Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Readers ask is it "Numismatic News?" Or "What I Ate On My Vacation?"

For years, I've subscribed to Numismatic News and read articles of vacation travelogs that told more about what restaurants the author had eaten at than it did about coins. As I am writing this, I have the current issue of Numismatic News (March 3 ,2009) in front of me. In the letters to the editor section, there are two letters titled "Too many articles don't focus on numismatics" and "Spare us from David Ganz's travel stories." A few pages later in that same issue is a feature story titled "January travels a lot of numismatic FUN" by a different author.

Ironically, (or should I say comically?) the article is three full pages long - 39 paragraphs and approximately 4000 words. Reading the article you will discover that not one paragraph is really about coins. The few references I saw about coins were in describing the people or places the author went and not the actual coins (e.g. references to early coppers specialist Tom Reynolds or the Chicago Coin Club). Of the 39 paragraphs, 23 paragraphs reference breakfast, lunch, dinner, or "quick feed" with some paragraphs mentioning multiple meals in the same paragraph.

So where did he eat?

There are references to the B-Line Diner (6 times), Chili's (2), Antler's Grille (2), Culver's (2), Dynasty Restaurant, Ceres Cafe, Schreiner's Restaurant, Judge Baldwin's Grill and Bar, The Melting Pot Fondue Restaurant, Luigi's Italian Restaurant, La Baguette, Giuseppe's Old Depot Restaurant, Josh & John's Ice Cream Parlor, Hampton Inn's continental breakfast, and a couple of places left unnamed.

What did he eat?

He mentions having "salads and sandwiches," chicken pot pie, coffee cake, a small banana, cranberry juice, "ribs and kraut dish," "bunch of grapes," Rocky Mountain trout, Rocky Road ice cream, raspberry sorbet, black bean soup, and one "Almond Joy candy bar."

We are also treated to traveling in a car (a Town Car), roads taken, miles driven, time driving, and weather reports. I don't want to forget the times he woke up, went for his "constitutional" (morning walks), airports, airlines, flight schedules, gate numbers, flight delays, lost luggage, and one shoe shine.

Since writers get paid by the number of words submitted, I can see how it pays for an author to pad their articles whether intentional or not. It's the job of the editor to remove the padding and make sure the article appeals to their audience before publication. But, this article only had the padding in it. The numismatic content was completely missing. After reading the current issue, I have to wonder whether or not the folks at Numismatic News actually read the letters to the editor. . . . or more importantly, read the articles they actually publish.

Finally, let me just say that I have the greatest respect and admiration for the numismatic achievements of the authors of these travelogs. My hope is that if Numismatic News won't listen to their readers and focus their articles to be more numismatic, maybe the writers themselves will start to write more about numismatics than breakfast and shoe shines.


At 9:08 AM, Blogger Scott said...

If you don't like the article, don't read it. Some of us find the articles entertaining!

At 4:20 PM, Blogger A.C. Dwyer said...

Well, normally I would agree with you here and I would tell the writers of those letters to the editor to just skip over the article. But this time I have to side with the writers.

The travelogs have been a recurring theme with numerous articles of this type written by at least three different authors. And the letters to the editor over the last few issues show that some readers are starting to object. The publication is called Numismatic News after all and they paid good money for it. So I don't find it unreasonable for those readers to expect to find current articles about numismatics as the feature articles. Or at least have the travelog detail play a secondary role to some numismatic subject.

Now you could point out that there was one other feature article in the current paper about gold type collecting along with an "Item of the Week" column about the 1911-D Indian Head quarter eagle, both written by Paul Green. Almost every issue has two excellent numismatic articles written by Mr. Green. But what the paper doesn't tell you is that Paul Green has been dead almost three years now. So either he's writing from the Great Beyond or they are recycling his articles that have been published before. Unfortunately, they don't let us know which it is.

So this time, I'm going to disagree with you and side with the writers of the letters.

At 11:21 PM, Anonymous John said...

I agree with Scott the articles are interesting. I also agree with AC that they shouldn't be in NN.

At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Jamie Singer said...

Hi AC,

Firstly nice blog! This is my first comment - I've been floating around here for a while but Im actually going to say something now!

Its always nice to have a bit of light heated entertainment - whether Im at work or reading NN... to be honest it doesnt really bother me.

Theres always other places to find good content tho - like this blog! haha


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