Woman's Own gets a print 'blog'

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 19 March 2008

You'll do almost anything to keep yourself amused in an airport whilst waiting for a flight. On Monday in Heathrow's godforsaken Terminal 2, that included flicking through a copy of "Woman's Own". Well, a man has to get his fill of celebrity gossip, female health problems and lead interviewee Piers Morgan.

Woman's Own front cover

At the back of the mag was the "Woman's Own" 'interactive' section, called 'Chat Room - Your life, your opinions, your page'. I was more interested in this than anything else in the magazine, because of the way it tried to present essentially online interactions in print.

Woman's Own chat room page

It had a few features on it, including putting two opposing views about a recent magazine article from two different readers together. There was also a 'Hot topic' vote. Readers could express their opinion by text, email or snail-mail on the issue of supermarket plastic bags. The whole page was labelled as 'New', and so that probably explained why there didn't seemed to be any results from previous 'Hot topics' on the page.

Another section was "You've got to see this!". This featured a still image from a video on YouTube, in this case of Dancing On Ice character Jason Gardiner. Interestingly, instead of giving a full YouTube URL for the video, or employing something like TinyURL, "Woman's Own" publish instructions on how to search for a video.

"Check out www.youtube.com and tap in Jason Gardiner showreel 2006"
Woman's Own YouTube spot

If you were trying to sell anything to the "Woman's Own" target demographic, then you know exactly what search term to optimise your promotional YouTube video for!

The main feature on the page though was "This week's blog". The strapline was slightly more accurate:

"Ever wanted to be a columnist?"
Not the Woman's Own blog

There didn't seem to be anything remotely blog-like about the format, which was essentially an extended 'letter to the editor' about yourself. Readers were invited via email, text or again snail-mail to decide whether the columnist should get a chance to write for the magazine again. This is similar to The London Paper's 'More or Bore' vote.

More or Bore

One final point struck me about the layout of the "Woman's Own" page. At the foot, the magazine invited contributions via email, to the address letters_own@ipcmedia.com. However, because of the column width allocated to the email address, it was split across two lines.

Woman's Own email blooper

I'd wager that if they checked their email logs, they'd find they get plenty of mail mistakenly sent to just the bottom line - own@ipcmedia.com - an address which bounces instead of being set up to re-direct to the right mailbox.

Failed email ping


Initially, the world of online publishing attempted to simply migrate everything it had been in print to the interwebs, but the reverse process in which a traditional print magazine tries to make its pages "clickable" is just plain silly, as you demonstrate.


PS Have you ever felt your index finger twitch though when you see a "button" on a page, it's almost a reflex? Now, if only we had e-paper that really could respond...

Reminds me of Norway's biggest newspaper, VG, a tabloid, which has a column headlined 'VG blog' on page 3, next to the editorial column. I've yet to spot any interactive features to it, being in print as it is + no calls for suggestions or similar. Incidentally, this is the print version of Norway's most read news site and the parent company Schibsted, a company much hailed for its online strategy...

Hot topic
Ricky & Bianca must go otherwise I do not intend to watch Eastenders again. The acting is particularly BAD! More so on Bianca's part. The voice and acting of Bianca is unbearable.

I've been saying for years that National Service should be brought back. My sons chose an Army career on leaving school and it gave them a great start to adulthood. With the law not allowing you to discipline your teenagers I think 2 years in the Army is all the discipline they would need to learn respect for another persons life.

Martin, you now own 1/3 of the results if you google "letters_own@ipcmedia.com" (and how many people realise the difference between the to: field in their email client and the address bar in the browser)

Did this just happen to this entry?

Yes Dave, there are quite a few of these littered around the site now. I have a couple of guys leaving comments for Eurosport about drugs issues in the Tour De France here, and a seemingly endless supply of people who think that the best way to promote their blog via comments is to type 'promote blog comments' into Google, and then just leave a comment on this post.

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