Syria

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Disclaimer: I voted for Obama for president—twice. Peggy and I each sent his campaign some money. That said, I now despise Democrats. I received three virtually identical emails in the space of six hours. See the photo. Quite simply, this is (1) appalling and (2) insulting. The current news is horrendous—decapitations, weather, ISIS, Syria, Iraq, health care, Ebola, jobs … Many reasons exist to contact me and scare the hell out of me.

I was horrified by ISIS and the beheading of journalist James Foley. And further appalled at the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff. This was the headline of The New York Times online lead story: "Obama Enlists 9 Allies to Help in the Battle Against ISIS"

The shiny taxpayer-funded fliers or the officially stamped letters that once populated mailboxes around the country are dying a surprisingly quick death. The cause: The Internet, mainly—Facebook ads and emails make for quicker and more targeted contact, sped along by the sequester, which forced even members of Congress to tighten their belts. Members of the House spent 68 percent less on mailers—known in congressional speak as franking since they come with taxpayer funded postage—during the first half of this year

On Tuesday, March 31, my daily Web prowl came across the mention of a major story about The New York Times Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. in the upcoming May issue of Vanity Fair.

I hied over to VanityFair.com and found the story, which I downloaded into my archive. The tedious, 11,415-word piece could be compressed into a four-word sentence: “Pinch is a weenie.”

But Pinch is not the story here. While I was at it, I downloaded articles about Rush Limbaugh; hottie cover girl Gisele Bündchen; Christopher Hitchens’ piece on Lebanon; a long story about the rich, conservative and powerful who attend summer blowouts in Northern California’s Bohemian Grove; and James Walcott’s “What’s Wrong with Washington.” I also swiped some terrific illustrations. Whereupon, I went away to ponder my loot—33,339 words plus pictures, the entire worthwhile contents of the issue.

All this was free from Vanity Fair. I paid nothing—nada, zip, niente. Were any advertisers on the scene hoping for a clickthrough? I didn’t notice.

What’s more, this material was in my computer and in my head a good week and a half before the May issue of VF hit the newsstands and two weeks before subscribers received it in their mailboxes. Meanwhile, VF’s insecure publisher and editors are so desperate for affirmation and buzz that they're happy to screw paying customers, causing them to be one-upped at cocktail parties by computer geeks like me.

Which takes us back to the lede from IN THE NEWS elsewhere on this page:

Multiple sources tell us that 20 or more employees were laid off at Condé Nast Digital today.

What’s wrong with this picture?

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