all), so they chase that with a "Plus:" menu that lays out four more college football stories. So far, so good.

Things got a bit confusing when I glanced at the right side of the cover and saw. "+ LeBron, Serena & Snakes on a Plane." Ignoring the fact that this little teaser has thus far failed to get me to read the ensuing article (I've had the magazine for over a week), lets focus on the fact that this a blatant attempt to get away with using the "plus!" gimmick twice on the same cover. What do we make of this?

I went back and looked at the last few magazine and they all used the "Plus:" menu in the bottom left-hand corner of the page, but this is the first I've seen of using the actual + symbol. Should this bother me? For some reason, it does. You wouldn't make a point in a column, follow it with one more statement phrased as "plus ..." and then simply do it again. For example:

"Cedric Benson is a hated by his teammates, is constantly injured, and isn't even very good. Plus, he needs to learn how to carry the ball in his left hand. Plus, I hate him."

See? That doesn't work at all. So if we aren't going to let people just throw a bunch of transitional words like "plus" in a column, why would we let page layout editors do it? I'm telling you, this is an outrage.

The only other question is how it happened. Did ESPN overlook this? It is hard to imagine that a magazine with a subscriber list this large and with a sticker price of $4.99 could overlook something so basic. The other option is that they think the readers are so dumb they won't notice the multiple pluses. Or, possibly worse, they think that no one will care. Perhaps that all rules of grammar, layout, and journalistic style have gone the way of the Great Auk (I don't care for references to the Dodo bird - it is time to popularize the unfortunate demise of the Great Auk).

Anyway, it has been driving me crazy. Plus, I don't even like ESPN the Mag that much. Plus, their college football preview was terrible. + they focus too much on Notre Dame. + ....

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